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Davies Missing Major

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RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. -- Laura Davies is a little bit of everyone.
 
She takes her golf all over the globe like Gary Player and Ernie Els, winning every year on some continent since her first full season as a pro in 1985. Last year alone, Davies won in Europe, Japan, Australia and the United States.
 
She hammers the ball like John Daly.
 
The statistics don't bear that out, because Davies has a bit of 'Wild Thing' in her and usually hits irons off the tee to keep the ball in play. Still, only a limited number of players could reach the par-5 10th hole in two shots at Pine Needles last year in the U.S. Women's Open. Davies got home with a 1-iron and a 3-iron.
 
She practices about as much as Bruce Lietzke, spending her time away from golf working in her vegetable garden at home in England, where she has a soccer field in the backyard and often invites friends over for a game.
 
At the Kraft Nabisco Championship this week, she'll be like Greg Norman at the Masters.
 
'This tournament always haunts me,' Davies said of the only major championship keeping her from winning the career Grand Slam.
 
'This course should be perfect for me. The fact I haven't won is a bit of a mystery.'
 
Only five women have won the career Grand Slam on the LPGA Tour. The latest additions to the most exclusive club in women's golf were Juli Inkster in 1999, and Karrie Webb last year at the LPGA Championship.
 
Davies figured to be among them by now, especially after winning the U.S. Women's Open at age 24 in 1987, and adding the LPGA Championship and the now-defunct du Maurier Classic just as she was coming into her prime.
 
There have been collapses on the Dinah Shore course at Mission Hills Country Club, although nothing like what Norman has experienced at Augusta National.
 
In 1994, perhaps her best chance to win, Davies had a one-stroke lead over Donna Andrews going to the 526-yard 18th hole with an island for a green. She played for par, hitting a 4-iron off the tee. It went into the rough, and after an 8-iron to some 60 feet from the hole, she three-putted for bogey.
 
Andrews hit her approach to 6 feet, made birdie and walked away a winner.
 
A victory this week not only would give Davies a full complement of major titles, but also enough points to qualify for the LPGA Hall of Fame. That's only an afterthought.
 
'Winning Nabisco, if I had to say which is the most important, it would have to be that one,' she said. 'It would be nice to get into the Hall of Fame, but we don't have anything like that in England, so it's not something high on the priority list. To win all four majors is total satisfaction. I would love to get all four.'
 
Despite a brilliant career ' 63 victories around the world, 20 on the LPGA Tour ' Davies has heard suggestions that she should travel less and practice more.
 
Davies hardly touched a club during her nine-week break. Tournament weeks aren't much different. She is more likely to be found at casinos or a mall than on the practice range, especially if the range is not within walking distance.
 
'If I can't see the range, I won't go to the range,' she once said.
 
Annika Sorenstam swims, lifts weights, runs and even does a little kickboxing to stay in shape and keep her competitive edge.
 
Davies goes shopping.
 
'It works for me,' she said. 'It wouldn't necessarily work for others. I don't just think about golf 24 hours a day. I don't practice day in and day out. If I'm playing well, I'll leave well enough alone ' the pro-am, hit a few balls, play tournament rounds.
 
'It's an obsession for some, and that's fine. Some people do really well. How long they last is another thing.'
 
This is her 18th season as a pro. At 38, she doesn't know how much longer she can stay competitive, although she is quick to point out that not a year has gone by without her winning somewhere around the world.
 
Only once in the past 10 years has she failed to win on the LPGA Tour.
 
Still, mention the 'Big Three' on the LPGA Tour and her name is not on the list. The focus in women's golf is on Sorenstam, Webb and 24-year-old Se Ri Pak, who also can claim the career Grand Slam with a victory this week.
 
'If I could transport my brain to the course, I would be as good as them,' Davies said. 'I'm looking into the trees, and not down the fairway. It's been a bit of a mental struggle.'
 
Davies says she might have 10 more cracks at the Nabisco, and it means enough to her that she has been working harder at her game. Just two weeks ago in Phoenix, she spent three hours hitting balls.
 
'I got blisters,' she said. 'And they hurt.'
 
Full Coverage of the 2002 Kraft Nabisco Championship