Key result rejuvenates Davies' confidence

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The Independent Online

Laura Davies has described her win at the Rochester International in New York on Sunday night as "probably the most important victory of my entire career".

With a switch to graphite shafts, Davies pulled out of the worst slump she has yet endured and coasted to victory. The 38-year-old survived a final-round two-over-par 74 to claim her 20th career LPGA Tour title and the first since May last year at the Los Angeles Women's Championship.

After a poor season which has seen the former world No 1 miss the cut in five of her previous seven tournaments, Davies bogeyed two of her final three holes but, having led by five shots going into the final day, was far enough ahead to hold on for a three-shot victory.

First prize in the $1m tournament was worth $150,000 (£110,000), tripling her winnings this year to $221,318. She took the 10th spot from Nancy Lopez on the career money list with £5.4m.

"I'm shocked because I genuinely didn't think I was going to win," Davies said. "I was trying to come here to get a little bit of confidence, but I wasn't trying to win. I was scared I was going to make a mug of myself. I didn't want to be in the spotlight and start playing badly because it would be embarrassing really.

"I was playing poorly for a long time, so I got down on myself. I was telling my friends, Lisa Hackney and Mardi Lunn, a few weeks ago that, if this bad play keeps up, I'm thinking about having some time off. Now all those thoughts are out the window. I'm ready to play every tournament now. This is huge."

Davies' victory moved her within three points of qualifying for the LPGA Tour Hall of Fame, and the four-time major winner can qualify in two weeks with a victory at the McDonald's LPGA Championship. "It would be a dream come true to win McDonald's and get into the Hall of Fame," she said. "Especially since it's probably my favourite course all year along with Mission Hills.

"This is my 61st or 62nd win worldwide ­ 70 or 75 wins would be nice, so I guess I need 14 more. The Hall of Fame is within striking distance now, so it'll probably be in the back of my mind a little bit more."

Following earlier scores of 68, 68 and 69, Davies finished on nine-under-par 279. Wendy Ward did her best to close the gap with a five-under-par 67 but eventually had to settle for joint-second place alongside Sweden's Maria Hjorth, who closed with a 72.

The American Brandie Burton was alone in fourth place after a 73 saw her slip back to five under. Scotland's Mhairi McKay was among a group of five women to tie for fifth after a 71 pushed her up to four under.