World no.1 Annika

England’s Laura Davies, who has posted three second places in Europe so far this season, shared fifth place at five shots back with Scot Catriona Matthew and Italian Veronica Zorzi.

Davies had a seven-under-par 66 which was the best score of the day. Davies’ round included eight birdies, one eagle and a triple bogey at the fifth hole, where she drove the ball into a bush and was forced to take a penalty drop. She chipped twice and three putted. Davies’ eagle came on the par-five first hole, where she hit a two-iron within 20 feet of the pin.

“Seven under with a triple was more than I could have hoped for,” said Davies. “The wind today was the hardest so far this week. It’s a crazy game.”

Davies admitted that instead of going to the range before teeing off she spent 45 minutes putting and it paid off. Fellow English player Karen Stupples carded a 72 and finished eighth with Sophie Sandolo, who had a 71.

Rebecca Hudson, the recent OTP Bank Ladies Central European Open Champion, had a 67 and shared tenth position with Swedes Helen Alfredsson, the Solheim Cup captain and Karin Sjodin, a rookie on the US LPGA, who leads the Tour driving average statistics.

Hudson said: “I’ve been struggling for the past couple of weeks so I’m really happy with that round. I missed the cut at British Open but can’t complain: I’ve had such a good year.”