Davies, back in driving range, is favorite in LPGA tournament

May 11, 1994|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,Sun Staff Writer

WILMINGTON, Del. -- It has taken several years and a loss of confidence along the way, but Laura Davies says she finally has her golf game under control.

It is one of the reasons the Englishwoman is a favorite for the 40th LPGA Championship, which begins tomorrow at Du Pont Country Club.

This is the first year McDonald's has sponsored the championship, after backing its own event for the previous 13 years (the past seven here). Davies won here last year, beating Sherri Steinhauer by a stroke.

That was her only win of the year, but served as the catalyst for her best money year in six LPGA seasons. That $240,643 in 16 events, however, pales next to what she has done in seven starts in 1994 -- $302,628, No. 1 on the money list.

"There was a time when I lost confidence in my driver, and I took it out of my game," Davies said yesterday. "You hit it out of bounds enough times, you learn where you can hit the driver and where you can't.

"Now, the driver is back. I'm not hitting it as far [a 247-yard average], but it is more under control. And last week's course was wide open . . . like this one. You come in here knowing you can hit the driver.

"Right now, I'm playing as well as I ever have."

In seven LPGA events this year, she has won at Phoenix and Nashville (last weekend) and was second in the year's first major, the Dinah Shore. Overall this season, including events in England, Japan and Thailand, she has played 11 tournaments and had seven top-four finishes.

Beth Daniel is another favorite, coming in off a third two weeks ago and a fourth last week. Other possible choices include former McDonald's winners Patty Sheehan (1990) and Betsy King (1987 and 1989).

LPGA CHAMPIONSHIP

Where: Du Pont CC, Wilmington, Del.

When: Thursday-Sunday (single 18-hole rounds each day).

Course: Par 71, 6,386 yards

Purse: $1.1 million (First place, $165,000)

Defending champion: Patty Sheehan

Field: 144 players (cut to low 70 and ties for last two rounds)

Tickets: Available at gate ($10 today; $14 tomorrow-Friday; $16 Saturday and Sunday)

Directions: Take I-95 north and follow signs (about 75 minutes from I-95 and Baltimore Beltway northeast of Baltimore.

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