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Davies Aging Like A Fine Wine

Though the clatter and bang of kitchen pots and pans gave the impression of a somewhat temperamental cook at work, that was not the case. Laura Davies was simply multi-tasking in the kitchen, knocking up all three of an apple pie, a blackberry tart and a tray of Yorkshire puddings.

The pies and the puddings added up to three more triumphs. Yet the curious thing about Davies’ cooking is that she adheres strictly to the recipe books – Delia Smith’s to be precise. In golf, in contrast, she has never had a teacher. When something goes wrong, she simply waits for it to come right. She knows there will come a day when she stands on the first tee and finds herself thinking, “I’m going to knock it down the middle.”

Her latest Srixon driver has encouraged this feeling. When she was out in Portland in the summer, the Srixon men handed her a new club – the same model as the one she had in her hands – and suggested she give it a whirl. They said they had set it up specially for her.

So what exactly had they done?

There was no danger of Davies, who will be 47 next Tuesday, launching into a litany of the technical ins and outs. “Something to do with lies and launch angles and that kind of malarkey,” she began. “To be honest, I don’t have a clue. All I know is that it works. I’m not hitting the odd extreme fade which used to get me into trouble, and that, in turn, has given me the confidence to hit it further.”

Davies, whose Srixon equivalent when it comes to driving on the roads is a spanking new Mercedes, is also sharper on the greens. Here, she did not take herself off to a Dave Pelz but instead dipped into the hundreds of tips and old wives’ tales she had heard across the years. Eventually, she decided to go with one which once worked for Nick Faldo. Namely, keeping her head down until she can hear the ball drop.

Asked to pick out an aspect of her play where she is better than she was 10 years ago, this winner of four majors has no hesitation in opting for attitude.

“In my case,” she avers, “it has come with the years as much as anything else. I’ve come to realise that there’s a lot more to lose than to gain when anger comes into the equation. I’m just not inclined to throw shots away any more.” As, indeed, she demonstrated in her most recent win in Spain. After amassing a quadruple-bogey at the 13th to lose her lead, she simply built up a new one, notching two birdies in the last four holes, for her fourth win of the season.

Currently, Davies is enjoying a fortnight at her Surrey base. Her former home boasted a football pitch, cricket nets and a tennis court. Today, she has a couple of acres fewer but a larger house featuring more indoor games. There is a snooker table, a darts board and table-football chez Laura, along, would you believe, with the latest in “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” arcade games.

Following a week glued to the Ryder Cup on TV, she will fly out to join the LPGA where two more regular-event wins, or one major, would qualify her for the Hall of Fame. She is anxious to make the grade, but only if she can play her way in. If someone were to nominate her simply because she has come close, she would turn the honour down. “If I haven’t done enough, I haven’t done enough,” she says matter of factly.

Davies has more or less secured her berth in the 2011 Solheim Cup at Killeen Castle. But there will have to come a point when she and Alison Nicholas, the European captain, clear the air following what happened at the 2009 match in Chicago. To recap, Laura played on the opening morning but was dropped for each of the next three series when Nicholas felt she was not her usual golfing self.

Though Nicholas maintains that she thought Davies was “okay” with being left out, Davies says that nothing could have been further from the truth. “Sitting on the side-lines is the last place you want to be during a Solheim Cup,” she says. “You want to be out there playing, and I wasn’t playing badly.”

These old comrades-in-arms have never attempted to talk things through. Davies would seem to be employing her golfing mantra of hanging in there until things more or less come right on their own. “There’s a long time to the match so let’s see how we go,” she says, wryly.

Mind you, she is just as capable of acting on the spur of the moment. In which connection, nothing maybe captures the player better than that occasion when she and some LPGA colleagues flew out in mid-tournament for a night on the tables in Las Vegas.

When they returned the next morning, Davies’ bleary-eyed companions scored in the high 70s. Davies, looking every inch the consummate professional, handed in a 68.


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