Davies rolls back years to lead European charge

Veteran of all 12 Solheim Cups lays solid foundation but Americans fight back

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The Independent Online

By her own confession, nobody loves beating the Americans more than Laura Davies, which is probably apt because, as of yesterday, nobody has beaten the Americans more than Laura Davies.

The evergreen 47-year-old yesterday displaced Annika Sorenstam as the leading points scorer in Solheim Cup history. Britain's greatest ever female golfer could be on the brink of one of her more memorable Sunday evenings – but label this Davies's swansong at your peril. She isn't finished yet and a fourth European victory would only increase her conviction to continue.

But the likelihood of a first blue-and-gold celebration party since 2003 is much less likely than it was after a rousing US fightback in the afternoon. Trailing 7-5 going into the fourballs, Rosie Jones's side shrugged off the crushing win of Davies and Melissa Reid in the opening game to win the next three and so level the scoreline at 8-8. The momentum is with the visitors and, back home, they will be mighty glad of it.

Only once before has the starred and striped flag threatened to hang so forlornly. But then, only once before have three of golf's major team trophies resided on this side of the pond. Despite the fourballs, Alison Nicholas's girls still have the chance to re-create the dream of 2003.

Their challenge today is to emulate the amateur males of Great Britain and Ireland in the Walker Cup and the professional males in the Ryder Cup. It would then be left the amateur females of Great Britain and Ireland at Nairn next June to leave the America team trophy cabinet bare for the very first time.

But it is wise not to get ahead of oneself, as those great individualists of the US are renowned for being stronger in the singles. Yet purely on the evidence displayed so far at Killeen Castle, Europe are eminently capable of regaining the trophy. Their parity is, at the very least, fully deserved.

As, of course, is Davies's newly acquired status. She and Reid beat Michelle Wie and Brittany Lang 4 & 3, with a better-ball score of eight-under for 15 holes. It was Reid's first point in the Solheim and for Davies the personal haul now stands at 241/2. The fun-loving veteran was typicallylaid-back and self-deprecating when told about her new mantle. "That's probably because I'm the oldest and have played the most matches," said the four-time major winner. "But, yeah, it's a nice record to have."

In truth, Davies monopolises the Solheim record sheet. She made her debut in the inaugural staging way back in 1990 and is the only player, from either side, to have appeared in all 12 matches. In this time, Davies has retained her competitiveness, proven by her answer when asked if she was glad, at her age, to have been "rested" by Nicholas in both morning sessions. "No," she said. "I want to play every match. I don't care about feeling fresh going into the singles. I would rather be tired having played every session. But if you look at the score you can't argue with Alison's tactics."