DUBLIN, IRELAND (24th June 2009) — Golfing legend Laura Davies will be on a mission to equal Sophie Gustafson’s record of three Ladies Irish Open titles and claim the top prize of €75,000 when she tees up in the AIB Ladies Irish Open, supported by Failte Ireland, on Friday.
Davies won the event in 1994 and 1995 at St Margaret’s, while Gustafson won in 1998 at Ballyliffin, in 2000 at Faithlegg and at Killarney Golf and Fishing Club, otherwise known as Mahoney’ Point, in 2003.
After arriving in beautiful fine weather at Portmarnock Hotel and Links on Wednesday morning, Davies was relishing the opportunity to compete for a third Irish Open trophy and her second title of the season after her stunning victory at the Women’s Australian Open four months ago.
"I haven’t seen the course yet but I like links golf and I just need to get a bit of confidence back," said Davies. "I’ve lost my confidence since playing so badly in America. Having said that, the last European Tour event I played, I won, so hopefully the good side will come out."
"I love links golf. We don’t get to play much; only the British Open, and that’s not every time. It’s just lovely to play links and if we played more I’d like it. Obviously I will be trying my hardest to win."
Davies will tee up at alongside France’s Jade Schaeffer and 14-year-old Irish amateur Leona Maguire at 8.45am in the first round on Friday and at 12.45pm on Saturday afternoon.
She has been keeping track of the progress of Leona and her identical twin sister Lisa, who will also compete, alongside Sweden’s Maria Hjorth and Frenchwoman Anne-Lise Caudal, at 1.05pm on Friday.
"They are the talk of the town, aren’t they?" said Davies of the teenage twin sisters. "They are obviously very good, only 14 years old and apparently fantastic golfers."
She even suggested that they stood a chance of winning, following compatriot Shane Lowry’s example at The 3 Irish Open last month, when he won the European Tour title as an amateur.
"I can only assume they are that good. Why couldn’t they win it? If they know the course and have a good week with the putter, you never know," she said.
This year’s AIB Ladies Irish Open is an exciting prospect for golf enthusiasts as with The Solheim Cup just two months away, Europe’s finest will be out to impress at the €500,000 event, which is now the fourth equal richest on the Ladies European Tour.
Gustafson has flown over from America in an attempt to claim the title for a fourth time, while Hjorth has brought her four month old daughter Emily across from Florida.
All of the top 40 players on the Ladies European Tour’s Henderson Money List are in attendance including last year’s runner up Marianne Skarpnord from Norway.
Of the top five players on the list, four have been first time champions this year, namely Skarpnord, Schaeffer, Spaniard Tania Elosegui and Sweden’s Johanna Westerberg. Only Melissa Reid of England, placed third on the money list, still awaits her maiden victory, after a trio of top three finishes from four starts on tour this year.