Dame Laura Davies has bounced back from undoubtedly the worst year of her impressive 32-year career to tie the course record and take a two-stroke lead into the second round of the Oates Vic Open at 13TH Beach Links today.
The 53-year-old showed the more fancied youngsters playing this week a thing or two today, shooting a flawless 8 under par round on The Creek Course this morning. The Englishwoman was the first player to tee off this morning at 7am and wasted no time jumping out of the blocks quickly, making 4 birdies on her front 9 to make the turn in 4 under par 33.
Another birdie followed at the par 4 1st hole, Davies 10th hole of the day, before a superb eagle at the par 5 2nd hole took her to the top of the leaderboard at 7 under par. Her only “stumble” came at the par 5 7th hole where her drive took an unlucky bounce into a fairway bunker and she was forced to get up and down from the greenside bunker to save par on a hole that was well within reach for two shots.
Another birdie at the difficult par 4 8th hole followed, where the former world number 1 hit what she described as “the best shot I hit all day” hitting a 5 iron to the green after laying up from the tee with her trusty 2 iron.
The World Golf Hall of Famer was clearly both relieved and delighted with her round after what she described as “a dreadful year” in 2016, making just 8 cuts out of the 28 events she contested on the Ladies European Tour and LPGA Tours.
Davies admitted that she had also struggled with a leg injury in 2016 which had restricted her movement “I really struggled with my left leg last year, thankfully now I am feeling better and much stronger”
When asked if she felt that she could replicate her play today for the rest of the week Davies was less than bullish with her answer “ I would dearly love to shoot under par in each round and see where that takes me, but I feel like I am just learning to be competitive again after last year when I was just struggling to make cuts every week. It is almost like I am starting out again. If I play like I did today for the rest of the week I will win but who knows if I will do that”
Davies, who hit 15 greens in regulation and had just 29 putts in her round today said that switching to putting left-hand low had helped to get her confidence back on the greens “I just started putting left-hand low recently and it is feeling much better. I stayed with Rebeca Artis the last 2 weeks and watching how well she was rolling it made me give it a try. I have been leaving a lot of putts short and at times my putting stroke has felt really wristy. When you get older your hands can get a bit jumpy, this feels a lot more solid. “
Tied for second place at 6 under par is an impressive group of players including Western Australian Whitney Hillier, and European Solheim Cup stars Melissa Reid and Sandra Gal, all of whom played this morning on the slightly more forgiving Creek Course.
The next best placed Australians after round one were Katherine Kirk at 5 under, and Rebecca Artis, Tamara Johns and Hannah Green at 3 under par.
Tournament favourite and 2014 Champion Minjee Lee struggled early to be 3 over par through 13 holes, but fought back with two late birdies to shoot a one over par round of 74.
Tomorrow’s second round tees off on both the Beach and Creek courses at 13TH Beach Links from 7:00am.
Following completion of the second round the field will be cut to 60 professionals and ties, with a further cut after 54 holes, with the leading 35 players from both the men’s and the women’s competition competing in Sunday’s final round
Tee times and pairings
Live scoring link
The final two rounds will be streamed live at www.vicopengolf.com
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