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Davies Opens Strong in Orlando

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Davies, LauraLaura Davies shot a fine opening round of 6-under-par 66 at Orlando's Grand Cypress Resort to take a one-shot lead over Penny Hammel in the inaugural YourLife Vitamins LPGA Classic.
 
For the day, Davies, who is playing competitively this week with a driver in her bag for the first time in months, went around in seven birdies against just a single bogey, which came late in her round at the par-4 16th.
 
At 6-under, she leads by one stroke over Hammel and two over A.J. Eathorne, Leigh Ann Mills and Grace Park. Carin Koch heads up a group of three other players at 3-under, while world No. 1 Karrie Webb finished with a 1-under 71.
 
For Davies, it was rather ironic that she had the big stick in her bag this week, as she continuously teed off with a one-iron all day through the breezy conditions of Grand Cypress. While she has said that she will use the driver more in this upcoming season, it seems the use of the long irons may have been a good move on this Friday. And no one seemed more surprised of her excellent play than Davies herself.
 
'This was my first round of the year, and it was a shock,' she said. 'Maybe if I'd been playing all winter, I would have expected it instead of being surprised.'

Other than for a double-bogey at the par-4 10th, Australian star Webb had an otherwise non-surprising first day of golf. She played well, recording three birdies in her effort of 71, and would appear to be right where she wants to be.
 
'It's hard to ease back into it when you have conditions like we had this afternoon,'' Webb said. 'It was immediately challenging. But I'm happy with 1-under, especially considering they way I played. There were a few loose shots.'
 
By all indications, Webb also seems to be in good shape with her new caddie Mike Patterson. After loosing her old bagger of four years in Evan Minster, Webb selected Patterson, a former caddie for the likes of Janice Moodie and Akiko Fukishima.
 
Patterson will no doubt have rather large shoes to fill. The duo of Webb/Minster climbed rather quickly to the top of the women's game, and were said to have had a great on-course chemistry.
 
But Webb already seems to be relaxed in talking of her new caddie.
 
'I thought we worked very well together,'' Webb said. 'I feel more confident now that I've got the first round under my belt.'

For the 2001 season, Webb enters with high expectations of adding heftily to her 23 career victories on the women's circuit, seven of which came just last year.
 
For Saturday, however, she will need to post a score somewhere in the 60s to get within striking distance of Davies.