SAMMAMISH, Wa. – Now that Inbee Park has met all of the criteria to become the newest member of the LPGA Hall of Fame, Laura Davies returns to the top of the list among the closest contenders.
The expression “so close, yet so far away” doesn’t do justice to what Davies has endured over the past 15 LPGA seasons.
The Wegman’s Rochester Invitational victory in 2001 put Davies two points away from meeting all of the LPGA Hall of Fame requirements. But she’s been stuck on 25 points ever since and at or near the top of the HOF waiting list.
Park is the fourth player since Davies’ last win to reach HOF status. Annika Sorenstam, (2003), Karri Webb (’05) and Se Ri Pak (’07) preceded Park. The nine years between Pak and Park is the second-longest stretch in LPGA history without a Hall of Fame qualifier.
Davies still needs either two regular tour wins or one major, like the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship being played at Sahalee Country Club this weekend, to make it.
When the LPGA Hall of Fame qualifications were re-set in 1967, players were required to win at least 30 tournaments and five majors, 35 tournaments and one major, or 40 tournaments. The criteria was changed for the third time in 1999.
Players now must have 10 years of experience, have at least 27 points under a system that awards one point each for victories, player-of-the-year award or scoring title, and two points for winning a major championship.
Davies, 53, has far more than 10 years of experience, won 16 times, was the LPGA Player of the Year in 1996, and has won four majors, including the 1987 U.S. Open. That’s a total of 25 points.
So close, yet so far away.
“It’s a tough club to get into,” Davies said Friday after shooting a second-round 2-over 73 for a two-day total of 150 — one over the cut line. “That’s why I want to be in it. I think it’s the toughest Hall of Fame in the world to get into. But you know what? I’m trying. I’m trying really hard. I just can’t score at the moment. From tee to green I’m fine. But oh those putts. I’m just not putting well and that’s the name of the game.
“I missed the cut today by one shot,” she added. “I have missed six cuts this year and all of them have been by one shot. I just can’t get the breaks. But to win tournaments you need to be doing better than just making cuts.”
Davis can recall several tournaments in the past 15 years that she could and probably should have won.
“I have thrown away four chances,” she said. “One time I had someone hole an eagle putt on the last hole to beat me by one shot. Another time, I had a triple-bogey on the last hole in a tournament in Florida and lost by one.”
Those are another two points she could have had and this story wouldn’t be written. But the what-ifs don’t end there.
“It might sound like sour grapes, because I enjoyed playing in Europe, but when I was playing my best and winning I didn’t play as much over here as I probably should have,” the Coventry, England native said. “If had it to do all over again I probably would have played more on the LPGA Tour.
“You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to realize that if I had played a full schedule in America for the 10 or 15 years when I was at the top of my game, then I would have gotten those two wins I need, but I didn’t do it.”
Two points. Just two more points.
Davies admits that chasing the points that have eluded her for so long might be a pipedream. While the tank that was once full of confidence is running low, it still is not empty.
“I still think I am good enough to win,” she said. “I feel like one day, if I hole some putts, I might be able to win again. That’s why I’m still here. To win again would be unbelievable because it has been so long. That’s why I keep going, really. I want to keep trying to do it.”
So where does she go from here?
“I’ll keep plugging along,” she said. “What else am I going to do? There’s nothing else I want to do. I have that ultimate goal of either winning a major or two regular tournaments. That would give me the two points I need. It’s a pipedream now because it’s been so long since I won.”
But she still believes that dreams do come true.
The leading Hall of Fame contenders:
Player Wins Majors Awards Total Points
Laura Davies 16 (16 points) 4 (8 points) POY 1996 (1 point) 25
Yani Tseng 10 (10 points) 5 (10 points) POY 2010 & 2011 23
Vare 2011 (3 points)
Cristie Kerr 16 (16 points) 2 (4 points) N/A 20
Suzann Pettersen 13 (13 points) 2 (4 points) N/A 17
Stacy Lewis 9 (9 points) 2 (4 points) POY ’12 & ’14 17
Vare ’13 & ‘14 (4 points)
Lydia Ko 10 (10 points) 2 (4 points) POY 2015 (1 point) 15