2005: Cricket’s loss is ETSU’s gain
Rio Grande, Puerto Rico
Growing up in Wales, Rhys Davies played as many sports as he could, including tennis, rugby, soccer, cricket and golf.
By his early teens, he decided to concentrate on cricket and golf. He performed well at the highest level in both sports and, in fact, considered a professional future in cricket. He played for the Glamorgan Academy, a proving ground for up-and-coming players and a stepping stone to the pro ranks. But playing 40-plus games a season didn’t leave Davies with a lot of time for golf. So, just before he turned 17, Davies changed directions.
“As much as I loved cricket, and still do, I decided to dedicate my time to golf,” Davies said. “I just felt I enjoyed golf more, was better at golf and had a better future in golf.”
It’s a decision East Tennessee State men’s golf coach Fred Warren is glad Davies made. After a strong junior career, Davies signed to attend ETSU and has not looked back. A sophomore this season, he is the Bucs’ team leader on and off the course.
“Everyone on the team respects him. . . . I always knew he was going to be a good player, and in the process I got a team leader as well,” Warren said. “He’s extremely talented, very competitive and very focused, but he’s also very cordial and likable.”
As a junior golfer in 2002, Davies helped lead Wales to its first victory in 70 years at the Home International Championships, and was selected
as captain of the Great Britain & Ireland boys team. The next year, he captured the British Boys Amateur and was runner-up at the Welsh Amateur.
Last summer, Davies, 19, won three of his four matches in helping lead Europe to a 141⁄2-91⁄2 victory over the United States at the Palmer Cup.
“He’s an excellent putter and his wedge game is just phenomenal,” Warren said. “Put a wedge in his hand inside 100 yards and he will stun you.”
Although his freshman year at ETSU was fairly average – three top 10s, including a second at the Southern Conference Championship and a 73.5 scoring average – Davies has blossomed as a sophomore. This past fall he had three top 3s, including his first college victory at the Carpet Capital Invitational, and lowered his average to 70.5.
“I just feel more comfortable this year,” said Davies, who is ranked No. 9 in the Golfweek/ Sagarin College Rankings. He had climbed as high as No. 5 earlier in the spring. “I’m staying more focused and believe more in myself. I feel I can shoot a low round even when things aren’t clicking. I just believe more in my game.”
In looking ahead to the rest of the season, Davies said he wants to “just play as well as I can and do whatever I can to help get our team to the NCAA Championship.”
Beyond that, Davies’ top goal is to be selected for the 2005 GB&I Walker Cup squad, which will face the United States in August at Chicago Golf Club.
“That would be the ultimate,” Davies said, “and that’s what I’m shooting for.”