PHOENIX (AP) — Laura Davies took a satisfying look at the scoreboard next to the 18th green. At 54 years old, and nearly 17 years since her last LPGA Tour victory, the Hall of Famer topped the Founders Cup leaderboard halfway through the third round.
"I said to my caddie, 'Jeez, I haven't been on top of the leaderboard for a long time,'" Davies said. "That's nice, obviously. You got to stay there. That's the biggest challenge."
The Englishwoman shot a 9-under 63 on Saturday at Desert Ridge, her best score on the tour since another 63 in the third round of the 2005 Wendy's Championship for Children. She has shot 62 twice.
Davies ended up tied for fourth, three strokes behind fellow Hall of Famer Inbee Park with a round left.
"If you've had one good round it's hard to back it up, but I'll certainly have a crack at it," Davies said. "At least I've given myself a chance now."
Davies birdied five of the final six holes on the front nine, made a 6-foot eagle putt on the par-5 11th and birdied the par-5 15th and par-3 17th in the bogey-free round.
"Just solid golf," Davies said. "Hit it close enough and hole some really good putts. On greens as beautiful as this, you have to be making your putts, and that's what happened today."
Davies is fighting Achilles tendon and calf problems in her left leg.
"I can swing as hard as I want with no feeling at all, but every step is just misery," Davies said. "My left leg has always been weak. The knee was bad last year and that stopped me from playing a couple of events."
She bristled at the thought of missing the final round.
"I'll crawl around if I have to," Davies said.
She was 11 under overall after opening with rounds of 73 and 69 in the event honoring the 13 women who founded the LPGA Tour in 1950.
"My putting is improved to no end and my ball-striking has always been pretty solid," Davies said. "My putting has been letting me down for the last four, five, six years. I changed to the claw grip in Arkansas last year and I've started to hole some putts."
Davies has more than 80 worldwide victories, four of them majors, and represented Europe in 12 Solheim Cups. She's trying to win for the fifth time in Phoenix after taking the Standard Register PING at Moon Valley four straight years from 1994-97.