SOUTHPORT, England – Everyone who turns professional should be given a videotape of a Laura Davies press conference. Maybe then we wouldn’t complain about players being robotic clones of each other.
Press conferences can often be completely forgettable. I’ve come out of press conferences where a player has spoken for 25 minutes and said absolutely nothing. Many seem to learn the art of public speaking from tour administrators – talk a lot but say nothing.
When Davies talks it pays to listen. If ever there was a professional golfer who truly says what’s on her mind then it’s the woman from Coventry, England.
Davies turned professional in 1984 when she was 21. For the past 26 years she has been telling it like it is.
If I had my way, I’d make Davies CEO in charge of slow play. The 47-year-old has ranted about pace of play for years but to no avail. She’s got a no-nonsense approach to the cancer that plights the game. She’d mark out the snails – literally.
“A paint ball when they play slow – have a spot of paint on your jersey,” is her solution.
Pace of play is so slow on the LPGA and LET – on all professional tours, actually – that Davies hasn’t played a practice round before a tournament since her first year as a professional, for any tournament.
“No practice rounds because they’re so boring and slow,” Davies said. “I play the pro-am every week, and have fun with the amateurs. That’s my build-up to any golf tournament whether it’s the Thailand Open or the U.S. Open, it’s always the same.”
When asked when she developed this unique approach, she said. “Well this is my 26th year, so 25 and a half years ago! Watching people chip and putt from every angle on a green for four or five or six hours in a day is not my idea of fun. Never has been, never will be.
“If you want to go and have a practice round, play a round of golf with your mates, have a little bet and walk off of every green when you’ve holed out. There’s no need to go on and practice.”
A woman after my own heart.
Davies was just as forthright on the subject of Alexis Thompson. The 15-year-old is not allowed to play on the LPGA until she is 18, although she can accept sponsors’ invitations and can qualify for events such as this week’s Ricoh Women’s British Open, which she chose not to do.
Davies thinks Thompson should be allowed to play on the LPGA.
“If you’re good enough, for me you’re good enough,” Davies said. “Just the fact that she’s so young is probably a little bit of a bonus because it creates so much excitement for the tour. So, personally, let her come and play.
“What a waste not to have her. Maybe she can win the British Open at 15 if she was here this week. How good would that be?”
Catriona Matthew’s victory here last year turned out to be one of the stories of the year. She won her first major 11 weeks after giving birth. Yet the Scottish player got little recognition outside golfing circles.
She did not even feature in the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year award, an achievement voted on by the public. Soccer player Ryan Giggs won last year. Matthew didn’t even come in the top 10.
“I think it’s a disgrace,” Davies said with typical candour. “I voted for her. I think she should have won it.”
Davies is one major or two more tournaments wins short of gaining entry into the World Golf Hall of Fame. I’d induct her for her refreshing honesty alone.