Even at 47, England’s Laura Davies remains a force to be reckoned with in women’s golf.
Fresh off a Women’s Indian Open victory last month, Davies comes into this week’s Dubai Ladies Masters with another chance to win the Order of Merit given to the top golfer on the Ladies European Tour.
2010 DUBAI LADIES MASTERS
The Dubai Ladies Masters is the season-ending event on the Ladies European Tour.
Davies won the first of her seven Order of Merits in 1985.
The Englishwoman needs a top-two finish in this season-ending tournament to have any chance of grabbing the crown from Lee-Anne Pace, who will win it if she finishes in the top five. The 29-year-old Pace would become the first South African woman to win Order of Merit.
Davies has won five titles this year in New Zealand, Germany, Austria, Spain and India to lift her career total to 79.
“I played really well and really consistently in Europe this year,” Davies said.
“It’s a pretty simple equation. I have to finish first or second or else I’m done for the money list,” she added. “It could be a really great week for me. But I’m under no illusions. Lee-Anne is still the big favorite to actually win the money list. At least I have one more shot to turn the tables.”
Pace, who also has won five tournaments this year, said she respected Davies but wasn’t going to let her status as a golfing great change the way she approached the tournament at the Emirates Golf Club in Dubai.
“She’s a great player. She has won so many tournaments and has all the experience in the world,” Pace said. “At the same time, I’m still in form and playing really well. I don’t see myself worrying about her simply because I have to do what I have to do. I can’t think about how she is going to play.”
Davies is not the only player Pace has to watch in the 108-player field.
No. 7-ranked In-kyung Kim of South Korea, who won the tournament last year, is entered along with No. 10 Michelle Wie of the United States. There is plenty of buzz also around 15-year-old American Alexis “Lexi” Thompson, who turned professional only in June and will be making her first appearance in Dubai.
Wie, who hasn’t played since early November because of a bad back, said she was feeling better and was hoping for a “pain-free” tournament. She finished second last year.
“I’m feeling a lot better,” Wie said. “I’ve seen a few more doctors and getting treatment, and just trying to work out and get it stronger and I’m feeling good, Hopefully it will be good this week and it will behave.”
Davies, who needs one more major or two more LPGA Tour wins to qualify for the World Golf Hall of Fame, acknowledged there are plenty of promising, young golfers like the South Koreans, Wie and Thompson on the tour these days. But Davies said she was not yet ready to hand over the reins to a new generation.
“I have no plans to stop playing. If I’m competitive, I don’t want to do anything else,” she said. “I’ve always said if you can walk, you can play golf. It’s not like you have to be running the 100 meters in 9 seconds. You just have to walk around the golf course and if you are good enough, which obviously I still am, I don’t see an end to it.”
Davies said she has been inspired to keep playing by Tom Watson, who at 59 lost in a playoff to Stewart Cink in last year’s British Open.
“I use Tom as the milestone now,” she said. “And if he can beat those players at 59, then I don’t see why I shouldn’t play at 55, 56. … As soon as I’m not playing well enough, you won’t see me.”