|Laura Davies, the oldest winner of an LET event|
at 46 years and 146 days
England’s Laura Davies came to the Pegasus New Zealand Women’s Open with a star billing and showed why when winning the $400,000 co-sanctioned Ladies European Tour and ALPG event by two shots at Pegasus Town, near Christchurch.
Davies had four birdies and never dropped a shot in her closing round of four-under 68 to finish nine-under par, a win worth $60,000 but more importantly for her it brought her victories world-wide to 73 and meant New Zealand was another country she had ticked off the list.
Not that the win will stop her from returning next year to defend her crown. ``I love to play and love to win – that’s what keeps me motivated,’’ she said. She has won in the United States, most European countries, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand.
``India and Portugal are among the few places I’ve been to and not won and if I get a chance to play in South Africa I’d go there,’’ said the 46-year-old global golf traveller.
Davies started the final round in second place at five-under par, a shot behind Australia’s Sarah Kemp and she had fallen to two behind at the turn with the 24-year-old Kemp having had three birdies on the front nine to Davies’ two.
They were level after Davies birdied the 12th hole and the Englishwoman took the lead when Kemp bogeyed after failing to get up and down from a bunker. Davies holed what she called a ``crucial putt’’ for birdie at the par-5 16th to increase her lead to two and felt then that two pars would be enough to win.
That proved correct, Davies playing the last hole, a par-5 of 460m conservatively, hitting a No 5 iron off the tee, then a No. 6 iron and sand wedge to the green and two-putting.
``I was happy to make par and if she (Kemp) was good enough to eagle it then we would go to a play-off.’’
Davies contested the inaugural New Zealand Open at Clearwater last year, but found the course, with its amount of water and out-of-bounds areas, ``blew her mind’’.
She liked Pegasus at first sight and, seeing she was at 12 to one on an on-line betting site back home, rang her brother to say she was worth a bet. She didn’t know if he had followed her sage advice.
Kemp, as she did last year, finished joint runner-up after a one-under 71, her third sub-par round.
``She (Davies) was always going to be a tough competitor to beat so if I could pick someone to be in a match-play battle she would be the one – I knew Laura would be the one to beat.
Kemp shared second with first-round leader, Marianne Skarpnord, of Norway, and Sweden’s Pernilla Lindberg, who shot a sensational course record of nine-under 63 with 10 birdies.
Last year’s champion, Gwladys Nocera (France), and Georgina Simpson (England) were tied for fifth on five-under 283 and in a group of six on 284 and tied for seventh was the outstanding little 12-year-old from the Pupuke club in North Harbour, Lydia Ko, who finished with a 69 – her third sub-par round – to be the best of the New Zealanders.