Laura Davies: Can the British Lion do it again?
BY David Collinge | ALPG Tour | 2007 Women's Australian Open | General | 30 Jan 2007
After taking out the top honours on the LET’s money list for 2006, Laura Davies starts her 2007 season in defence of the Australian Women’s Open title at Royal Sydney Golf Club starting Thursday.
The 2004, and last, Australian Open was at Concord Golf Club and saw Davies – after a weather delay of a day – run away to victory by six strokes. Can she do it again? If her career history is anything to go by, the answer is probably yes.
Apart from Annika Sorenstam, no other person has dominated the Ladies European Tour to the degree Davies has. Last year, her seventh at the top of the Order of Merit, was reflective of her dominance. There are 67 career victories – including four major championships – a clear indication of her immense talent.
Consistency and current form are no problem either. In her 2006 European season, out of eleven starts Davies won once (the SAS Masters in Oslo) and took out six second places.
Tremendously popular with spectators around the world, Davies has secured a place in the mind of the Australian golfing public as a true favourite. A frequent visitor to our shores for a long time – she won the 1993 and 1994 Australian Masters – Davies attracts a solid following here whenever she plays.
Honoured with the award of a CBE for services to the game, Davies remains one of the European Tour’s greatest draw cards.
Evidence of her local popularity is not hard to find. In today’s Pro-Am tournament at Royal Sydney, she was teamed with some of the heavies from Golf Australia – who put their people with Greg Norman during the men’s Championship Pro-Am.
Strolling the undulating Royal Sydney course today, Davies looked relaxed and controlled. You can’t help but feel that this represents a pleasant way to start a competitive season of golf. She was certainly giving her playing partners something to chase – she put on a display of some of her trademark power hitting – to the delight of her generous following of spectators. Davies certainly tonks it!
Also with excited galleries today were Karrie Webb and US glamour girl Natalie Gulbis. Webb had a tremendous 2006 on the LPGA tour, winning five titles to take her to number two on the LPGA money list. She has won this event twice before, the last being at Yarra Yarra Golf Club in Victoria in 2002. With the recent resurrection of her game, Webb too seems at ease coming into this tournament.
Gulbis has been getting the bulk of the local mainstream media attention. Ranked number 17 in the world, she is no doubt seen by the organisers as a player to broaden this event’s appeal. She certainly seems no stranger to attention. She is yet, however, to win a tournament.
Davies, on the other hand, has won plenty. Whilst it might be un-Australian to say so, there are probably many Aussies who’d like to see Laura Davies successfully defend her Australian Women’s Open crown. Get out and see if she can.
Photo – Anthony Powter