THE MODERATOR: Morning, again, ladies and gentlemen, we have Laura Davies, who’s making her 30th consecutive start in the Women’s Open this week. She’s actually played all four times it’s been here at Royal Birkdale, including obviously her victory in 1986. Do you have any abiding memories of that victory?
LAURA DAVIES: Well, I’ve got plenty of pictures. It was the candlesticks in those days that the champion got, and there is a picture of me in front of the clubhouse on my bedroom wall at home, so I see it pretty regularly. Good memories that.
Q. This is a course you obviously know very well. What makes this such a great test of golf?
LAURA DAVIES: There’s not a bad hole out there for a kickoff, and there’s not an easy shot. You can get into trouble pretty much if you’re playing good golf you can get a really good score. But if you’re slightly off, the bunkers are there, pretty severe rough, the gorse, so there’s plenty to keep you occupied for every single swing, so I think that’s why it’s obviously such a great championship.
Q. You’ve won twice this year already. How do you feel you’re playing coming into this event?
LAURA DAVIES: Yeah, I was disappointed last week at Evian because I have been playing pretty well. That was a bit of a shock, that first round, but came back well with a second round of 68, so I still feel like I’m playing really well.
Q. You’re not a big fan of practice, so what would your preparations have entailed today and yesterday?
LAURA DAVIES: Well, we played the Pro Am but practiced a couple of hours before, because we’ve got to hit slightly different shots because it’s going to be windy. We’ll be dropping a lot of shots in short. So I had to practice on that.
And then this afternoon practice, I’m not going on the course again but just a couple of hours of practice, obviously putting is very important, so do some of that, and got to get up early tomorrow morning. We’re off at 7:00, so it’ll be a nice early start.
Q. What time will you be here tomorrow morning?
LAURA DAVIES: I’ll be here about 6:00 getting ready. It’s always an hour before tee time and just warm up and chip and putt.
Q. This is 26 in a row, so what’s your view as you’ve seen Michelle come into the game at a young age and obviously Alexis not playing this week? Do you think women are coming in too young, or what’s your view on an Alexis not having a place? Is that a good thing, bad thing?
LAURA DAVIES: She’s one of the better golfers in the world now, so it would be nice if she had been here. I really don’t know why she’s not. She’s young, but sometimes when you’re playing really well as young as she is, why not give it a go? I don’t really have a personal opinion. I’m sure her parents have got it all in hand. If she wants to play, she should be allowed to play.
Q. Are you in favour of the age limit on the LPGA Tour as it stands at the moment?
LAURA DAVIES: To be honest, I have no opinion on it because if you’re good enough, for me you’re good enough. That’s just the way it is. In tennis and other sports, just the fact that you’re so young is probably a little bit of a bonus because it creates so much excitement for the Tour. So personally let her come and play. But I’m sure there’s a lot of people that disagree with that. You have to assume that the people around her are doing the right thing.
Q. You said it’s good for the Tour, but how good is it for her personally if she’s not at school and mixing with people a lot older than her and missing out on company of her own age?
LAURA DAVIES: Well, Tour life is weird anyway, so whether she turns pro now or well, she is pro, but whether she plays regularly now or in four years’ time you’re still sort of in a little circus travelling around the world, so it’s not normal. So the fact that it’s not normal at 15 or 14 or whatever she is, it’s hers and her parents’ decision.
If you’re good enough, that’s all I can say, what a waste not to have her maybe she can win the British Open at 15 if she was here this week. How good would that be? She nearly won last week, and if you’re playing well, you’re playing well. I don’t think links golf would faze her at all.
Q. What were you, 22, 23 or something?
LAURA DAVIES: I turned pro when I was 21.
Q. I was going to ask you how your preparation has changed in all these years out here? What do you do differently when you’re preparing for a round? What have you learnt?
LAURA DAVIES: Nothing, just the same, an hour before tee time and no practise rounds because they’re so boring and slow, and play the Pro Am every week, have fun with your amateurs. That’s my buildup to any golf tournament. Whether it’s the Thailand Open or the U.S. Open, it’s always the same.
Q. How long ago did you dispense with the practice round?
LAURA DAVIES: Well, this is my 26th year, so 25 and a half years ago.
Watching people chip and putt from every angle on a green for four or five or six hours in a day is not my idea of fun. Never has been, never will be.
Q. You obviously have done it at some point. There must have been a practice round that suddenly flipped you over the edge and you thought, I’ll never do this again.
LAURA DAVIES: It’s so long ago, I really don’t remember. I just know that people chip from 30 spots around one green. I don’t understand it. Never have done.
Q. Would you ban them or what would you do about it?
LAURA DAVIES: Yeah, if you want to go and have a practice round, play a round of golf with your mates, have a little bet, and walk off of every green when you’ve holed out on the green. There’s no need to on the practice.
