Golf: Davies is snared by sandtraps

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The Independent Online


reports from Woburn

It was a day when sand was as welcome as the grit in the picnic sandwiches for Laura Davies. The globe's leading female golfer visited several of Woburn's bunkers yesterday on the way to a one over par 74, which left her seven shots off the pace following the opening round of the women's British Open.

Davies is renowned as one of the tour's cleverest escapees from sand but the constituency of the traps on the Duke's course does not suit her technique. Hers is a method that moves mountains and provokes the thought that a tipper truck of replacement material should be called. Yesterday such attempts would have been like striking an anvil.

"I'm normally a really good bunker player so it's a bit of a shock when you get in a bunker and you're trembling. Every time I go in I seem to see a bad shot."

These bad moments have shaken Davies and it seems the white flag is already being unfurled at the bottom of the pole. "I fear for my chances because I didn't actually play that badly today," she said. "I shot one over but recently I've been five and six under the way I played today. I don't think I can win round here."

If ever course and conditions are to conspire against Davies, the fates have arrived this week. The Woburn fairways are of such a texture that they should have a dotted white line down the middle, and this terrain means the Briton's length advantage is not so pronounced. Indeed, she used the driver just three times yesterday, as this course offers much forestry to capture her occasionally wayward efforts from the tee.

There was little wasteful about Liselotte Neumann's 67, which contained seven birdies. The defending champion has been absent with shoulder injuries and may need further treatment for slapping in that area if she continues in this form.

One stroke adrift are Marie Laure de Lorenzi, of France, and the Antipodean pair of Shani Waugh and Marnie McGuire, who was born in Auckland of Scottish parents. A little further back in the chase for the pounds 60,000 first prize, following a 71, is Nancy Lopez, on her first appearance in Britain for 14 years and her first ever in this tournament.

Lopez does not need the money, and neither, for that matter, does Davies. The winner of over $1m in prize money last season alone, Davies is becoming so rich she may soon qualify for a grant from Camelot National Lottery funds.

At least the Coventry-born woman believes in recycling it. The end of her round yesterday was not a cue for bunker practice, rather the analysis of traps of a different kind as she studied the form for the 3.44 at Wimbledon in Ladbrokes' punting wagon. That did not win either - but then greyhounds do run on sand, don't they?