Golf: Davies chases her historic five-timer

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The Independent Online
THEY are calling it a potential "five-peat", a phrase almost as unlovely as the Standard Register Ping, the name of the tournament on the LPGA Tour that Laura Davies will attempt to win for a record fifth time this week.

Davies became the first woman to win a professional tournament for four successive years when the former world No 1 beat Kelly Robbins in a play- off at Moon Valley, in Phoenix, last year. Only Walter Hagen and Gene Sarazen can match the feat from the men's game.

Should Davies achieve the historic victory, local Arizona charities fighting domestic violence and child abuse will benefit by $1m (pounds 625,000), while the 34-year-old Englishwoman will receive a $300,000 bonus on top of the first prize of $127,500.

It was almost 70 years ago that Hagen attempted to win the USPGA Championship, then a matchplay event, for a fifth time but lost by two holes in the quarter-finals to the eventual champion, Leo Diegel.

Sarazen never got the chance to win the Miami Open for a fifth time. From 1931 the tournament changed format and was not recognised on the schedule.

Davies, Britain's highest-earning sportswoman, has dominated the Moon Valley course, one of the longest on the woman's circuit, thanks to her big hitting. But after winning 24 times around the world from 1994 to '96, Davies has struggled with her putting over the last year and fallen behind Annika Sorenstam, Karrie Webb and Robbins on the world rankings.

She said recently: "Last year was frustrating and if I keep playing and putting the way I did last year for another two or three years, I'll be sorely tempted to find another occupation."

If missing the cut at last week's tournament in Tucson was not the best preparation, it might prove a good omen since Davies did exactly the same last year. On the other hand, should victory be delayed a week Davies may not mind. The Nabisco Dinah Shore is the one US major Davies has yet to win and the Mission Hills course is her favourite in America.