Dame Laura Davies can look forward to making a record 37th appearance in the Ricoh Women’s British Open after successfully coming through Final Qualifying at the Castle Course in St Andrews.
However, the 1986 champion had to do it the hard way after posting a two under par round of 70 and then coming through a dramatic sudden-death play-off for the last available places.
Davies went out in one under par 36 but then fell back to level with a bogey on the 11th before turning things round with successive birdies on the 12th and 13th. She added another birdie on the 15th but then gave it back on the 16th before beginning the long wait to see if she would make into a stellar field for this week’s Championship at Kingsbarns Golf Links.
“I’ve played in the last 36 Opens and have never had to qualify so this is a new experience for me,” Dame Laura said just after finishing her round just after mid-day.
“I don’t like it very much. I played well but I’m disappointed because I bogeyed 16 and damn near bogeyed 18 as well. It would have been nice to shoot four under. I would have happy as Larry with that, but now we’ll just have to see what the weather brings this afternoon. If I had to bet on it, I’d say I will get it, but golf’s a funny game.”
As it transpired, Davies had to make her way back to the Castle Course for a play-off in which 14 players were battling for 11 remaining places. She went on the par the first play-off hole, the 147-yard par-three 10th, and then saw her place confirmed when Nicole Garcia, Laura Murray, Laura Sedda and Amanda Linner all bogeyed behind her. That left this quartet playing for one final place. Sedda went out on the next, the par-4 11th, after missing a tap-in before Garcia grabbed the final place with a four-foot birdie putt on the third extra hole, the par-5 15th.
Davies was not the only high-profile player to come through Final Qualifying. She joined former US Open champion, Paul Creamer, who went out before 08.00 am and posted a four under par 68 which set the pace for several hours before she was joined by her compatriot Tiffany John and South Africa’s Ashleigh Buhai and then overtaken by late start, Ursula Wikstrom, from Finland, who posted a five under par 67.
Creamer began her round with a birdie at the first but then dropped shots at the second and third before carded an eagle at the seventh. She went on to birdie the ninth to go out in two under par 35 before finishing the round in style with further birdies on her last two holes.
“I’ve always liked a challenge and I’m very pleased with how I played,” she said. “It’s going to be huge. I haven’t missed a British Open since I turned professional and I didn’t want to start now. It’s good to do it the hard way.
“The eagle at the seventh was pretty cool,” she added. “I hit driver and six-iron and it was literally hanging over the edge. It was almost a two.”
Wikstrom went out in one of the last groups of the day at 13.56 and raced to the turn in three under 34 with birdies at the fourth, sixth and ninth holes. She gained another shot with a birdie on the 11th before claiming outright first place on the leaderboard with a birdie at the last.
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