Davies hangs on, ends skid

PITTSFORD, New York, Reuters

Laura Davies ended a 13-month victory drought by winning the LPGA Rochester International by three shots from American Wendy Ward at the Locust Hill Country Club on Sunday.

The 38-year-old Briton, who finished nine-under-par on 279 after a closing two-over 74, described it as “probably the most important victory of my entire career”.

Ward’s final-round 67 gave her a total of 282, one ahead of Sweden’s Maria Hjorth (72).

Americans Brandie Burton, Rosie Jones, Jenny Lidback, Kelli Kuehne and Emilie Klein, and Britain’s Mhairi McKay shared fourth place on 284.

Before the tournament began, Davies told her brother, Tony, not to “waste his money” by betting on her to win the event at odds of 66-1. But she went on to cash in by taking home the $150,000 first prize.

“He’ll get a percentage anyway because he’s my manager,” she said.

Davies, whose last win came at the Philips Invitational Honoring Harvey Penick event in May 2000, led by five shots overnight and widened it to six by reaching the turn on 12-under-par.

Hjorth closed the gap to four strokes when she birdied the 16th and Davies bogeyed it. But the Swede dropped a shot at the next hole and the British player could even afford the luxury of a double bogey at the 18th.

Davies was pleased that her slump in form could be consigned to history.

“One minute you think you’re rubbish, and I was playing like rubbish, and the next you’re winning,” she said.

“I have now won my 20th tournament (on the LPGA Tour). I wasn’t joking when I said I felt really bad about my whole game. I am shocked because I genuinely didn’t think I was going to win.

“I was trying to come here to get a little bit of confidence, but wasn’t trying to win.”

Davies added: “This is probably the most important victory of my entire career. I was telling my friends, Lisa Hackney and Mardi Lunn, a few weeks ago that if this bad play keeps up, I am thinking about having some time off.

“Now all those thoughts are out the window. I am ready to play every tournament now. This is huge.”

Davies’s victory will help her climb from 58th to 22nd on the LPGA money list.