|Laura Davies gives her thoughts on Royal Liverpool and the British summer of sport.
We have Laura Davies with us this morning, the 1986 Champion, who I believe is playing her 32nd appearance in the championship this week. In fact, one of the veterans in the field if you don't mind me saying that. You had a very good result last week, second; you must be feeling very confident coming in here.
LAURA DAVIES: Yeah, I've been playing well all year, putting has been the biggest problem but I putted nicely last week. I don't think I had a 3‑putt which is the biggest thing for me because that's been what's been letting me down. This golf course is a little by different to what we played last week in Austria but good golf is good golf no matter where you play.
Did you have a chance to play the course yet?
LAURA DAVIES: First round was yesterday in the Pro‑Am so it was a bit of a shock, the fairways are about as wide as if table I reckon, if that, on some occasions. And fabulous golf course. I think the Amateurs here in '91 might have been pros about five or six years.
As a very successful female player, to get into the Hall of Fame, how much would you like to do it here, or is it something you even think about?
LAURA DAVIES: Well, obviously, this would be the perfect place to do, it perfect time, everything would be absolutely ‑‑ couldn't imagine a better way to do it, so, yeah, obviously. But I've had about eight goes of winning this tournament to get in the Hall of Fame and I haven't done it.
You know, who knows, this year might be the one.
You're known as quite a big hitter, do you think that will help around here?
LAURA DAVIES: Joe and I, we have decided to take the approach, because all of the caddies, the chat before was you have to lay up before the bunkers to be sensible. You're going to be in some rough because the fairways are so tight, so we are going to be further down and in the rough near the greens. We might go down in flames, but we'll certainly have a go at it because this course will overpower you quickly if you're not careful.
With all of the media coverage of Lydia Ko, it can only be good for the women's game, and I know you're a big advocate of getting women into the game. What would be your message to any listening?
LAURA DAVIES: Young girls, well, just do what Lydia did, she won the Canadian Open and made it look very easy. A great talent; to win a pro tournament as an at 15 is pretty unprecedented. The calmness that she showed, just the way she conducted herself, she was brilliant. That's all you can say about it. So someone who wants to have fun and do that, it's not about effort.
What advice would you kind of give her about tackling a links course?
LAURA DAVIES: I don't think her game, she worries about much, links or otherwise. She just hits fairways because that's what she does. She will probably hit not so many greens as she was hitting in Canada but her putting was fantastic. I don't think she'll have to change her game at all because she is so straight off the tee. She is very calm and I don't think a bogey or a double‑bogey will affect her, because everyone is going to have probably one, and I'm sure she's going to take that on the chin because like I said, she seems very calm.
Just to echo the previous question, you're playing tomorrow with Emily Taylor, who has had a fantastic season as a 17‑year‑old amateur, again, stepping up to a big stage and crowd; what advice would you give her going out tomorrow?
LAURA DAVIES: Well, I've never seen her play and I don't know what her game is like. But again, I'm sure if she had a good season, her confidence is high; and if your confidence is high, you can pretty much play anywhere, any type of golf. So just keep doing what you're doing, if it's been working this year ‑‑ stepping on the first tee, you're going to have lots and lots of people and you have to blink that out somehow the best way you can do it. But I don't know what advice you can give someone. You can either do it or you can't.
What inspiration, if any, can you take from the Great Britain Olympic Team that had a fabulous Games and Andy Murray's win in the US Open? It just seems like it's been a brilliant summer for your country and sport.
LAURA DAVIES: Yeah, I think it would be nice if one of the home girls could win it. Catriona won it, and hopefully I'll be in the mix given my chance on Sunday. It would just end such a great summer of sport for Great Britain, and like you said, there's been a lot of good stuff out there and it would be nice if one of us could win this, because let's face it, that's what we all want.
What conditions would you say would suit your game best for this week?
LAURA DAVIES: I think from what I've heard ‑‑ if you get the worst possible weather report, the toughest conditions they can. But it seems like it's going to be incredibly hard out there and you've just got to, like I said, not be too defensive, because if you start getting defensive on a hard course in hard conditions, you've got no ‑‑ I always say, you've got no chance. So just try to be a bit more aggressive and stay ahead.
What's been the difference with your putting?
LAURA DAVIES: I've been putting well all year, they have not been going in. Last week a few putts went in, and I had a chance in Germany to win. Every week I've putted well this year, I've had two seconds and a third, and the weeks ‑‑ obviously a few weeks I have not played well. British Masters I had a good start and just didn't play well, so that wasn't putting.
But the problem this year, if I have not done well, it seems I have not holed enough putts. But I'm stroking it well, my caddie, people are watching me, and I do feel like I'm putting well. But when they keep burning the edges and lipping out and short in the jaws, it just makes you wonder why they won't go in.
Have you changed putters?
LAURA DAVIES: Johnny went and got one off his dad, the one we had when we had that five‑win year and he took it back off his dad because it was in his dad's front room, because they had given it to him. So we nipped it back off him and I've had that one ever since.
