x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Age only a number for golf veteran Laura Davies

The 50 year old hopes to build on her 84 career wins at the upcoming Dubai Ladies Masters, writes John McAuley.

Laura Davies, 50, is still having fun playing golf. Petr Eret / AP Photo
Laura Davies, 50, is still having fun playing golf. Petr Eret / AP Photo

DUBAI // Having only recently blown out the candles on a milestone birthday, Laura Davies is in no mood to call an end to the celebrations just yet.

A venerable performer in women’s golf over the past 28 years, when she reached age 50 early last month, she simply continued the modus operandi that has delivered 84 professional titles: seek more victories.

“It’s no problem,” Davies said on Monday before this week’s Omega Dubai Ladies Masters. “Everyone gets older.”

Although, where women’s golf is concerned, winning and old age seem to be diametric opposites.

Take for instance Lydia Ko and Lexi Thompson, the 2011 Dubai champion, both exceptionally gifted teenagers more concerned with challenging for trophies than obsessing over the lads in One Direction. Or Charley Hull, 17, who has taken by storm this year’s Ladies European Tour and could someday rival Davies as the greatest English female golfer.

Despite Hull having become a firm friend, the yawning age gap is not lost on Davies.

“I could be her mother,” Davies said. “In fact, I could almost be her grandmother.”

Given her status on tour and her congenial disposition, Davies is an obvious choice to play the maternal figure. Indeed, the pair plan to take in an English Premier League match together early next year – Davies received two tickets for her birthday – and the comradeship that has developed between the game’s elder stateswoman and its latest young contender is blossoming.

This week, though, is another matter.

“It’s always fun to get out there and play golf with them and try to beat them,” Davies said.

“Because they want to beat me and I want to beat them. Once you’re on the course together, you just want to win. That’s what professional sport is all about, not to finish second.”

Anyway, coming home runner-up has already been done. In 2007, Davies lost out the Dubai trophy when Annika Sorenstam beat her by two strokes. Davies then responded with third- and fourth-place finishes the following seasons, yet she has since struggled around the Majlis. In 2011, Davies even missed the cut.

That a last noteworthy title came at the 2010 Indian Open does not sit well, either. So a belated birthday present this week at Emirates Golf Club would be very welcome, indeed.

“I remember what my last tournament win was, but I want to know what my next one will be,” said Davies, who envisages another five or six years competing on the European circuit.

“I’m a life member, so they can’t get rid of me.

“Just because you get a bit older doesn’t mean you can’t still compete week-in, week-out. All I want to do is win. My enthusiasm is still right there.”