Refreshed Rhys Davies eyes return to golf's elite


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Rhys Davies has proved in the past he can compete with golf’s finest, yet today he does not know his world ranking.

The 34-year-old was once described by Colin Montgomerie as being the man with the million-dollar putting stroke – and there was a time when prize money flowed.

Davies was one of golf’s next big things, a rising star whose potential was recognised when Montgomerie asked him to drive his buggy at the 2010 Ryder Cup.

The Welshman knew how to get around Celtic Manor – he holds the record on the Twenty Ten course – but would soon lose his way in his career.

By last November, Davies had decided the best option was to take a break from golf and the clubs were left untouched for six months as he focused on his young family.

But the countdown to a competitive return has begun.

Davies, from Bridgend, can be found hitting balls at Royal Porthcawl, the club he joined as a kid and where he is now an honorary member.

Rhys Davies<!–

Davies is determined to contend once again with the best golfers on the planet.

“I am very ambitious,” he tells BBC Sport Wales. “I really want to be playing at the top level in years to come.

“I know that if I play to my ability, when it comes to competition I will be happy and content and therefore good results will come.

“If I play good golf I will be in contention. I don’t doubt that – I never have.”

Davies’ notable amateur career included two Walker Cup appearances – alongside Rory McIlroy among others – when he enjoyed singles victories over Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler.

He turned professional in 2007 and, after two Challenge Tour triumphs in 2009, won on the European Tour – the Trophee Hassan II – in March 2010.

“I had a 12-month period between the middle of 2009 and the middle of 2010 where I was really good,” Davies says.

“I don’t think I ever really had the opportunity to reflect and realise how good some of those performances were, because you are constantly striving for the next thing.

“You don’t always take in what you have done and as a result I think it caught up with me over time.

“I was mentally fatigued, no question. I probably felt it for a number of years.”

Montgomerie, Europe’s captain in 2010, suggested Davies was a Ryder Cup player of the “very near future” after summoning him for buggy duty.

Davies had come close to qualifying for the Newport event thanks to form which saw him climb to 44th in the world rankings.

He played in The Open in 2009, 2010 and 2011, and the US Open – which he had first played in 2007 – and US PGA Championship in 2010, yet lost his European tour card in 2012.

Davies fought his way back after two Challenge Tour wins in 2015, but lost his card for a second time 12 months later and struggled over the next couple of years.

Colin Montgomerie and Rhys Davies<!–

“The thing with golf is you so rarely win that it’s quite hard to accept what’s good and what isn’t,” Davies says.

“It’s very hard to say I finished 25th, I played really well. Most people wonder why you are happy with 25th.

“The truth is no, I am not happy with 25th, but I did a lot of good things. It’s easy to fall into the trap of saying I must be better, I must be better. That’s probably the route I have gone down too often.”

Davies has seen some golf on television during his spell away from the fairways, although watching big events can prompt frustration that he is not involved.

“I think that’s fair to say,” he adds.

“The difficulty with golf is there’s always somebody playing well. If you are not playing well, it’s quite easy to think that person is playing well all the time. You relate it back to you.

“You often don’t realise that person is only playing well sporadically. It’s easy to get wrapped up in it in the wrong way.”

Rhys Davies<!–

Davies feels “much fresher” as he builds towards a return to tournament golf in the autumn.

He has played just one full round to date, at Porthcawl, and shot a three-under-par 69.

“I am not going to pretend it was under tournament conditions but it was something,” Davies says. “I was pleasantly surprised with what I was able to do.”

He puts that famous putting stroke down to hours spent practising as a kid, either at home or on “various putting greens across south Wales”.

“It’s something I am pretty good at,” Davies adds.

“I have always prided myself on it and have a good understanding of what I am trying to do. I will back myself against most people for sure.”

Davies does not lack belief despite the barren times he has been through.

Rhys Davies<!–

He is convinced he can recapture the form of his younger days, and remains hopeful he can return to the Ryder Cup – this time with clubs – somewhere down the line.

“Realistically now that is a long way off, but one or two tournaments can change everything in your year or even your career,” Davies says.

The first steps on the path back to the top end of the game could come via sponsors’ invites or through pre-tournament qualifying.

Davies is also considering going to Q School, which sees around 1,000 golfers do battle for 25 places on next year’s European Tour. It is a notoriously testing challenge, but then he has come through plenty of those.

As for world rankings, Davies has slipped all the way to 1,912th – but expect that to change.

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