Just looking back at this tournament across the years, how has it changed, or got bigger than any other you've played in?
LAURA DAVIES: When I won it in 1986, it was big. I won the British Open, obviously it was massive. But now, look at the tented village, look at the golf courses we are playing; the crowd. The crowds have always been good at British Opens and they have not changed much. Obviously the TV crowd is pretty major but yeah, it's just bigger, better, and I can't say much more about it. We are on probably one of the hardest links golf courses I've ever seen in my life.
The Americans, does it strike them that it's grown? They talk about it now ‑‑
LAURA DAVIES: Oh, yeah they all want it. Maybe ten years ago when it was mentioned this might become a major, they are like, oh, who cares. But now they come over here and try to win a British Open on a links course, and this rivals for them probably the U.S. Open, which is their biggest, and this one will be very close now.
The British Olympic Team was carried by its women and it opened a lot to women in sport; how do you see that trickling down to golf?
LAURA DAVIES: This could be an interesting week really, because we all know how good we are and we want to show that on TV. But unfortunately this week, I think you're going to find bad scoring and we are probably not going to look like we are that good of golfers, purely because of the conditions.
But hopefully people will realise just how hard it is out here and realise how good we are and not judge us purely on the scores. I have heard people talking about 8‑over winning this week. That might be a bit extreme but they might not be that far off it the wind gets up to the forecasted strength. Hopefully they will watch us on TV and see how good we are.
With golf heading to the Olympics in Rio, it's got to be a good thing for the sport of golf in general to get it more recognised on TV at the start of the Olympic movement.
LAURA DAVIES: Yeah, I think every golfer wants to be on their nationality's team for the Olympics; why wouldn't you, it's the greatest show on earth. The tennis players have been in it for a long time now and if they are allowed to play in the Olympics, we should be, allowed to play, as well. On the women's Tour, it will be a sixth major, because we'll have five starting next year, and for the men I'm sure it will be considered their fifth major. So it's a huge thing for us.
Are there any holes on the course that stand out for you having played it for the first time yesterday?
LAURA DAVIES: They are all incredibly difficult. I mean, 16 downwind is easy but if the wind changes, it will be really difficult. Just depends on which direction the wind is coming in. But certainly I would say No. 3 is a monster. That's just one of the toughest holes you'll ever play.
17 could be a par 5 for us if they really wanted to. 18, a very disappointing hole because we are playing it so long but every hole is potentially, you know, trouble, but they are all fantastic. I mean, there's not one bad hole out there.
In these conditions, is this the toughest venue you've played in the Championship?
LAURA DAVIES: I played the Pro‑Am yesterday and it was unbelievably difficult. My first tee shot was in a 30‑mile crosswind in a fairway, like I said, as wide as this table. Good luck to everybody.
The bunkering, I always thought Lytham was one of the best bunkered golf courses I ever played, but I think this is on a par to it because you can see them all, and you can see what you're facing, and if they are hidden ‑‑ I don't know who designed it, but it's fantastic.
Apologies to the rest of the room for a parochial question, Liverpool. What do you make of the comings and goings of the outfield this summer?
LAURA DAVIES: I was hoping for a call to a striker's role Saturday. I don't know how it worked out that we lost our only true striker, but I'm sure Brendan knows what he's doing. But he's got my full backing if that means anything to him, I'm sure it doesn't.
What I have seen so far, there's nothing wrong there. It's a difficult start. I think the next game is Man‑United on Saturday and it's a hard start to the year. We knew we were going to be having not the best start purely because Man United tend to get a nice easy start ‑‑ I don't know how that works. I'm sure Sir Alex has got something to do with it.
To sort of follow on an earlier question, just do you think the Olympics changed forever how people in your country will view women's sports in general? Do you see more money, more attention being paid to female athletes?
LAURA DAVIES: Well, if it hasn't helped, then people have got very short memories. You could see the joy on people's faces, mine as well, when you won medals. That's what you want to do; if you love sport like I do, and everyone made such a big fuss of the Olympians. And hopefully they are going to back that up and support young girls coming through so in four years in Rio and we can keep winning medals.
So without backing for the youngsters and real potential sports people, they are never going to reach their full potential, so they have to be backed financially.
In the media, as well, presumably, because they have all got this wonderful coverage for a fortnight, but do you think for a lot of people that will be the end of it?
LAURA DAVIES: For the women's coverage?
For the women's and the entire Olympics.
LAURA DAVIES: I'm sure it will taper off, because the Olympics is the greatest show on earth and everyone throws everything behind the Olympics. Women's football and women's cricket will always be on the back seat and other sports will always be sort of the second division because that's the way television companies and corporations deal with women's sport.
It's always about the men and then the women come second. But that's never going to change, let's face it. I'm not saying it shouldn't change; it should change, obviously, but it won't.