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Wild and Crazy

LPGA Tour _newORLANDO, Fla. – Wild rides, crazy turns.

On or off the course, you never know what to expect if you are a Laura Davies fan.

She has her followers on the edge of their seats again this week wondering what she’ll do next at the season-ending LPGA Tour Championship.

Davies may no longer be the best player in the world in women’s golf, but, even at 47, she’s still the most entertaining.

Three weeks ago, Davies was certain she was being kidnapped on the eve of the India Women’s Open in Delhi. When her golf clubs didn't arrive at the course, she took a taxi in hopes of picking them up at the airport. What was supposed to be a 15-minute drive turned into a heart-thumping 90-minute adventure.

Unable to understand her taxi driver, Davies became frantic when the driver veered into unknown parts of Delhi. She panicked when he stopped in the middle of the city and a stranger hopped into the car beside her. Certain she was going to be held for ransom, she began crying and trying to force the passenger out of the car. As it turned out, the driver was merely lost and pulled over for help in trying to get Davies to the airport.

Emotionally wrecked, Davies returned to her accommodations safely, but she didn’t get her clubs until three hours before she teed off the next morning. Still, she won the tournament.

Laura Davies
Laura Davies has won five LET titles this season. (Getty Images)

It was Davies' fifth Ladies European Tour title this crazy season.

The season only gets more wildly fun for her fans if she wins this week.

Davies set up that possibility posting a 2-under-par 70 on a difficult course in cold, windy conditions Thursday at Grand Cypress Golf Club. She’s tied for fourth, three shots behind Amy Yang and Seon Hwa Lee.

If the magic continues, if Davies somehow wins, she’ll be the oldest winner in the history of the LPGA, surpassing the mark held by Beth Daniel, who won the Canadian Women’s Open at 46 years, 8 months and 29 days old. Come Sunday, Davies will be 47 years and 2 months old.

If the Englishwoman can win, she’ll pull within a single point of entry into the LPGA Hall of Fame.

“People really want her to make it,” says Jonny Scott, her caddie. “You hear them saying that a lot. You know, she probably could have made it 10 or 15 years ago if she played more over here, but she wanted to support the Ladies European Tour as well.”

LPGA Hall of Fame qualification is based on points. Davies needs 27 points to qualify. She’s been sitting on 25 points for nearly a decade, since she won the Wegmans Rochester Invitational in 2001. That’s a long time to be sitting on the Hall of Fame’s doorstep. If she were the most tormented soul in women’s golf, if she snapped clubs over her knees at every tournament, or tossed clubs into lakes and ponds, fellow players would understand. But Davies doesn’t. She seems unaffected.

“Don’t get me wrong, I want to make it,” Davies said. “But until I’m one point away, I’m not going to get excited about it. I might change my attitude if I get within one point.”

An LPGA tournament victory is worth one point, a major championship victory worth two points.

With 78 worldwide victories, 44 on the Ladies European Tour and 20 with the LPGA, Davies already seems like a Hall of Famer, no matter how the points add up. She’s won four major championships. She was the LPGA’s Rolex Player of the Year in 1996.

Asked if she feels like a Hall of Famer, Davies shakes her head “no.”

“People have said, `Oh, [the Hall of Fame criteria] should be changed,’” Davies said. “Well, it shouldn’t. It’s the hardest Hall of Fame to get into. I’ve had 23 years out here, if I’m not good enough to win [25] points, that’s my fault, nobody else’s.”

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.

Davies played Thursday alongside Suzann Pettersen and Na Yeon Choi, both of whom are vying to claim the No. 1 world ranking this week. Davies signed for a score three shots better than both. It begged the question: With five European titles this year, does she feel like she’s good enough to competing for the No. 1 world ranking?

“They’ve got the consistency, that’s the difference,” Davies said. “If I had their consistency, you never know. I’m more hit and miss.”

But . . .

“In any given week, I can easily be the best player in the world,” Davies said. “But over the period of a year, perhaps my day is gone, that sort of thing. I’m 49th in the world. That tells you the story.”

The Ladies European Tour isn’t as strong at the top or as deep as the LPGA, but Davies is impressing with her run at her record eighth Order of Merit title. She’ll have a chance to claim it in Dubai next week. She’s just 71st on the LPGA money list this season with two top-10s in 14 starts.

“It’s been a poor year in America, a good year in Europe,” Davies said. “If I can just have a couple good weeks, this one and next week in Dubai, I would consider it a really good year.”

Another wild, crazy year for Davies.