Women’s Open 2014: Dame Laura Davies eyes repeat Royal Birkdale win aged 50

She is a beacon for middle-age ambition in a sport suddenly flush with teenage sluggers

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The Independent Online

She is the oldest player in the field contesting her 30th Ricoh British Women’s Open, yet you would have to walk the length of the Fylde coast to find a golfer with more enthusiasm than Dame Laura Davies.

At 50 Davies might be in a minority of one this week believing she is a contender for a championship she first claimed 28 years ago. And that is why she is still here, a beacon for middle-age ambition in a sport suddenly flush with teenage sluggers.

The same Royal Birkdale track was the scene of her 1986 triumph, the memories of which still inspire her. “I still feel 21. I have got a bad heel at the moment so I’m walking like a 50-year-old, or even a 60-year-old, but the enthusiasm is still there and in my mind I’m still good enough,” she said.

“If I could just hole some putts and sort that aspect of my game I would be in shape. I haven’t given up on the chances of winning here, that’s not to say I will, of course. I understand the pressure on these young girls to be out here practising every day but the longevity won’t  be there.”

Ranged against her is arguably the most talented group of young women the sport has seen, Britain’s Charley Hull, at 18, attempting to join fellow teenager, America’s Lexi Thompson, 19, as a Major champion.

Hull was seventh behind Thompson at the first major of the season, the Kraft Nabisco Championship. She won for the first time in Morocco, scored a top 10 at the Ladies European Tour’s flagship event last week, the ISPS Handa Championship, and just loves Birkdale.

“I played it as an amateur. I missed a four-foot putt on the last to qualify [for the Open] and I was about 14 then, so it’s good to be in it and not have to qualify this time. It’s my favourite links course because I think it’s a fair links. It’s a proper golf course.”