Q. Catriona says she’s hardly had any sponsorships, in fact no sponsorship except for a two week deal, last week and this week, since she’s won. How much did you get when you won in 1986 and are you surprised she’s not had more?
LAURA DAVIES: Well, I am, especially the way the sport is at the moment. There are obviously economic problems, but there’s a lot of good things happening in the game, so I’m very surprised. She’s such a nice girl, as well. She’d be a good representative for any sponsor.
When I won the U.S. Open is when it really started for me. I got a sponsor straightaway. I was very lucky, Weetabix almost immediately became my sponsor. At the time that was a very good deal.
Q. Do you think Catriona might have to win a major in the U.S. to really cash in?
LAURA DAVIES: I don’t know. I mean, winning the British Open as a British golfer and in front of the world stage, all the cameras from around the world, I didn’t even know that. But I’m very surprised.
I think winning another major would be obviously great, but whether it would make a difference, if this one didn’t work, I really don’t know.
Q. Were you surprised Catriona didn’t get in the Top 10 of the British sports personalities when they did the short list of 10? Did you find that surprising?
LAURA DAVIES: Not really. We’ve never done well in are you talking about the BBC Sports Review?
LAURA DAVIES: Yeah, the year I won two majors, ten other tournaments, I didn’t even finish in the top three. I think Damon Hill won it that year, 1996, and everyone said I had a good chance of winning it. I didn’t even get mentioned in the programme I don’t think. I think women’s golf to the BBC Review of the Year just doesn’t really figure.
Q. Is that a bit insulting? She was on the BBC and it was such a big stir, the whole super mum thing?
LAURA DAVIES: I think it’s a disgrace myself. I voted for her. I think she should have won it. I’ve forgotten who actually won it.
Q. Ryan Giggs.
LAURA DAVIES: Well, he’s obviously magnificent, but I think Catriona for just that one off in that given year, he should have probably won on the whole career, so it should have been maybe a different prize. But it’s the BBC Sports Review of the Year, so maybe they should review it.
Q. Does it annoy you that she doesn’t get the recognition she deserves as sort of a Brit winning the home Open?
LAURA DAVIES: Yeah, I mean, if one of the boys wins it, they’d be knighted overnight. It’s always been the same. It doesn’t worry me, I have to say, and I’m sure it really doesn’t worry Catriona. But it’s just the sort of thing, it would be a nice little bonus at the end of the year.
Q. But the money must worry her because you think you’ve hit the jackpot when you win your home Open.
LAURA DAVIES: I don’t think anyone really thinks like that to be honest with you. I’ve never won a tournament and thought, oh, brilliant, now I’m going to get loads of sponsors. You’re so excited you’ve won the tournament and then a couple weeks later the phone starts ringing and you’ve got a thing to do here and a thing to do there.
But I don’t think she would have actually thought, oh, floodgates are open kind of thing, because that doesn’t really happen, especially for British sportswomen.
Q. What are your thoughts on pace of play, and do you have any suggestions for speeding things up?
LAURA DAVIES: No, I’ve made my suggestions over the years. Paint ball when they play slow, have a spot of paint ball on your jersey. You’re never going to stop it because the slow ones don’t think they’re slow, and when the referees get out there, they speed up. So you’ll never stop it.
Q. We have lots of world class British players in the men’s game at the moment but we don’t seem to be able to produce them in the ladies game. Any ideas why that might be?
LAURA DAVIES: Because they don’t get sponsorship probably. I mean, who knows. You’ve got Melissa Reid who’s playing fantastic, and obviously Catriona last year. There are a lot of good young British players just on the fringe of it. I think Melissa is going to be a really top world class player in the next four or five years because she’s got the game, she’s got the attitude, very confident, so that might be the one. And hopefully when she starts breaking through, her friends who she’s grown up through the amateur’s ranks with, that’s what happens. They realise that, oh, I used to beat you and now you’re doing so well. So maybe we’ll see something coming off the back of Melissa’s good strong play.
Q. Seems like the amateur authorities in the men’s game are doing a very good job of bringing the players through. Do you think the amateur bodies in the ladies’ game are doing similarly good job?
LAURA DAVIES: I’m sure they are doing a good job, but we went quite a long time without having that many top young British male players, so perhaps the next generation of young good girls is coming through. Sometimes you just get a decade where you don’t get huge amounts of those great players. It’s just it goes in waves, I think.
Q. And is the wave of talent coming through as continental Europe as strong as has been in recent times?
LAURA DAVIES: Yeah, I think recently. In America there’s quite a few Spanish girls on the Tour that are playing very well, good ball strikers. And not quite so many young Swedes. The Swedes seem to have dropped off a bit. Like I said, I think sometimes you just get lucky and you get a dose of talent in one age group.
