(Sydney, Australia February 28 2003) England’s Laura Davies provided the large galleries at Terrey Hills GC with another grandstand finish to snatch the halfway lead at the $Aus500,000 AAMI Australian Women’s Open.

The 39-year-old from Byfleet in Surrey, who finished her first round with a birdie and an eagle, closed on Friday with consecutive birdies for a second round 68 to add to her course record 65 for an 11 under par total.

Davies takes a one shot lead over Australian rookie Rebecca Coakley, who mirrored her opening five under par 67.

But defending champion Karrie Webb from Australia is back in the fray after shooting an impressive 67, declaring it was the worst she could have scored on a benign day, having not capitalised with her putter.

Webb shares third place on eight under alongside Beth Bauer from America, last year’s LPGA rookie of the year, who had a 66 to add to her first round 70 and Mexican Lorena Ochoa who had a 69.

Kelly Robbins, another American sits alone in sixth place after a 69 and England’s Joanne Morley claimed seventh outright on six under after a brace of 69s.

And seven players share eighth place on five under par including Denmark’s Iben Tinning who had an extremely up and down day for a 71, which included an eagle three at the opening hole, four birdies, three bogeys and a double bogey at the 17th.

The Dane sits alongside Scots Mhairi McKay (67) and Janice Moodie (70), birthday girl Samantha Head, who turned 30 today (69), fellow Englishwoman Alison Nicholas (72), Karine Icher from France (68) and Valerie van Ryckeghem fro Belgium (73).

Davies, who is aiming for back-to-back wins in Australia admitted to having a mixed day, hitting two poor drives but “steadied the ship” coming home. Birdies at the first, sixth and eighth saw her cruise to an outward half of 33.

But Davies’ round became unstable at the tenth where she got up and down for par from 100 yards out after trouble off the tee and consecutive bogies followed at the 11th and 12th. But the former world number one came home with birdies at the 13th, 17th and defied the “borderline” pin position at the last hole when she sneaked in a ten foot birdie.

“It was a little bit rocky out there in the middle but I steadied the ship and came home with a strong finish,” said Davies.

“Apart from two poor drives and a stupid three putt at 12, other than that it was pretty much like yesterday.”

And with Webb cruising into contention again and declaring that her 67 could have been much better, Davies almost welcomed the challenge over the weekend.

“She’s obviously playing very well if she’s shot five under and not happy with it,” added Davies.

“Karrie’s the type of player who hits a lot of greens and if she gets it going then I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing. But there are a few other good player’s right there.”

And with this being Davies’ seventh straight round at 68 or better whilst she has been in Australia, she admitted that it was huge motivation going into the final two holes.

“That’s what I was thinking, first if I could birdie the 17th to make it all rounds in the 60s and then on the last, I was aiming for all rounds at 68 or better.

“I set myself a goal (on every course) to have two halves of 33. That’s the ideal way and if I’m playing well, it’s very attainable.”

Davies heads into the third round with Coakley, the reigning Irish Amateur strokeplay champion, who rattled off nine birdies in her round, which included six in seven holes either side of the turn.

But the 21-year-old from Adelaide who holds both an Irish and Australian passport is not daunted at playing with one of her idols.

“I’m really looking forward to it, I hear Laura is a lot of fun and I’m sure I’ll have a great day,” said Coakley, who admitted to being disappointed to not sharing the lead after her bogey at the 17th.

“This week I’ve been playing some good golf and holing putts. I seem to read these greens better.”

And a special mention must go to Marine Monnet from France, who equalled the Tour record for most consecutive birdies.

The 24-year-old from Paris carded red numbers from the tenth to 16th holes to match the record set by her playing partner Trish Johnson at the 1998 Palmeraie Open, also tying Regine Lautens record from the 1988 European Masters.

“I knew that I needed three or four birdies to make the cut,” said Monnet, who opened with a seven over par 79.

“I knocked a couple of shots close and then made some great putts and then I just went for it, it was amazing!”

Monnet was only one birdie shy of tying the world record of eight in a row, set by Annika Sorenstam at the Standard Register PING in 2001, when she became the first woman to shoot 59.