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Original Issue


Anybody who plays golf knows that the game is only slightly less
difficult than splitting the atom. That's why after 12 years on
the LPGA and European tours, I've come to accept the fact that
life isn't all silver trophies, red roses and oversized checks.
Sometimes you feel like impaling yourself on your putter--or in
my case this season, the dozens of putters I've tried.

For example, after the McDonald's LPGA Championship in May, I
was almost in tears as a result of my poor putting. Then I
reminded myself that what I'm going through this year--my putts
are falling as frequently as it rains in the Sahara--hardly
qualifies as a bona fide slump. After all, I have won a
tournament, the Standard Register Ping in Phoenix (for the
fourth time in a row), just missed winning the Giant Eagle LPGA
Classic two weeks ago in Warren, Ohio, and rank seventh on the
money list with more than $400,000 in earnings.

Besides, I know what a real slump is. In 1991 I fell out with my
driver and missed something like five straight cuts because I
couldn't hit a fairway. When I won the Inamori Classic in Poway,
Calif., I used my two-iron all the way around and never took the
driver out of my bag. The fans must have thought I was mad. That
year was miserable, horrible, an alltime low. There has been
nothing in my career to compare with it.

This year hasn't been all that bad. People judge me by the
previous three seasons, and that's a high standard, which is why
I'm not too worried about my recent struggles. I've always known
that my great run would end and I'd have to deal with it. I've
never been one for practice--you still won't see me on the
driving range mindlessly hitting balls--but in the last couple
of months I've spent a lot of time on the putting green. I would
rather be doing something else, but I'm happy to spend an hour
or two a day working on my stroke if that's what it takes to
restore my confidence. When the putts start dropping, I know
everything will fall into place. I hope it happens in time for
next week's British Open because I love the course. Sunningdale
is next to my house. I have five bedrooms, and they're all booked.

In the meantime, I refuse to become one of those monstrous
athletes who behave like spoiled brats when things aren't going
well. I still speak civilly to the media and to the fans. I have
fun, like when I used a Coke can and a pencil as tees in the
long-driving contest in Warren.

I learned something after that 1991 season: No matter how bad
things get, playing golf is about the best way to earn a living
that I can think of, even if the putts don't always fall.

Laura Davies ranks 49th in putting, with 29.80 per round.

COLOR PHOTO: BILL FRAKES Davies refuses to go off the deep end. [Laura Davies]