Davies Defends Kathy Ireland

The Kathy Ireland Championship honoring Harvey Penick starts tomorrow; Davies is defending champion...

GOLFmagic Newswire
Wed, 25 Apr 2001
Davies Defends Kathy Ireland

AUSTIN, Texas – After 13 years on the LPGA Tour, 19 career LPGA Tour victories, 61 international victories and amassing a total of 24 LPGA Tour Hall of Fame points, defending champion Laura Davies returns to the Lone Star state to defend her title at this week’s $900,000 Kathy Ireland Championship honoring Harvey Penick, April 26-29. Last year’s win was her second of two victories in 2000; which helped her become the ninth LPGA player to cross the $5 million mark in career earnings.

This is the second LPGA event sponsored by Kathy Ireland. A lifestyle designer and avid golfer, Ireland sponsored last year’s Kathy Ireland Greens.com LPGA Classic in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Laura Davies looks to defend
This week will be Davies’ third appearance at the Austin, Texas, event, the LPGA’s only Texas stop. In addition to her 2000 win, Davies has had a good run at Onion Creek: she tied for 27th in 1999 and has posted under-par scores during five of her eight tournament rounds.

Davies faces a full of 144-player field, which includes LPGA Tour Hall of Famers Amy Alcott, JoAnne Carner, Beth Daniel and Betsy King. Five 2001 tournament winners Sophie Gustafson, Lorie Kane, Catriona Matthew, Se Ri Pak and Grace Park are also competing. Meg Mallon and Mi Hyun Kim, both of whom won in 2000, are also playing.

Pak will be one of Davies’ toughest challenges this week. Pak has won twice in 2001, including last week’s Longs Drugs Challenge. She also was runnerup to Annika Sorenstam on two occasions this season: the Welch’s/Circle K Championship and the Standard Register PING. This week will be Pak’s first appearance at the Kathy Ireland Championship honoring Harvey Penick.

The winner’s circle has eluded the long-hitting Brit thus far in 2001. Her best finish in seven events is a tie for fifth at the Subaru Memorial of Naples. A win this week would give Davies one of the three remaining LPGA Tour Hall of Fame points she needs to qualify for the LPGA Tour Hall of Fame. In 2000, she also won the 2000 Los Angeles Women’s Championship.

In last year’s event, Sherri Steinhauer and Sherri Turner led the first round with a five-under-par 65, a two-shot lead over the field. In the second round, Davies carded a three-under- par 67 to claim the lead, which she held for the remainder of the event. In the final round of play, Davies began the day at seven-under-par with a threeshot lead over Tammie Green and Susie Redman. While the duo of Davies and Redman battled throughout the day gaining and losing shots throughout the entire round, Green, who was suffering from the flu, slipped off the leaderboard.

Davies played the final five holes of play the same way she played the entire first three rounds of the event, with steady, smooth iron strokes. The Brit survived swirling winds and recorded pars on the last five holes coming down the stretch to finish at five-under-par 275 and claim her 19th LPGA Tour victory by two strokes over Dottie Pepper.

Moira Dunn posted a four-day 278 (- 2) to finish in a three-way tie for third with Alison Nicholas and Redman. Kelly Robbins, Dawn Coe-Jones and Steinhauer tied for sixth at 279 (-1), followed by seven players tied for ninth at 280 (E).

Proceeds from the Kathy Ireland Championship honoring Harvey Penick will benefit Neighborhood Longhorn, a local charity that targets youths in grades three to eight to encourage personal development and inspire students to pursue higher learning through exposure to college experience.