Davies’ fifth victory sets up Dubai showdown with Pace

Laura Davies and Lee-Anne Pace each have five victories this season on the Ladies European Tour -- one of them will win the Order of Merit.

Laura Davies and Lee-Anne Pace each have five victories this season on the Ladies European Tour -- one of them will win the Order of Merit.

GURGAON, India – It’s now clear what Laura Davies must do to steal the Ladies European Tour Order of Merit title from Lee-Anne Pace. The seven-time merit champion needs one more victory like Saturday’s, in the season finale next month in Dubai.

Davies survived a four-way playoff to win the Hero Honda Indian Open. The veteran Englishwoman made a two-putt birdie on the first extra hole – the par-5 18th – to trounce the challenge of Nontaya Srisawang of Thailand, Tandi Cuningham of South Africa and Louise Friberg of Sweden.

The 18th hole at DLF Golf & Country Club also proved pivotal for Davies in regulation; she snared an eagle 3 on the final hole to make the playoff.

“I love the 18th. It gave me life, it gave me money . . . and it gave me the title. I’ll remember this hole for a long, long time,’’ said Davies, who is now about €30,000 short of Pace on the LET money list.

“This means I have to win in Dubai to surpass Lee-Anne’s earnings,’’ Davies said.

If only it were that simple. Pace’s recent performance shows she won’t go quietly without a fight.

The South African, like Davies, has five victories this season after winning twice in October. She finished five shots back and tied for 15th on Saturday.

Thanks to the dramatic eagle, Davies shot 70 to tie Nontaya, Cuningham and Friberg at 3-under 213.

In their playoff, Davies reached the green in two. Nontaya was on the green for three and two-putted for par, while Cuningham and Friberg both saw their hopes sink in a watery grave.

Not that Nontaya was too distressed. She had been scheduled to travel to Spain next week to compete in LET Qualifying School. But her second-place finish in India ensured her a top-80 spot on the money list, eliminating the need for Q-School.

“It was so close and yet so far for me,” Nontaya said.

The four-year pro led until hole No. 15 but a bogey on No. 16 ended hopes for her first professional title.

Nicollet Sharmila, 19, was the leading Indian in the field, at T-23.

The €500,000 Omega Dubai Ladies Masters, Dec. 8-11 at the Emirates Golf Club, is the next and final event of the season.

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