Aug 16, 2014; Pittsford, NY, USA; Laura Davies on the 6th tee during the third round of the Wegman
Dame Laura Davies set the pace with a magnificent opening round of 7-under par 66 in the Turkish Ladies Airlines Ladies Open at Carya Golf Club in Belek, Antalya, on Sunday morning although by afternoon Davies’ one-time Solheim Cup partner, Melissa Reid had edged ahead of her by one shot to take the overnight lead.
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With eight birdies and one bogey Davies, a four time major champion, finished two strokes clear of the current Ladies European Tour Order of Merit leader Gwladys Nocera, with Noora Tamminen and Rebecca Artis a stroke further behind on four under par.
Davies has had a slow start to the 2015 season, with her best finish being a 25th at the ISPS New Zealand Open, but like a number of her American counterparts she is now on a mission to qualify for the European Solheim Cup team and make a 13th appearance in the biennial contest that will be contested in Germany this September.
Currently 16th on the European team points list, from which the top four will qualify, the 79-time tournament champion feels that she needs at least two more wins to earn her place as she doesn’t expect to receive a pick from the European captain Carin Koch.
"“She’s not going to pick a 51-year-old is she, let’s face it,” said Davies. “I’m going to have to play my way in and the only way to play my way in is to get lots of points: 100 points plus. I’m trying, I’m always trying.”"
There are 60 Solheim Cup points on the table for a win at the Turkish Airlines Ladies Open, which would put Davies into fifth place, just outside the cut-off for automatic qualification. Carya Golf Club, a favorable layout for the longer hitter, is the ideal place for Davies to begin her assault on the rankings as she likes the course and used her powerful drives to her advantage on all but one hole.
Nocera was also pleased, especially as she is playing with an injured right ankle. The 14-time LET champion, who will turn 40 on Friday, had three birdies and an eagle on the back nine before playing the front nine in level par.
Reid’s bogey-free 65 was a career-low for her. Because Davies had an early tee time, Reid knew going into her round what she’d need to shoot in order to get out in front:
"I knew that there was a low score out there so I tried to keep in touch with [Davies] – Melissa Reid"
The Turkish Ladies Airlines Open Sunday-Wednesday schedule marks the beginning of an innovative Ladies European Tour marketing strategy designed to bring pro golf into a sector of the broadcast week that’s previously been something of a tournament wasteland. I welcome the schedule change and look forward to providing ongoing ProGolfNow coverage of this and future LET events on the new schedule.