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13th Beach Golf Links, VIC

1-4 February, 2024

30 Jan 2024 | Vic Open |

Davidson arrives at Vic Open stronger for fluctuating summer

by Tony Webeck

Karis Davidson tees off Australian Open
Karis Davidson enters the Vic Open full of confidence due to two wins over the Christmas break. Photo: Gregg Porteous

It began by seeing her name atop an LPGA leaderboard for the first time.

It ended with playoff wins over fellow Sanctuary Cove Golf and Country Club members Kade McBride and Brad Kennedy just eight days apart.

Yet the way she dealt with a disaster just four holes into the ISPS Handa Australian Open in December may prove to be the defining moment of Karis Davidson’s summer of fluctuating fortunes.

With the exception of an appearance at the flood-affected Melbourne International at Latrobe Golf Club, Davidson will make her WPGA Tour of Australasia 2024 debut at this week’s Vic Open ahead of her return to the US for her third season on the LPGA Tour.

This year marks the first time Davidson has been able to plot a schedule with full status, thanks in no small part to her tie for eighth at the Buick LPGA Shanghai in October.

A brilliant outward nine of 31 in the final round gave Davidson a share of the lead, the leaderboard briefly catching her attention as she began the back nine.

“I did see the leaderboard once. I was just like, ‘Oh, cool.’ And then just got on with it,” said Davidson, who finished just two shots out of the playoff between Angel Yin and Lilia Vu.

It was the manner in which Davidson handled the moment that most impressed coach Dom Azzopardi.

What happened at The Lakes Golf Club six weeks later is potentially even more significant.

Confident in her game and with a strong preparation under her belt, the 25-year-old began the Australian Open from the 10th tee at The Lakes with high hopes.

Those hopes appeared dashed just four holes later when she walked from the perilous par-4 13th green with a 10 to be suddenly 6-over for the championship.

There was a sense of shock.

There were a couple of tears.

Yet by the time she reached the par-3 15th Davidson had set herself a target.

“I thought, There are a lot of birdies out here, let’s just see how many I can get,” said Davidson, who had clawed her way back to 2-over by day’s end and didn’t have another bogey until the fourth hole of the third round.

“You get all those thoughts that you’re not even going to make the cut, stuff like that, but I picked myself up and got back into it. I was pretty proud of myself for that.”

The Christmas ‘break’ was also kind to the Gold Coaster.

With brother Zack on the bag, Davidson edged Kade McBride in the final two-person shootout to win the Blitz Golf event at Oxley Golf Club in Brisbane on December 29.

Nine days later she defeated Brad Kennedy at the first playoff hole to win the Sanctuary Cove Open Championship, a new honour board event played over The Palms and The Pines golf courses.

“The round on The Palms kind of felt like a pro-am because I was playing with a few of the members,” Davidson explained.

“Then I played with Kade, Brad Kennedy and Mitch Smith, one of the pros at Sanctuary Cove.

“Watching Brad, it was really good to see his routine and his process. I definitely learned a lot from him that day. He has such a process before the shot, after the shot.

“Brad and I got into a playoff and at that moment I did feel quite nervous and pressured to do well. That was good, to get those nerves.”

And take another step forward in her career.

“The LPGA is so competitive; the girls are amazing. The best golfers in the world. You can’t expect to just go out there and kill it straight away,” she added.

“It’s obviously encouraged my belief in myself, that I can do it.”

Joining Davidson in a star-studded field at 13th Beach Golf Links this week are defending champion Jiyai Shin, seven-time major winner Karrie Webb, Sarah Jane Smith, Webex Players Series Victoria runner-up Ashley Lau and Momoka Kobori.

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