HAVRE DE GRACE, Md. (AP) – Never shy about making wagers, Laura Davies would have taken any odds that her slim lead early Friday afternoon at the LPGA Championship would not hold up with Annika Sorenstam still on the course.

“That’s not a joke, that’s a fact,” Davies said. “She hasn’t had a bogey yet this week. She’s already at 6 (under par). She’s getting on my nerves.”

Except for her first bogey of the tournament, Sorenstam proved her correct.

Sorenstam seized control of the second leg of the Grand Slam with a blazing finish, three times stuffing her approach shots inside 2 feet for tap-in birdies that gave her a 5-under 67 and a two-shot lead over Davies.

“It’s a great rush,” Sorenstam said. “You picture something, it feels solid, you look up and it’s tap-ins.”

Trying to become the first woman in 65 years to win the same major three straight seasons, Sorenstam could not have asked for a better start. She also was the 36-hole leader the last two years in the McDonald’s LPGA Championship.

Even more frightening for the rest of the players is that Sorenstam isn’t even taking advantage of the par 5s, playing them at 1 over in the second round and even par for the week.

“I’m a little disappointed about that,” she said. “It’s something I’ve got to figure out.”

Everything else was no mystery. By the end of another muggy afternoon at Bulle Rock, it was crystal clear who was in control of this major.

Sorenstam, who has won five of her seven tournaments this year, was at 9-under 135 and will play with Davies in the final group today.

Davies nearly drove the 330-yard 16th hole and chipped it from about 30 feet for eagle, and despite three-putting for bogey three times and missing a 5-foot birdie putt at the end, the 41-year-old from England shot a 70 and was leading among the early starters.

Sorenstam caught her by the turn, then really poured it on.

First came a sand wedge to the 14th that pitched just in front of the cup, giving her a share of the lead. Then came a sand wedge that checked up next to the hole on the 16th. She followed that with a 7-iron on the 171-yard 17th that never left the flag. Sorenstam watched the flight of the ball with no emotion, and when it landed just right of the cup and trickled forward to about 2 feet, she looked down to smooth over her divot and politely waved to the gallery.

Ho-hum.

Davies might have predicted the outcome Friday, but she wasn’t willing to concede the tournament just yet.

“At least I can still see her,” said Davies, who needs a victory this week to get into the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Natalie Gulbis stayed with Sorenstam as long as she could, hitting shots that would have received a lot more applause had she been playing with anyone else. Gulbis missed three birdie chances inside 6 feet over the final five holes, but at least saved par with a 20-footer on the 18th for a 71.

She was at 6-under 138, and is not ruling out her chances for her first LPGA Tour victory.

“I’m definitely in a good spot,” Gulbis said, noting that the biggest difference between her and Sorenstam in the second round was “she made her birdies and I didn’t make them.”

Marisa Baena (69), Tina Fischer (71), Laura Diaz and Moira Dunn (68) were at 5-under 139, followed by a 15-year-old girl who again fit right in with the women.

Michelle Wie didn’t get much out of her round, missing only two greens but plenty of birdie opportunities. She had to settle for a 1-under 71 and was five shots behind.

“It looked good from the fairway,” Wie said. “When I got to the green, it was really hard.”

Eighteen-year-old Paula Creamer struggled off the tee and shot a 73, leaving her another shot behind at 141.

Davies was among the Europeans who first dominated the LPGA Tour, although nothing like Sorenstam has. She was the ultimate power player and has been held back only by her putting lately, keeping her without a victory on the LPGA Tour over the last four years.

But this is no time to panic, not at age 41, not even with Sorenstam two shots in front.

“You can’t win it tomorrow, but you can certainly put yourself out of it,” Davies said.

“It’s another day to try for 2, 3 under for the day and ending with a chance.”

It could lead to quite a duel, with Sorenstam trying to capture the second leg in her quest for a Grand Slam, and Davies hopeful of getting into the Hall of Fame.

“There’s a lot at stake for a lot of players,” Sorenstam said. “You feel the pressure, and you’ve got to be able to handle that. That’s what I think is cool to see. Can you hit the shots when you need to? That’s what this is all about.”


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