Thursday, February 09, 2017


Golf: Laura Davies off to flying start at Victoria Open 
From the Sydney Morning Herald

An altered putting grip is keeping Laura Davies in touch with the young guns.  Photo: Getty Images

An altered putting grip to try to keep pace with the young guns has given English veteran Laura Davies a flying start to the women's Victorian Open at 13th Beach golf links.

Davies revelled on Thursday in calm conditions that greeted the early groups to fire an equal course record eight-under-par 65 around the Creek course of the 36-hole venue on Victoria's Bellarine Peninsula

The 53-year-old, with 84 titles worldwide, reverted to the left-hand-lower set-up on the putter after what she described as the most-embarrassing year of her career. She watched fellow Ladies European Tour (LET) player, Australian Rebecca Artis, improve her putting with the unconventional grip and noted that Karrie Webb also used it.

 "I was leaving every putt short and getting wristy, so that has really helped. I had 29 putts and my average last year would have been in the mid-30s, which is ridiculous because some of these youngsters are 25, 26 putts a round. So if I want to compete, I have to putt better and this is a really good start," Davies said.

"This is about the fourth round I've been doing it. I do practise on the putting green like that but I didn't take it into the round. But when you get older, your nerves get a bit frayed and the hands get jumpy, so maybe this is going to be enough to keep me solid through the ball."

The World Golf Hall of Fame member leads by two shots from a group including compatriots and housemates Holly Clyburn and Melissa Reid, the latter playing her last co-sanctioned LET tournament before joining the US LPGA tour after earning her card at the qualifying school.

Davies is fitter and stronger after overcoming a left leg problem that dogged her through the fruitless 2016 season.

 "I'm basically starting again because last year was the worst year of my career by quite some way. I'm going to say I missed 14 cuts, but it could have been more. And that's horrendous for a touring pro," she said. "I'm not saying I'm going to win this, but I would dearly love to shoot four rounds under par. That would be my goal. I feel like I'm learning to compete again. You can't just do that after you've missed so many cuts."

Davies is sharing a house with Clyburn and Reid in the nearby Barwon Heads township. And the trio more than compensated for their pre-dawn wake-up calls to be ready for their early tee-off times. Clyburn shot six-under 67 playing alongside Davies and they inspired the third group member, Korean amateur Hye-Jin Choi, who carded a 68.

Reid, playing two groups behind, made a solid start too. "It will be a happy household tonight," Reid said after signing for her 67. Tournament favourite Minjee Lee must focus on a sub-par second round after opening with a one-over 74.

Par 73
65 L Davies (Eng)
67 S Gal (Ger), W Hillier (Aus), N Broch Larsen (Den), M Reid (Eng), H Clyburn (Eng).
68 K Kirk (Aus), Hye-Jin Choi (SKor) (am), M Parra (Spn).
69 R Kay (Aus) (am), M Thomson (Sco)

70 H Burke (Eng), A Ashok (Ind).
71 F Parker (Eng), J Park (Eng), F Johnson (Eng), A Dimmock (Eng) (T22)
72 C Booth (Sco) (T35)
73 C Thomas (Eng) (T46)
74 S J Boyd (Eng) (T67)
75 K (Walker) Henry (Sco), S Walker (Eng) (T70)
76 A Boulden (Wal) (T84)
78 B Morgan (Wal), G Dryburgh (Sco), K Macdonald (Sco) (T113).