NEWPORT, Wales – Rhys Davies wasn’t in the Ryder Cup reckoning a year ago. He is now.
The 25-year-old wasn’t even in the European Tour reckoning a year ago. He was plying his trade on the European Challenge Tour. It’s testimony to how far he’s come in such a short time. His name is now being bandied about as the first Welsh player to play in the match since Phillip Price in 2002.
Davies has taken an arduous route to the European Tour since graduating from East Tennessee State. He served his apprenticeship on the Asian Tour and European Challenge Tour after turning pro in 2007.
Fourth place on last year’s Challenge Tour money list earned him a ticket to play on the main tour this season. He hasn’t spurned his opportunity.
A win in Morocco gave him a one-year European Tour exemption. He earned the right to play in the Open Championship courtesy of good play through the BMW PGA Championship. Then a day after getting into his home Open, he qualified to play in the U.S. Open.
Last week, he pushed Luke Donald all the way in the Madrid Masters, coming up a stroke short to finish second. Davies is now 55th on the Official World Golf Ranking.
No wonder his face adorns the current cover of Sporting Wales.
No wonder he’s the star of the show this week at Celtic Manor, the man everyone wants to talk to.
And the subject on everyone’s lips: his chances of playing in this year’s Ryder Cup, just 30 minutes from his front door.
Davies says that will happen if he continues the way he’s playing.
“I set my schedule to try to win tournaments,” Davies said. “If I go and win a lot of tournaments this summer, then I’ll probably come back here in October.”
The Welshman had one goal when he arrived on tour this year. He wanted to win. That happened just eight tournaments into this season. Not surprisingly, he’s set himself the same goal from now until the end of the season.
“I would like to win another one.”
After his performances so far, few doubt his ability to do just that. Price has no doubt that Davies can go a long way in this game.
“He’s very talented, a very special player,” said Price, who punctuated his only Ryder Cup outing with a singles victory over Phil Mickelson. “I think people are beginning to realize he’s the best putter in the world and very confident.”
Besides winning, Davies had a few other targets at the beginning of this season.
“I set a side goal at the start of the year to put myself in some difficult positions, whether it would be with world-class players or last groups Saturdays and Sundays. In other words, environments that I feel quite uncomfortable in. I wanted to see how I responded.
“I responded really well to just about all of those situations. Therefore it definitely helps me feel a little bit calmer and feels good under a pressured environment.”
There is no greater pressure than the Ryder Cup.
Davies is 19th on the overall European list. Although it’s a tall order for him to make the team, few now doubt he has the capability to do it.