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WILMINGTON, Del. -- Laura Davies has made no special preparations for the 41st annual LPGA Championship, which opens today at the DuPont Country Club. After all, she has won the past two tournaments here and is in the midst of another outstanding season.

Actually, she is a little surprised by her current success.

She is the only multiple winner (two) this year and has finished in the top six in six of her eight events, and in the top 20 the other two. In the process, the British woman has taken charge of the earnings race.

"After last year, I wasn't sure what would happen, so I'm surprised, to say the least," she said before a practice round earlier this week. "I'm not hard on myself, anyway, although I never give up. It's just that you shouldn't get upset with yourself when things don't go right.

"It ends up being a mind game, but you can't look back. If I'm having a bad week, I figure I'll get it back the next one. And, if I have a chance on Sunday morning, it's been a great week.

"All you ask for is to be in contention. This year, I went for a couple of shots that didn't turn out well. Last year [in similar circumstances], I went for a couple that won me tournaments."

That turned out to be a benchmark year, as she went to the final tournament in position to sweep the LPGA's major awards -- Player of the Year, Vare Trophy (lowest stroke average), and No. 1 on the money list.

At the finish, Beth Daniel picked up Player of the Year (by one point) and the Vare Trophy (by .01 point), after Davies left an eight-foot putt inches short.

"The fact they came down to one point shows the importance of giving it 100 percent on every shot," she said.

Two years ago, she led or shared the lead at the end of each round in winning the last McDonald's championship by two shots. Last year, when McDonald's picked up the LPGA Championship after four years at Bethesda Country Club, she was tied going to the last round, shot 3-under-par 68, and won by three.

"This course sets up to my game," said Davies, 31. "It's long [at 6,386 yards], and even though there are trees, the fairways are reasonably generous. Each of the par-3s is different [ranging from 156 yards to 192 yards], and I can reach the par-5s [from 465 yards to 528 yards] in two."

Davies, an LPGA member since winning the 1987 U.S. Women's Open championship, long has been known for her length off the tee. Last year, she led in driving distance with an average of 253 yards, and this year her leading average is up to 269 yards.

NOTES: The field includes the top 48 money-winners, plus four with Maryland ties -- Baltimorean Jenny Murdock, former Baltimorean Tina Barrett, Bethesda's Kim Williams and Troy Beck, assistant professional at Glenn Dale Golf Club, who earned her way into the field from the Teaching and Club Professional Division. . . . Also in is Sandra Palmer, 54, who recently won her fifth straight Sprint Senior Challenge (a 36-hole event for players 45 and over). She has made the cut in three of five regular tournaments, including a tie for 11th at the Dinah Shore. She has won 21 events, including a U.S. Women's Open, in a 32-year career.


When: Today through Sunday.

Where: DuPont CC, Wilmington, Del.

Course: 6,386 yards; par 35-3671

Purse: $1.2 million (first, $180,000; second, $111,711; third, $81,519).

Defending champion: Laura Davies.

Field: 141 players, including this year's top 48 money-winners.

Format: Four daily 18-hole rounds (72 holes).

Tickets: $14 today and tomorrow; $16 Saturday and Sunday. Parking and shuttle service available. Call (800) 600-LPGA.

Directions: Parking and shuttle service to the club available at Delaware Park (I-95/Delaware Exit 4) and old Brandywine Raceway (I-95/Wilmington/ Exit 8-Route 202/Concord Pike). LPGA signage at both exits.

TV: Saturday, 4 p.m.-6 p.m., chs. 13, 9; Sunday, 3 p.m.-6 p.m., chs. 13, 9.

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