PALM HARBOR — Laura Davies never had played an LPGA Legends Tour event before this weekend's Open Championship on the Island Course at Innisbrook.
After a successful debut, Davies will undoubtedly find more time to compete on the 45-and-over tour.
Davies started Sunday's final round one stroke behind first-round leader Laurie Rinker but needed only four holes to take the top position.
By the back nine, Davies was well in command. A London resident, Davies fired 2-under par 71 to run away from the field and win the Open Championship by two strokes over Beth Daniel and Barb Moxness. Davies shot 5-under 141 total for the tournament.
"I'm hoping … I can find a few more of these to play in because I kind of like them," Davies said, half-jokingly.
The internationally acclaimed Davies, 49, has 82 tournament victories throughout her 28-year professional career. Most of her success can be attributed to her ability to hit the ball farther than any other woman.
At Innisbrook, Davies' length was overpowering.
Davies hit irons off the tee on nearly every par-4 while most competitors used drivers. Davies took her driver out of the bag only three times each round.
"This course is basically a par 69 for her as long as she hits it," Daniel said.
Davies took first place with birdies on Nos. 2 and 4. She rebounded from a bogey on the short, 435-yard par-5 10th with birdies on 11 and 12 to grab a commanding lead.
"I hit one really bad shot. I hit a very poor 6-iron on No. 10 and left myself with an impossible third shot, and I ended up bogeying a very easy par 5," said Davies, who earned $30,000 for the victory. "I got a bit worried then, but having said that, I then came back with two good birdies. I always felt like I had just enough in hand."
Davies had a three-shot lead entering 18 and capped the victory with a tap-in bogey putt.
"Three-putting the last hole is a shame, but what can you do?" Davies said.
Daniel carded 2-under 71 to finish the tournament at 3 under. She made a run at Davies after birdies on Nos. 10 and 12, but consecutive bogeys on 13 and 14 were too much for the Delray Beach resident to overcome.
"I made a couple of mistakes out there," Daniel said. "I had some opportunities, but it was a nice, steady round of golf. I'm happy with how I played."
Moxness had Sunday's best round at 5-under 68 to tie Daniel for second.
"I putted really well on the front," Moxness said. "I putted well on the back too, they just didn't go in."
Jane Crafter, Rosie Jones and 2011 Open Championship winner Michele Redman tied for fourth, four strokes behind Davies at 1 under. Rinker, a former standout at Florida, fell out of contention by shooting 5 over on the front nine on her way to 77 on the day, even for the tournament. She tied for seventh, as did Tampa resident Nancy Scranton (74).