A traumatic build-up to the Hero Honda Women's Indian Open meant Laura Davies least expected to top the leaderboard after the opening day. The 65 did assuage the harassment she had had to endure while locating the misplaced golf bags, but amid the relief of squashing fears of “missing the cut”, there was a hint of sadness.
In the 25 years spent as a pro, the effort has been “to be like” Seve Ballesteros. “I wish I could be as good,” said Laura wistfully. An over-par round on Saturday threatened to push her out of contention and seemed to buttress the admission.
The winner of five Majors, Ballesteros, recuperating after surgery to remove a brain tumour, was supposed to feature at this year's Open Championship in St Andrews, but withdrew following medical advice. Had the Spanish great been present at the DLF Golf & Country Club on Sunday, he would have come away beaming.
Pulling back from the brink, Laura, languishing behind the leaders, recorded a birdie and an eagle on the final two holes to earn a place in the four-way playoff with Louise Friberg, Tandi Cuningham and Nontaya Srisawang. Before the final day, Laura's record in playoffs stood at 2-12, but the 47-year-old winner of multiple Majors ensured the record now reads slightly better.
The task was onerous. “I had to put yesterday behind and ensure a good start,” said Laura. A birdie did happen on the first but the ensuing barren stretch, which also witnessed bogeys on the 9th and 10th, meant all was lost, till the putter warmed up.
Aware of her poor record in play-offs, Laura adopted a conservative approach. Telling herself that a “second place was good enough”, the burly golfer from Coventry looked away after every shot and continued to adopt the “carefree” attitude till she holed the winning putt.
The cheque of $45,000 ensured the race with Lee-Ann Pace, who finished T15 with a 218, for the Henderson Money List would be decided at the season-ending Omega Dubai Ladies Master.
A win for Laura should settle the issue provided Lee-Anne does not finish second.
Even in the hour of triumph, Laura remembered she had a date to keep. Wading her way through autograph-seekers, she was confronted by a die-hard who sought the mud-caked autographed shoes.
“If I were you I would bin them,” she said and hurried off. On the agenda was a tryst with Steven Gerrard's men, as Liverpool took on Stoke City.