GOLD COAST, Australia – Although she’s always joked about her disdain for practice, Laura Davies has a clear benefit she can point to – more than 20 seasons, and very few injuries.
Davies arrived at this week’s ANZ Australian Ladies Masters after claiming her 73rd worldwide title at the New Zealand Open last Sunday. It was also her 39th title on the Ladies European Tour.
She’s also won four majors, including the 1987 U.S. Open, and is close to qualifying for the Hall of Fame, needing just one more major or two LPGA wins.
The way she’s been playing lately – eight straight sub-par rounds, including a share of sixth place at an LPGA event in Thailand before winning the New Zealand Open – she might not be far away from either category.
The 46-year-old Davies credits her longevity – and recent form – with the lack of practice.
“You see so many young players now injured all the time, maybe it has something to do with all the practice,” Davies said Wednesday.
“If you want to play the amount of time I have played – this is my 23rd season – you can’t stand on the range all day. You have to be sensible.”
Davies said too much practice could have been the reason that six-time LPGA Tour winner Suzann Pettersen of Norway had to pull out due to a hip injury.
Still in the tournament that begins Thursday on the Royal Pines resort course are defending champion Katherine Hull of Australia, three major winners on the LPGA Tour last year – American Brittany Lincicome (Kraft Nabisco), Eun Hee Ji of South Korea (U.S. Open) and Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist (LPGA Championship).
Karrie Webb is also in the field, seeking her seventh Australian Ladies Masters title.
Heavy rain – over eight inches has hit the course over the past two days, canceling Wednesday’s pro-am and allowing for little practice time.
That suits Davies – a long hitter who has won here three times, including for the first time in 1993.
“It’s going to be playing wetter and longer than it usually does,” Davies said. “Anyone who carries the ball a long way will have an advantage. Accuracy is important, but this week it could be more about length.”
It’s just down to putting down here. If I can get the putter going early, and get some confidence on the greens, who knows?”
Davies, who has been in Australia for five of the past six weeks, also likes her chances of securing her fifth major this season.
“Nabisco, I love that golf course, I should have won once or twice there,” Davies said. “The U.S. Open I’m not qualified, but I’ll prequalify if I have do, and the British Open is at Royal Birkdale, which I know.”
Davies is a fan favorite here, playing in the annual cricket match against Australia on the grounds near the first tee at Royal Pines. She’s given up the frequent trips to a nearby casino in favor of gambling on horses and betting on English Premier League matches, where she’s taken a big hit this year as a lifelong Liverpool fan.
With the right kind of managing of her practice time – limiting it – Davies feels she could still be around for years to come.
“It means I’m getting older, but it’s good I’m still competitive,” Davies said. “Who knows, I might try and perform over five decades in 10 years’ time.”