English veteran Laura Davies is playing some of her best golf at age 47 and finds herself among the favorites in a strong field for the Women’s Australian Open starting Thursday.
Davies, who powered her way to second on the Ladies European Tour money list in 2010, joins world No. 1 Jiyai Shin, fourth-ranked Yani Tseng and four-time winner Karrie Webb at the par-73 Commonwealth Golf Club.
2011 WOMEN'S AUSTRALIAN OPEN
The Australian Open is the biggest women's event Down Under, as well as the kickoff to the 2011 Ladies European Tour season.
With five victories last year, Davies says she is puzzled by the persistent questions about when she’ll retire.
“I’m always asked the same question -- whenever I win a tournament the first question is, ‘When are you going to retire?”’ she said Wednesday. “And I always answer, ‘I just won the tournament, why would I retire?”’
Davies says golf is a game you can play until whatever age you want, “and if you’re playing well and you’re competing, and not making a mug of yourself, why not keep out there doing it?”
“Hopefully (her 2010 season) will keep the people quiet that think that when you’re 47 you should retire,” Davies said. “Tom Watson nearly won the (British) Open at 59.”
Tseng will be aiming for back-to-back titles after winning last year’s Australian Open by three shots over Davies.
Webb, a seven-time major winner, hopes her home event will get her year off to a strong start while leaving behind some 2010 disappointments, including a 17th-place finish at the U.S. Open.
“I know how well I can play. It’s really letting go of the reins and also just getting on a roll,” Webb said. “You have consecutively good weeks and a couple of wins and it doesn’t seem that much more of a stretch to continue doing it -- it’s just getting to that point.”
The Women’s Australian Open has a two-tee start, with Tseng, Australian Katherine Hull and Frenchwoman Gwladys Nocera forming a group teeing off early from the 10th hole.
Davies, Lindsey Wright and Melissa Reid will be in the following group, while Webb will start her opening round after lunch on the first tee alongside American teen phenom Alexis Thompson and rising LPGA Tour star Stacy Lewis.