Laura Davies should be one of the most tormented souls in women’s golf.
If she snapped golf clubs over her knees at every tournament, or tossed them into lakes along her way, who could blame her?
For almost 10 stinking years, Davies has figuratively played her way to the front door of the LPGA Hall of Fame, ringing the door bell and rattling the door knob in bids to gain entry to an establishment that remains closed to her.
Since 2001, Davies has been two agonizing points shy of gaining entry to the revered home of greatness. That’s when she won the Wegmans Rochester International, her last LPGA title.
With 25 Hall of Fame points, Davies needs to win two more LPGA events or one major championship to gain the 27 points needed to qualify for induction as an active tour member.
With a 4-under-par 68 in Thursday’s first round of the LPGA State Farm Classic, Davies makes us wonder if she is ready to rattle door knobs again.
If Davies turns back the clock and wins, she would be 46 years, 8 months and 8 days old when she hoisted the trophy on Sunday. That would make her 21 days younger than Beth Daniel was when she became the oldest winner of an LPGA event at the Canadian Women’s Open in 2003.
With Juli Inkster, 49, also in the hunt in Springfield, Ill., we could be treated to a delightfully entertaining throwback weekend.
Yes, the odds are against it with so many gifted young players on the rise, but the ageless duo is showing something already this season. They’re showing more than good form.
Davies, whose 74 worldwide titles includes four LPGA major championships, has already won twice overseas this year. She won the New Zealand Women’s Open in February and the Ladies German Open last month. She was runner-up to Yani Tseng at the Australian Women’s Open in March.
Since her last LPGA victory, Davies has won 10 international titles that don’t count toward LPGA Hall of Fame membership and finished second in five LPGA events.
So being on the doorstep for so long must torment her, right?
“Not really,” Davies said Thursday when asked if she thinks about Hall of Fame membership. “There’s enough pressure out here every week without worrying about the ultimate prize. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. I’ve had a good run of it. If I come up short, that’s how it is.”
Tormented? Deep down, maybe, but we’ll never really know. The deal with Davies is that the close calls never appear to stick with her. That’s because she’s delightfully distracted.
Davies has always enjoyed her life beyond the game. She knows how to have fun even when her golf ball’s misbehaving. She’s a diehard soccer fan who was once fined by the Ladies European Tour for watching England play Spain on a portable television in the middle of the final round of the Evian Masters. She would hit a shot, then flip on her television. An avid gambler, she was once a bookmaker’s assistant who has owned race horses and lots of fast sports cars in her life.
Someday, Davies should have her big Hall of Fame party whether she gets to 27 HOF points or not. She should be a shoe-in to get in via the veterans category if she doesn’t play her way in, but there might be a long wait. She can’t gain entry that way until five years after she’s no longer an active player and she fully intends to play well into her 50s.
In the mean time, Davies will be more than a sentimental favorite when the LPGA Championship is played in two weeks in Rochester, N.Y. A two-time LPGA Championship winner, she’ll also be a past champion at Locust Hill Country Club. Her last LPGA title at Wegmans came on that course.