If you're looking for an opinion on anything, Laura Davies is a pretty good person to seek out. She's never scared to lay it on the line, although, going into this week's AAMI Australian Open in Melbourne, she was wanting it every way.
After the pro-am at Yarra Yarra in Melbourne, she reckoned that the 6,054 yards course was way too short. 'It's certainly not long enough for me,' she claimed. 'If it was 7,000 yards or more then I would fancy my chances a lot more. But then you'd have 155 (it's a field of 156) pissed-off players.'
But then in the next breath she was reiterating her long held beef that women's par fives in tournament golf are always far too long.
One of the longest hitters in the game, she reckons that officials are sucking the excitement out of the game, and leaving the women to look embarrassingly inferior to the male of the species.
'We're always being compared to the men and, week after week, we see them having eagle putt, eagle putt, eagle putt. And it's not just the big hitters that get the greens in two, it's everyone,' she barked. 'For the really long players it's never more than a drive and a flick.
'But we're hardly ever given the chance to get home in two. They stretch our par fives to over 500 yards and even I'm having to blast a couple of drivers to have a chance. For the shorter hitters, there's no way.
'Tiger Woods can be 14 or 15 under for the par fives in one tournament but we're lucky if someone is two or three under. If we're playing to over 500 yards, it would be equivalent to the men playing to around 620 yards. I always feel it such a shame that the spectators and TV viewers don't get to see us putting for eagle more often. That's what they want, it makes us look good, and it adds to the excitement.'
However, she was relatively pleased with the overall Yarra Yarra set-up. 'It's not quite so bad this week. The four par fives are all within my reach, and I really think I have a chance this week.'
In fact, having a new found confidence in her driving, she was ready to blast her way round the course. Last year, during one of the lowest points of her career, Davies did not hit one shot with her longest club at last year's Australian Open.
But a mid-season change in shafts and victories in America, Japan and Europe have all helped re-boost her confidence. And a tie for fourth in last week's ANZ Australian Masters also helped.
'I am certainly going to try and use my driver this week,' she promised. 'I'll probably even have a go at the first (a 309 yards par four) if it is playing downwind.'
'It wasn't long after Australia that I discovered the shafts I had in a new set of clubs were far too stiff. They would be OK for Phil Mickelson, but not for me,' explained Britain's former world no one. 'I then went on to win tournaments in America, Japan and Europe and had a great season.
'Actually, losing my form so drastically was a good mental test. I practised more and proved I could get my confidence back. Now I firmly believe that I can still compete with the very best. I don't fear anyone.'
She went on to reveal that a number of sports psychologists had offered help. 'But I can't take any of that stuff seriously,' she said with a smile. 'I've had a lot of people telling me what they think is best for me. They've written books and all sorts of things. But I'm not interested.
'But as far as I am concerned, if I'm not good enough any more, then I'd pack up. If I'm not good enough, I can accept it. But I can't accept that I am a few screws loose.'
Davies, however, admitted that the best 'get away from golf' therapy comes in the forms of gambling and shopping. She's staying at the Crown Casino in Melbourne this week, and conceded with a smile 'You've got to be mental to go into a casino.'
|| 27 - FEBRUARY 2002