It is a special week for Dame Laura Davies at the AIG Women’s Open, one made extra special on the eve of the action at Royal Troon.
Ahead of striking the opening tee shot at 6.30am BST on Thursday, Davies was handed an official painting of the venue’s famous ‘Postage Stamp’ eighth hole by The R&A’s Chief Executive, Martin Slumbers.
The presentation, fittingly held at the first tee, marks her historic 40th appearance at the championship. Davies began her run in the event as a 16-year-old amateur in 1980 at Wentworth, quickly going on to win the AIG Women’s Open in 1986 at Royal Birkdale in only her second year on tour.
Now the Englishwoman will follow Colin Montgomerie, who opened proceedings at Royal Troon’s last staging of The Open in 2016.
Bracing herself for windy conditions on Thursday, the 56-year-old said, “It's a great honour. Martin mentioned that Monty had done it at The Open and I didn't hesitate to say ‘yes’. I’m just delighted to have enjoyed longevity in my career.
“I’ll be nervous on the tee, not just in the circumstances but also with the predicted strong wind, so it’s going to be tough. I'm looking forward to it and I hope I hit a good one.”
Davies, who tees off in the company of Northern Irish amateur Olivia Mehaffey and Canada’s Alena Sharp, added, “It's an early start, but I'm hoping we can get out there and maybe have a decent start. The condition of the course is about as good as I reckon you could have a links golf course.”
Martin Slumbers added: “I think it’s a great honour for Laura, she is the finest female golfer of her generation. Forty times playing in this event is a tremendous achievement and I wouldn’t put it past her to be hanging around there on Sunday.
“We’ve done this at The Open for the last few years, started it here with Colin. I think the first tee shot of the championship is something to really celebrate and I couldn’t think of a better person to hit that tee shot.”