(Sunningdale, England July 30 2004) England’s Karen Stupples took advantage of an early tee time in round two of the £1.05million Weetabix Women’s British Open at Sunningdale in Berkshire, and is on course to become the first British winner of this championship since 1991 when Penny Grice-Whittaker lifted the trophy at Woburn.

Karen Stupples – faultless 36 holes

“I’m a little tired and I had a bit of a restless night last night. I kept waking up going ‘is it time to wake up yet’.

“I think once you’ve had a really good round, it’s difficult to keep up the pace. Annika can do it, but I don’t know many others who can. I think to maintain that kind of pace would be really tough. To have a little breather is good and I should be able to come out at the weekend and feel strong and ready for it – I think on the weekend here, as nobody is working, it will be packed.”

All but 25 tickets for Friday’s play were sold and the galleries are expected to arrive en masse at the weekend with the forecast hot and sunny again. Those who attend will have a double delight of British contenders for the £160,000 first prize as Laura Davies, with 66 titles to her credit, is close enough to mount a charge and her knowledge of this course is as good as anyone’s.

“I’m just chasing Karen and trying to keep within reach of her,” said Davies who lives in nearby Ottershaw.

“I had a nice finish and birdied three of the last five holes, so I think 32 coming back will be one of the best scores out there today.

“I’m pleased to see another English player up there doing really well, the fact she’s English is irrelevant, the fact she’s nine under is relevant!

“Every time I play with her, she’s impressive hits the ball really long with very aggressive shots into the pins, she’s the real thing, definitely. She’s not going to let up, someone is going to have to go out there and find her.”

Meanwhile, in a tearful interview on the BBC, Nicholas, winner of this event in 1987, announced her impending retirement from professional tournament golf at the end of this season.

After 20 years travelling around the globe, and winning 12 events on the LET and six other worldwide victories, including a memorable victory in the 1997 Women’s US Open, when she defeated the legendary Nancy Lopez at Pumpkin Ridge, Nicholas, also known as ‘Big Al’ opted to call it a day.

“It’s time to move on now,” said a tearful Nicholas, who made the cut on two over par with a second round 71.

“I’ve got Osteoarthritis in my neck and my body is telling me to slow down a bit and it really is time to look at something else outside golf.

“I’m really going to miss the crack on Tour and I’ve achieved everything I ever could have dreamed of, especially the US Open. When I began playing golf, I was given Nancy’s book and she was always my idol. It really was a bit surreal to beat her at that event and it’s my most cherished moment.

“I’m still going to be involved with the game as Vice-captain of The Solheim Cup, so I won’t be completely disappearing and it would be so special to me if we as a team could go and win the trophy over in the USA next year…that would really top off a wonderful career for me.”