BEST OF BOTH WORLDS BY WINNING HER SECOND MAJOR OF THE SEASON, LAURA DAVIES PROVED SHE'S NO. 1 IN THE U.S. AS WELL AS IN EUROPE

August 11, 1996

Because she wants to be recognized as the best golfer in the
world--and most knowledgeable observers say she already
is--Laura Davies puts equal emphasis on the LPGA tour and the
European tour. Already this year she has made at least a
half-dozen transatlantic trips from her home in Great Britain to
North America. "It's no big deal," she insisted upon arriving in
Edmonton for last week's du Maurier Classic, the fourth and
final major championship of the LPGA season. "You just get on
with it. You can sit on a plane, or sit in a chair and watch TV.
You do what it takes. I've been competitive and high on the
money list on both tours, so I'll continue to compete on both
tours."

Compete? How about dominate? Although she hadn't played in an
LPGA event in seven weeks, didn't arrive in Edmonton until
Tuesday and had only one practice round over the 6,324-yard
course at venerable Edmonton Country Club, the intimidatingly
long Davies reeled off rounds of 71-70-70-66 for an 11-under-par
277. That gave her a two-shot victory over Karrie Webb, the
21-year-old phenom, and Webb's childhood idol, 39-year-old Nancy
Lopez, who found rejuvenation in Alberta's pristine air.

Davies, 32, has won 45 times worldwide, including 13 times on
the U.S. tour. Earlier this year she won the Standard Register
Ping in Phoenix and a major, the LPGA McDonald's Championship,
in Wilmington, Del., plus the Japan LPGA's Hiroshima Open and
the European tour's Evian Masters in France. While the du
Maurier was her second major victory of the year--and the fourth
of her career--it was infinitely more satisfying than her
triumph in May in the soggy LPGA Championship. That event was
beset by such severe weather that it was called after 54 holes,
the first time the LPGA had curtailed a major short of the
standard four rounds.

New commissioner Jim Ritts caught a ton of heat for that
decision so, his equanimity notwithstanding, he suffered from a
near-terminal case of deja vu last Saturday when for the eighth
time in 10 weeks, bad weather interrupted a tournament. "This is
the drought-busting year of the LPGA," said Ritts, who no doubt
was aware that cynics were calling his organization the Thunder
and Lightning Tour. Last week's rain was so severe that earnest
volunteers, eager for Edmonton to get the sort of positive
attention that it has lacked since Wayne Gretzky left town, felt
compelled to apologize. But, as was the case in Wilmington, it
didn't seem to bother the veteran Davies, who grew up in the
stuff.

The same could not be said for Webb, an Australian who could
become the first golfer since Lopez in 1978 to be the LPGA
Player of the Year as well as Rookie of the Year. After winning
last year's British Open, Webb finished second, first and second
this year in her first three LPGA tournaments, a start that
propelled her to the top of the LPGA money list heading into the
du Maurier (she's now in second, some $28,000 behind Davies).
However, many onlookers wondered if she would hold up for the
whole season. The first sign of trouble came in mid-May at the
Hiroshima Open when Webb and Todd Haller, her caddie/fiance,
broke off their relationship. The following week in Corning,
N.Y., she finished 75th, her worst showing of the year. Webb,
who in one stretch had had a string of six finishes no worse
than seventh, seemed to lose momentum. After Corning, she missed
her first cut, at the ShopRite Classic, and didn't crack the top
10 again until a week before the du Maurier. The turnaround came
at the Heartland Classic in St. Louis, where Webb tied for
sixth, and continued in Edmonton. With Evan Minster, a veteran
tour caddie, on her bag, Webb ran out to an early lead with a
course-record 65 that included a 30 on the outgoing nine, and
followed with a 68 on Friday that put her at 11 under at the
halfway point, four shots ahead of her closest pursuer, Meg
Mallon.

But then came the rain, starting at 7 a.m. on Saturday, a half
hour before the first group of players teed off. Later that
morning the course became saturated, and play was suspended for
more than five hours. The delay hurt some players and helped
others. Webb was definitely among the former. In fact her play
on the four holes she was able to get in before the long delay
probably cost her her first major title. Webb bogeyed two of
them. Play resumed at 4 p.m., and when the day finally ended,
she had steadied herself and finished with a 74, but in playing
the front side in 10 more strokes than on Thursday, she had
slipped back to nine under. "I think this has been the longest
day of my life," she said. "When you get off to such a bad
start, it's pretty hard to think of anything but that you've
lost the lead." Mallon emerged on top at 10 under, but it was
Davies, finishing her round of 70 with a birdie and an eagle to
get to five under, who was suddenly back in the picture.

And who was that at eight under? It was the new and improved
Lopez, who is causing double takes after four months of
dieting--she has lost 37 pounds--and serious exercise. Winless
since the 1993 Youngstown-Warren [Ohio] LPGA Classic, Lopez
added a 69 to her opening rounds of 68 and 71 and stood poised
to win her first major since the '89 LPGA Championship. "I felt
like the old Nancy Lopez," she said. "This is very satisfying."

Davies and Webb were feeling less upbeat. Both had learned
earlier in the week that Colin Lunn, the 56-year-old father of
two of their best friends, LPGA players Karen and Mardi Lunn,
had died on July 25 in Australia. "I was shocked," Davies said.
"When I told them I was coming to Australia for the funeral,
they told me to do something better and win the tournament for
their dad. They said the same thing to Karrie and Brandie Burton
because we are all pretty close. He was a wonderful bloke. He
loved to drink and eat with his friends and watch us play
golf--not just his daughters, all of us. It's a sad time."

Lunn would have loved seeing the way Davies attacked the course
on a windy and raw Sunday. Playing ahead of Lopez and Webb and
with her brother Tony as her caddie, Davies holed out from a
bunker for birdie at the 3rd, then birdied the 7th and 8th to
make the turn in 32. After a bogey at the 11th, she chipped in
for birdie at the 12th, made another birdie at the 13th and
added two more on the two par-5s coming home--she reached the
465-yard 18th with a two-iron drive and a six-iron second
shot--for 66.

"The first three rounds I struggled with my putting," Davies
said. "Today they went in. I thought if I could shoot 69,
something might happen. I'm a great scoreboard watcher, and no
one was making many birdies out there."

Webb tried but again was derailed on the first nine. After she
went out in 38, her two birdies over the final four holes
brought only a tie with Lopez, one stroke ahead of Mallon, who
finished fourth. "I shot 30 on the front on Thursday, and then I
don't know what happened on the weekend," Webb said. "You can
never say you don't want to be in the lead, but I suppose I play
better when I come from behind."

Lopez pulled to within a shot after a birdie on the par-5 15th
but failed to apply any additional pressure. Later, after her
best finish in a major since tying for third at last year's
Dinah Shore, Lopez sounded almost as if she had won. "I was
making putts like I used to," she said. "I feel like I I won
within myself. Laura didn't take me by surprise. With her
length, she can shoot 66 on a course like this."

Or on most any course, really. After picking up her trophy,
Davies hopped back onto a plane for a trip to Scotland, where
she'll play in the Scottish Open this week. Davies planned to
celebrate with some champagne and maybe an upgrade to first class.

Make that world class.

COLOR PHOTO: PHOTOGRAPHS BY JACQUELINE DUVOISIN The powerful Davies finished brilliantly, saving her best for when the weather was worst. [Laura Davies] COLOR PHOTO: PHOTOGRAPHS BY JACQUELINE DUVOISINs By losing 37 pounds, Lopez put some muscle into what had been a sagging game. [Nancy Lopez]

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)