Laura Davies, stumbling for the first time on the par-5s, went 18 holes without a birdie in a 3-over-par 75 Saturday but still managed to hold a two-shot lead in the third round of the LPGA Tour Championship.
The magical hold Davies had on the par-5s at the Desert Inn Country Club evaporated in a round that brought a handful of players back into the tournament she had led by four strokes at the midway point.
One of those players was Meg Mallon, who shot a bogey-free 67 to move from 10 shots back into second place. Another stroke back were Juli Inkster, Pat Hurst and Tina Barrett going into today's final round (4 p.m., Ch. 7).
Davies, who has struggled with her putting all year, had 38 putts on a day where two errant tee shots also cost her at least two strokes.
"If I putt like that tomorrow I've got no chance," a disconsolate Davies said. "But that's what I expected to be honest. And it's probably why I got it."
Davies started the round with a four-stroke lead, but promptly hit a palm tree with her iron shot off the first tee and then missed an 8-footer that seemed to set the tone for the day.
Davies had seven makable birdie putts on the back nine, but made none.
"Laura isn't exuding a lot of confidence," Mallon said after making up eight shots on another mild, windless day on the course bordering the Las Vegas Strip. "I've been in that position before."
Annika Sorenstam, trying to become the first golfer on the LPGA tour to average less than 70 strokes a round, shot a 71 and was at even par. Sorenstam, who entered the tournament with a 69.88 average, needs to shoot 72 or better today to break 70 for the year. She has already wrapped up the player of the year.
Argentina takes leads
WHANGAPARAOA, New Zealand -- Angel Cabrera and Richard Gonzalez took Argentina into the lead after three rounds of the wind-swept World Cup of Golf.
Gusting winds were even more of a factor than in the first two rounds. Only five of the 64 players broke par 72.
Argentina started the day at 1-under, five behind second-round leader England. Cabrera shot a 71 and Gonzalez had a 72.
England's Nick Faldo and David Carter were a shot behind the leaders, with individual leader Costantino Rocca helping Italy tie Ireland for third at even par going into today's final round (4:30 p.m., Ch. 29).
"It was a long, hard day out there," said Faldo, who shot a 73. "It's opened up for about six or more teams who can win it, but a brutal day. You're just hitting a lot shots you're not in control of."
John Daly continued to struggle in the powerful winds as the U.S. team slipped from 1-over-par to 8-over. Daly and Scott Verplank led at 10-under after 10 holes of the second round before losing 11 shots in the final eight holes to finish Friday's round.
Rose makes first cut
SOTOGRANDE, Spain -- Justin Rose, the English teen-ager who finished fourth in the British Open, took his first step to winning his PGA European Tour card.
The 18-year-old shot a 1-under 71 to make the four-round cut and advance to the final field of 75 at the qualifying school. The top 35 players after two rounds today and Monday will receive their tour cards.
Rose tied for 58th place, at 4-over 292, 13 shots behind leader Ross Drummond of Scotland. Rose opened with a disastrous 6-under 78 on Wednesday but then shot 73 and 70 before Saturday's round.
American Mac O'Grady, twice a winner on the U.S. tour, is trying at 47 to win his European PGA card. He shot a 5-under 67 to make the cut at 291.