It was fitting that the icons came face to face at a venue as historic as the Royal Birkdale Golf Club in Southport. Time came to a standstill for Laura Davies, winner of 76 titles worldwide, when Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard offered his hand in greeting at the practice range during the Women's British Open in July. Laura, who was to tee off 15 minutes later, was left shaking with excitement. “My hands trembled and it was difficult to hit the tee shot,” she said.
The association with the Reds runs deep and even during “one of her most trying weeks on tour”, the Englishwoman ensured the connect stayed intact. Ever since landing in Delhi on Monday, one sleepless night followed another as the gentle giant from Coventry was made to run from pillar to post in search of her golf bags. Miserable at having missed the events preceding the Hero Honda Women's Indian Open, Laura sought succor by watching Liverpool play Wigan Athletic in the early hours of Thursday. Providence or otherwise, no sooner had the match ended did she get a call that the bags had been traced.
The early morning exercise at the airport meant the body was unwilling when Laura, 47, descended at the DLF Golf & Country Club. It was the satisfaction of trying till the final hour to retrieve what was hers that drove the spirit. “There was no way I was not going to play after coming all the way, I had even asked for a late afternoon tee-off. It is better to try than not try at all and I was prepared to even play with a borrowed set,” said a weary Laura after the opening round of 65 that placed her two clear of Australia's Rebecca Flood and Thai Praewnappa Phol-Uayporn.
The joy of feeling her clubs was apparent as Laura opened with a birdie and at the time of making the turn, she was four-under, which included consecutive birdies on the last three holes.
“I did not hit the ball the way I would have liked to, but the putting was incredible,” she said and proof lay in the three birdies she pocketed on the back nine.
The Indians failed to make a mark with amateur Vaishavi Sinha best placed at T26 with a 73. Smriti Mehra, Sharmila Nicollet and Saaniya Sharma were T77 at 78.