DUNSANY, Ireland – Laura Davies walked to the 10th tee and began her ritual of digging up turf.
“Watch this! Watch this!” a schoolgirl urged her older brother. Once she’d built the perfect pyramid of sod, Davies topped it off with a neon-yellow Srixon and tossed her wedge back to her caddie.
“That’s brilliant,” the young girl’s brother replied. Davies had yet to even take a swipe at the ball.
Characters as quirky and original as Davies, 47, are rare in professional sports. On Saturday, her longevity was celebrated when she surpassed Annika Sorenstam as the leading points earner in Solheim Cup history, with 24 1/2 points. Davies, of England, has appeared in every Cup since its inception in 1990.
Appropriately, Davies partnered with England’s next big thing, a flat-bellied Melissa Reid, to kick off afternoon four-balls against Americans Michelle Wie and Brittany Lang.
With a 4-up lead at the par-5 15th at Killeen Castle, Davies pounded her driver off the deck from 210 to the front of the green. She nearly found the hole from 84 feet, and the conceded birdie putt closed the match, 4 and 3.
Davies didn’t know she had a chance to break Sorenstam’s record until someone told her earlier in the week.
“It’s nice to finally get past Annika, who obviously has a spectacular record, and it’s nice to have done it before the singles,” Davies said. “Now I can go out there and not worry about ‘Oh, I want to beat the record because I might never be here again.’ ”
Davies thought she and Reid would pair together in the opening foursomes. Instead, Reid teamed with Karen Stupples.
“For some reason, Ali (Nicholas) doesn’t trust me in foursomes,” Davies said. “I don’t know why, because my record in foursomes is really good.”
Davies’ overall foursomes record (8-6-1) is nearly identical to her four-ball record (8-6-3).
She conceded that judging by the scoreboard, Nicholas made the right decision. But that doesn’t mean Davies has to like it. She went from being a mainstay for Europe to playing only three out of eight doubles matches in the past two Cups.
“It’s a dramatic decline in actual playing to watching,” Davies said. “All it shows is you’re not as good as you use to be.”
When asked if she used the bench as motivation, Davies said: “No. It annoys me because I still think I’m good enough.”
That’s precisely why five minutes with Davies and a tape recorder amounts to gold out here, a refreshing change from an over-abundance of political correctness.
If every player on the LPGA learned at least one thing from Davies, it would guarantee more fans: play fast. When Davies and Reid finished on the 15th, Davies glanced up at the scoreboard to see that the second match was only on No. 12.
“Bloody hell; miles behind us,” she muttered as she waited for TV interviews.
Count Reid among the young players who got their start in the game because of Davies.
“She hates me saying it, but Laura is the reason I started playing golf,” said Reid, who earned her first Solheim point this afternoon. “She was my first golf hero.”
Davies credited Reid for helping her on the greens. She also went to her storage shed before coming to Ireland and pulled out a Maruman putter that she used from 1994 to ’96. Davies estimates she won about 24 tournaments with it.
As for the pyramid, she has eschewed a tee since 1990.
“The long story is, I couldn’t hit my ball for love nor money off a tee,” Davies said. Her brother noticed how well she hit driver off the deck on par 5s and suggested she try the same off the tee. The first time she tried it, in Las Vegas, she topped it off the 10th hole. Eventually, she created her own tee out of turf and never looked back.
From her garish yellow ball to her ever-present vest, Davies generates interest whether she’s making five birdies in Saturday foursomes – like she did today – or sulking around when her game goes south. Davies has done things her way since she turned pro in 1985.
In an effort to set up a match for the ages, Davies told American Juli Inkster to tell her captain to put her off fourth in the singles lineup. The two veterans never have met in Solheim singles.
Davies’ wish came true: They square off at 10:40 a.m. And, if it’s the last time either plays in a Solheim Cup, there really is no better way this story could end.