Q. Do you think it all bodes well for the Solheim Cup?
LAURA DAVIES: Yeah, I mean, the Solheim Cup is obviously very difficult because we seem to do so well in the foursomes and fourballs, but we struggle in the singles. That’s what we have to we have to believe as players, and the younger players are going to have to learn that very quickly, that the singles is what it’s all about, and we have to turn the corner with that.
Hopefully we’ll have enough players in the next one in Ireland and after that that believe they can beat the Americans, but they have to learn it early.
Q. Do you ever get fed up with the game? You say no practice rounds in 26 years and slow play. Do you ever get fed up?
LAURA DAVIES: No, not really. You don’t like walking off last Thursday with an 81 like I did in Evian. That’s pretty miserable, and missing the cut and flying home Saturday morning, that’s miserable.
But here we are at Birkdale ready and can’t wait for tomorrow morning. There’s always something to look forward to. You’re only as good as your next week. You’ve always got to forget about the rest of it. As long as you still want to win, there’s nothing in the game to get fed up about, really. There are annoyances, like you said, practise rounds and stuff like that.
Q. How long do you think you’re going to go on?
LAURA DAVIES: I’m here trying to win this week. If I turn up and actually don’t think I can win, then there’s no real point being here. But at the moment, yeah, I’ve won a couple this year and I probably should have won two more. There’s still lots to play for.
Q. So we’re all be here 26 years from now talking to you?
LAURA DAVIES: What was Tom Watson, 59 last year or whatever, so I’m not comparing myself to Tom Watson, but if he can still be playing that well against the class of players he was playing against last year, you never know.
Q. What do the Koreans make of you? They must think it’s very strange that you don’t stand out there for hours at a time.
LAURA DAVIES: Well, I think they’re very strange that they do stand out there for hours at the time, so we’ve got a mutual contempt, I suppose. If it’s what they want to do, it’s what they want to do, and they’re brilliant because of it. But I would have packed up ten years ago if I would have had that. And maybe that’s why you don’t see some older Koreans on the Tour, because they practice so hard for so long when they’re very, very young, I think by the time you’ve been out here 10, 12 years you’ve maybe had enough of it, and maybe that’s why I haven’t had enough of it.
Q. How would you assess the current strength of the Ladies European Tour?
LAURA DAVIES: Very good, yeah. The last sort of two, three years it’s grown and grown. I think if the economics hadn’t been the way they were like for all industries, we’d have had even more tournaments. But there’s loads of tournaments to play in and strong sponsors that seem to want to sign long term deals, so I think things are looking very good over here. And the standard of play has risen to match that so the sponsors are getting good value for money, which is very important to them.
Q. How close is the standard over here to the LPGA Tour week in and week out?
LAURA DAVIES: Well, it’s not the same obviously, because the top sort of 20 over here, top 30, you could probably pick the winner I think most weeks. Whereas in America, pretty much there are a lot of different winners in America, and it’s just strength and depth. The actual standard of golf probably not that much different, but it’s the strength and depth that’s the biggest difference.
Q. What could they learn from the LPGA Tour?
LAURA DAVIES: I don’t know really. I think they’re both very different products really. I mean, in America we go from state to state, whereas in Europe we go from country to country, so different cultures all the time. I think they’re completely different tours. They feel different when you’re playing them anyway.
The American Tour is I don’t want to say much more business like, but it’s a lot friendlier atmosphere in Europe. That’s just the nice difference between the two tours.
Q. Is there any reason why players that are successful over here can’t now go over to America and do well very quickly?
LAURA DAVIES: I think it’s just belief. You’ve got to believe you belong and you’ve go to believe that you can beat these players because you do see them week in and week out churning out rounds in the 60s constantly in America, and sometimes that’s a bit daunting, and I think good players over here have to realise that it’s just a golf course. And you’ve got 144 different competitors over here, but it’s just a golf course, and if you’re playing well over here, you should be able to play well over there.
Q. Does it remain a natural progression to do well on this Tour first and then weave across to America?
LAURA DAVIES: I think most people if they want to be regarded as truly world class players, then I think ultimately you have to do well in America or on the LPGA Tour. The LPGA travels all over the world now; we spend a lot of time in Asia. But I think if you want true world recognition for the way you play, you have to do it there, as well.
Q. Presumably it would help our Solheim Cup players?
LAURA DAVIES: Oh, definitely. You see it every time. There are exceptions like when Gwladys beat Cristie Kerr a few years back where a European Tour player took out one of the really tough Americans, but it’s hard when you stand on the tee with these people in a Solheim Cup singles match. That’s why I said early, you’ve got to be ready early to take these people on.
But over a period of time, we will get stronger. We will get more belief in it.
Q. Presumably we’ll know that when we start doing better in the singles.
LAURA DAVIES: Absolutely. That’s the true test. You can win the foursomes and the fourballs, and we’ve won probably statistically we’re miles ahead, but until we truly believe we can beat them head to head on Sunday, we’re always going to struggle. But we’re getting closer.