by Andrew Spence
Laura Davies has not won on the LPGA tour since 2001 but that does not stop the big-hitting Brit from believing she can still mix it with the best.
Davies, 53, returns to the LPGA tour tomorrow in the first round of the ISPS Handa Australian Open in Adelaide.
The 20-time LPGA winner tuned up for the event in the South Australian capital at the Victorian Open last week and led the field with an 8-under opening round.
The tournament was won by English compatriot Melissa Reid with Davies finishing in a tie for 26th .
“I’m playing really well and the putting is turning around so I’ll be disappointed if I don’t win somewhere in the world this year,” she said after today’s Pro-Am event.
“When I putt well I score well and last week I hit 15 greens, had 29 putts and there’s 8 –under par and it was an easy 8-under as well – it could have been better.”
The often windswept Par 73 Royal Adelaide layout follows a links style and is heavily bunkered.
Davies, who was made a Dame by the Queen in 2014, is the oldest player in the field this week but said she was injury free and feeling good.
She said the smaller greens at Royal Adelaide compared to last year’s Australian Open at neighbouring course The Grange where she missed the cut would suit her game.
“The better ball strikers will do well here, especially if it’s windy,” the four-time major winner and former World No.1 said.
“I’m hitting it well and I’m really pleased with my game so all the signs are good but putting holds the key for me and I’m happy with the putting at the moment so we’ll see what happens.”
Despite slipping to number 359 in the world on the back of 11 of 15 missed cuts on the LPGA tour in 2016, Davies is determined to stick at it.
“I haven’t won for such a long time on the LPGA tour you’d have to say it’s unlikely, but in my mind I feel like I’m still good enough, it’s just a matter of whether I can string those four rounds together.
“It’s a long shot but I don’t want to retire wondering if I should have gone on for a few more years so that’s why I’m still going because I feel like I’ve still got something to offer.
“It gets tougher every year – these players are getting better and younger.”
The field for the event also includes the world’s top two ranked players Lydia Ko and Ariya Jutanugarn along with defending champion Haru Nomura, Michelle Wie and exciting Canadian teenager Brooke Henderson.
The Aussies will also have a strong representation led by Karrie Webb, Minjee Lee and Sue Oh in what is being billed as one of the strongest women’s fields ever assembled Down Under.
Davies is paired with Japan’s Sakura Yokomine and Taiwanese player Yani Tseng for the first two days.
For more on the ISPS Handa Australian Open, read: