LONDON (Reuters) - If anyone imagined Laura Davies was ready to reach out for her rocking chair and slippers they had better think again because the 51-year-old has her sights on playing in September’s Solheim Cup and the 2017 edition.
The former world number one was outside the top eight automatic qualifiers for the biennial team event going into this week’s European Masters at the Buckinghamshire Golf Club on the outskirts of London but there is no doubting the British veteran’s intentions.
“I think I‘m good enough to be among the top 12 players in Europe but it’s all about results and the results aren’t good enough at the moment,” Davies told Reuters in an interview.
“I‘m 10th on the points list and I need to be fourth. I‘m thinking down the road for the next Solheim Cup as well, I‘m not giving up on that at all.”
The automatic qualifiers will come from the top four in the Solheim Cup points table and the leading four in the world rankings while Swedish captain Carin Koch also has four wildcard selections up her sleeve.
Davies is already the oldest competitor to feature for Europe in the women’s equivalent of the Ryder Cup, having been 47 when she played in the winning side of 2011.
If she can make the team that will go for an historic third straight victory at St Leon Rot in Germany this year, the Englishwoman will surpass Koch’s captaincy counterpart Juli Inkster who was 51 years and two months when she represented the U.S. in 2011.
“I don’t mind those sort of records because the fact I‘m still being considered means I can still play,” said Davies who turns 52 in October.
The modern-day achievements of fellow golden oldies Tom Watson and Colin Montgomerie are extra motivating factors for the player who has amassed 80 tournament victories in a glittering career.
”Look at Monty,“ said Davies, ”he was doing really well at the U.S. Open the other week. I know he fell away but it doesn’t matter how old you are if you can still play.
“The biggest one ever was Tom Watson at the age of 59 at Turnberry,” she said, referring to the American’s playoff defeat by his compatriot Stewart Cink in the 2009 British Open.
“I‘m 51 and I‘m playing at Turnberry this year,” added Davies of this month’s Women’s British Open.
First, though, she needs to iron out some glaring deficiencies in her game.
“I‘m playing well, I‘m hitting it good but not putting well enough and not chipping well enough,” said Davies who shot a 71 to lie five strokes off the first-round lead held by Frenchwoman Sophie Giquel-Bettan at the Buckinghamshire on Thursday.
”I think my game tee to green is as good as it was in 1996 when I was at my very best. The ball-striking is almost as good but the short game is not even close.
“I used to miss a green and it was an automatic up and down, it’s maybe one out of 10 now whereas before it was nine out of 10,” explained Davies who is without a Ladies European Tour victory since she reeled off five tournament wins in 2010.
“It’s hugely frustrating. All I can do is keep practicing, I don’t go to the range much these days... I just go to the golf course and practise chipping and putting.”
Davies would be an automatic choice as a future Solheim Cup captain but has never shown any sign of being a contender for that role and, to borrow a memorable quote from former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, “the lady’s not for turning”.
“I still want to play in it,” she said. “Maybe when I absolutely think I have no chance of playing in it my view might change but I doubt it because it just doesn’t interest me.”
Editing by Ken Ferris