Taking a stroll down amateur lane

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NEWPORT, Wales – Walking down the range here at Celtic Manor was like a stroll down amateur golf’s memory lane.

I bumped into two guys I’ve covered in the unpaid ranks: former East Tennessee State player Rhys Davies and James Heath, who played for a brief time at Augusta State.

Davies obviously still feels attached to his alma mater. He carries the ETSU logo on his bag, although he says coach Fred Warren isn’t paying him to do so!

Both are playing here on sponsor invites. Davies is in the field because he’s a local. He lives just 40 minutes from the golf course.

Heath’s invitation came because he’s friendly with one of the sponsors.

Having covered both in amateur golf, I find it hard to believe they are struggling to find a foothold in the professional game.

Davies is plying his trade on the Asian Tour, with brief visits to the European Tour. He’s killing time until Q-School later this year. Heath is in a more perilous state. He doesn’t have any sort of decent status anywhere.

Heath has only played four times on the European Challenge Tour this season, and hasn’t lasted all four rounds in each one. He feels he will only get about five more starts this year, but is desperate to play a full schedule somewhere.

It’s hard to fathom why these two should be struggling since both were standouts in amateur golf. Heath’s victory in the 2004 Lytham Trophy was one of the most impressive displays I’ve ever witnessed, in amateur or professional golf. While Davies has a putting stroke most world top 10 players would pay good money for.

The fact they are scrambling to make the European Tour is another reminder, if any were needed, of the depth of talent in European golf.

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