England's Laura Davies is hoping this week to improve on her performance in last year's Irish Open, when she lost in a play-off to France's Sandrine Mendiburu.
The English player comes to the Waterford Crystal Irish Open on good form having already won twice in America and been in contention in last week's Chrysler Open. The 1999 Irish Open did not end well for the 37-year-old who hit into a ditch on the second extra hole to hand the title to Mendiburu, who won the play-off with a par. Mendiburu, who will be out to repeat her success, proved herself further last year by also winning the Hannover Expo 2000 Open two weeks after Ireland. Having failed to win so far this year, she will be hoping that a return to the £100,000 event will bring rich reward.
The finish Davies will be visualising this week at Waterford won't be last year's, but more likely will be that of 1995 when she set a new world record for the lowest finish, 25 under par 267, when the Open was held at St. Margarets. A win in last week's Chrysler would also have set a new record for the 60 time winner, as it would have been the first time anyone has won an event three years running in Europe.
It was not to be however, after a disappointing final round 76 moved her back into 10th place at the end of play.
Davies playing partner on the final day at Chrysler comes to Waterford with better memories of her most recent round. 27-year-old Samantha Head carded a final round four under par 68, to put her in second place behind Sweden's Carin Koch.
The 1999 Ladies Itailan Open winner is one of several young players who will be striving to make the Irish Open their first victory of 2000. Belgium's Valerie Van Ryckeghem has already come second twice this season, in the Ladies Italian Open and the Hannover Expo 2000 Ladies Open. The 1997 Italian Open is her sole victory to date but having showed such consistent form this year it should not be long before the 24-year-old backs it up with another.
One player who has already lived up to her immense potential is Sweden's Sophie Gustafson. The Swede has already won both sides of the Atlantic this year and names the 1998 Donegal Irish Open as one of her past victories.
The current leader of the 2000 Order of Merit, Gustafson's good form of late makes her a force to be reckoned with at this year's event.