Davies focuses on putting, scores 5 LET wins

Laura Davies

Laura Davies

Our annual number-crunching package looks at players who made significant moves – up or down – during the past year in the Golfweek/Sagarin Performance Index.

Ranking/movement: 65 (+48)

Why the rise? Success and better putting in overseas events, not more range time.

Davies never has worked with a swing coach because, as she says, she doesn’t take orders well.

Similarly, she never has worked with a sports psychologist.

Number crunching

Check back to Golfweek.com every day through the end of the year to take a look at players who made significant moves – up and down – in 2010.

“They really are parasites,” she said with a laugh.

Davies’ best self-advice? Think positive. She says that’s how she has been able to win five times on the Ladies European Tour this season, and, finish second on the LET Order of Merit. It has been well-documented that her improvement wasn’t because of excessive practice.

Davies, 47, played in 17 events on the LET compared with the 25 played by Lee Anne Pace, the South African woman leading the money race. The Englishwoman began the year with a victory in New Zealand, then earned her fifth in November via a four-way playoff in India. Davies eagled the 18th to get into the playoff, then hit her second shot to 12 feet on the same hole and two-putted for the win.

Her LPGA results, however, haven’t been nearly as inspiring with only two top 10s in 15 starts.

Davies says: “In Europe, I putted really well, but not in America. I can’t work it out.”

– Beth Ann Baldry

• • •

Reilley Rankin

Ranking/movement: 241 (-126)

Why the fall? Reilley Rankin has an incredibly strong mind. No one battles back from a near-paralyzing back injury to play professional golf without extraordinary will.

Yet, confidence is exactly what has held Rankin back the last several years, and she considers the mental hurdle she now faces even tougher than the physical one she faced as a University of Georgia standout after jumping off a rock into an Alabama lake.

“I never understood why people thought I’d overcome anything,” said Rankin of her extensive injuries. “Who is going to throw the towel in?”

Rankin made only three cuts in 13 starts this year, earning a paltry $12,956. After being in the top 70 on the money list her first four seasons, including a career-best 34th in 2007, she has placed 91st, 100th and 139th the past three years. Forced to go back to LPGA Q-School earlier this month, Rankin tied for fourth to earn Priority List Category 11 status (eligible for entry into full-field events – 144 players – based on player tournament commitments).

Rankin, who ranked 118th in both scoring average and greens in regulation and 110th in putting average, realizes she can’t improve without trusting herself, and she’s leaning on instructor Gary Gilchrist for help. Though ultimately, she and Gilchrist know it must come from within.

“Nothing will change with her swing,” said Gilchrist, who points to over-thinking as Rankin’s biggest problem. “She has what she needs.”

Rankin says: “I’ve made a decision with golf just to be patient. I know I’ll be better for it. I don’t feel like I’ve even scratched the surface of my potential.”

– Beth Ann Baldry

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