British star to play Mount Broughton Classic

GOLF 

Big-hitting Briton and former world No 1 Laura Davies is headed for the sedate Southern Highlands - and she's bringing an international cast with her for next weekend's Mount Broughton Classic.

Having revolutionised the sport with her monstrous drives, Davies's return to the region will be her first since picking up a miserly $3750 for winning the Kangaroo Valley Resort Classic in 2010. She will arrive Down Under next week to prepare for the Australian summer.

Davies's campaign will have a low-key beginning at the Antill Park Pro-Am at Picton next Thursday, before heading up the road to Mount Broughton's often vicious layout just outside Bowral for the $30,000 two-day event.

The club's manager of operations Davyd Reeves said Mount Broughton had never seen a calibre of field like the one entered for this year's Classic.

"Basically we've doubled the field and over 50 per cent of the field are internationals," he said.

"Apart from Laura Davies coming from the UK we've got plenty from the US, Sweden, Canada, France, Norway, Spain and even Thailand."

It means the days of "sneaking off to the Pro-Ams and making good money" were over, according to another world-performed golfer of Davies's vintage, Karen Lunn.

The ex-British Open champion said Davies, renowned for breaking down the gender barrier when becoming the first female to compete against a male field on the European tour, wouldn't have it all her own way at Mount Broughton.

"With Laura, she's not the straightest hitter now so the course might not set up well for her," said Lunn, ranked 182 in the world. "It depends how thick the rough is at Mount Broughton.

"If she plays well, she's been the best player in the world so she's going to be competitive. But she would have had a break as well over Christmas and New Year so there's a lot of people coming in without tournament preparation."

Lunn described the international invasion as "really exciting" for the Australian Ladies Professional Golf tour.

Having broken a 22-year drought for wins professionally in Australia with victory in last year's Royal Canberra Ladies Classic, Lunn endured an up-and-down end to 2012.

The 10-time European-tour winner said she had ironed out some flaws in her game in preparation for a bounce-back year.

"Obviously I won the tournament in Canberra last year and I love to win any event and I'd certainly like to contend in the Australian Open [next month]," she said.

"I didn't have a great end to the year, but I've been really happy with my practice since then and I think I've turned a bit of a corner.

"You can't pick and choose, whether you win the Mt Broughton Pro-Am or the Australian Open it's what you work your backside off for.

"To get a win in any of these events with such fantastic fields would be fantastic," Lunn said.

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