Davies up to No. 3 in Golfweek rankings; takes aim at Woods' win mark this weekend
Davies
Davies

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Nov. 2, 2005) - This week, ETSU junior Rhys Davies (Bridgend, Wales) returns to the site where he began a year-long streak that is virtually unmatched in the history of college golf.

 

Davies and his ETSU teammates will compete in the Carpet Capital Collegiate hosted by Georgia Tech Nov. 4-6 at The Farm Golf Club in Rocky Face, Ga. Davies, who has moved to No. 3 in the most recent Golfweek/Sagarin national rankings, won at this event a year ago, sparking a 12-month span that has witnessed the Welshman win seven events in total.

 

With a win this weekend, Davies would actually have eight wins within 365 days, matching Tiger Woods' mark of eight victories in a year during his time at Stanford. The record for wins in a season is actually nine, but currently, Davies' seven victories put his name along side golfing greats such as Phil Mickelson and Ben Crenshaw.

 

For more on Davies' memorable year, read the following story by Johnson City Press sportswriter Joe Avento, which was published in Wednesday's edition of the newspaper.

 

 

Courtesy of the Johnson City Press

 

By Joe Avento
Press Sports Writer
javento@johnsoncitypress.com

 

Rhys Davies' name is being mentioned along with those of players even casual golf fans know on a first-name basis, guys like Tiger, Phil and Gentle Ben. And when you look at winning college golf tournaments, the East Tennessee State University junior is proving he belongs in such heady company.

 

Davies has won seven tournaments in the past 12 months, something only a handful of college golfers have accomplished. A victory in this week's Carpet Capital Collegiate, where he is the defending champion, would tie him with Tiger Woods for college golf's second-best all-time 12-month run. Woods' incredible record includes eight wins for Stanford as a sophomore in 1995-96.

 

Keith Fergus, who won 19 tournaments for Houston in the 1970s, holds what is believed to be the record for individual victories in a 12-month span. Fergus won nine times from Oct. 26, 1973 to Oct. 23, 1974, including the Southwest Conference Championship and the St. Andrews Invitational in Scotland. He was a first-team All-American three times.

 

This time last year, Davies was just another college golfer, trying to find his way. He had loads of talent and even more potential. He was getting close to winning, having finished second and third in the first two tournaments of the fall.

 

Then something clicked.

 

And it's been clicking ever since.

 


Davies captured the Carpet Capital event at The Farm in Dalton, Ga., for his first collegiate victory. He must have liked how it felt. Since then, he's been on quite a run. His seven wins are already the school record for a career, having broken Garrett Willis' mark of five.

 

"Seven in a year, not bad, is it?" the quietly confident Davies said after his seventh win, last month's Bank of Tennessee Intercollegiate at The Ridges. "It's very pleasing. I hope to keep on going."

 

Davies gets his chance to keep going this week. The Carpet Capital event, with a stellar field, begins Friday and runs through Sunday.

 

"It'll be my first defense in college," the Welshman said. "I like the sound of that, defending champion."

 

Fergus went on to play on the PGA Tour, where he won three times. He then became Houston's golf coach, and recently left that job to pursue a career on the Champions Tour.

 

Before Fergus and Woods, who won 10 times in a two-year collegiate career, only two players are thought to have won as many as seven tournaments in a 12-month period. And you might have heard of the guys who accomplished the feat: Ben Crenshaw and Phil Mickelson.

 

Crenshaw was the first to do it. Playing for Texas, he won seven tournaments during his junior year of 1973. Then, from March 1991 to March 1992 Mickelson won seven times for Arizona State.

 


Woods, Mickelson and Crenshaw have NCAA championships on their resumes.  In fact, of Mickelson's 16 individual wins, three were in the NCAA Championship. Crenshaw won 18 times in three years, and two were national titles. Woods won his final four collegiate tournaments, including the 1996 NCAA Championship at The Honors Course near Chattanooga, a tournament in which ETSU finished third, one stroke ahead of Woods' Stanford team.

 

It's no accident that all three own Masters championships as well.

 

Luke Donald, who played at Northwestern, won 14 times in college, including five tournaments in a row during his senior year. But he never got to seven in any 12-month period. Indiana's Jay Overton won nine times in his collegiate career, including five times as a junior, but never had seven in 12 months.

 

Last year's NCAA player of the year, UNLV's Ryan Moore, won three college tournaments as a senior. As a junior, Moore had one of the best amateur seasons since Bobby Jones' Grand Slam year of 1930, capturing the NCAA Championship, U.S. Amateur, U.S. Public Links and Western Amateur.

 

"Rhys is setting some records for us and doing some big things in college golf," ETSU coach Fred Warren said. "His name is being mentioned in the same breath as some of the greats in college golf and some of the Tour greats.

 

"The interesting part is, like many of them, Rhys is making it look easy at times."

 

Davies displayed his spectacular short game for the home folks last month at the Ridges while becoming the first ETSU player to win the school's tournament and only the second player in the event's eight-year history with three rounds in the 60s. Each time he missed a green he seemingly came up with a magical chip or pitch. He didn't get up and down every time, but he always had a chance.

 


That kind of touch around the greens bodes well for Davies' future, according to Willis, the man whose school victory record Davies surpassed.

 

"Look at the PGA Tour, everybody can hit the ball well," Willis said. "Guys who can save par and eliminate bogeys are the guys who lift the trophy on Sunday."

 

When Davies stepped off the course at  The Farm last November, having secured his first collegiate title, he had learned a few things that would pay dividends the rest of his career. He already knew how to win, having captured a British Boys championship during an illustrious junior career. But this time he learned how to win against top-notch college competition. It confirmed what he already knew deep down. He was good enough to compete -- and win -- against the best players American college golf had to offer.

 

He also figured out the elusive magic formula that separates playing good golf from winning. Sometimes that is a chasm even the most talented ball strikers never traverse.

 

"I think you just need to know how you react in certain circumstances," Davies said. "If you've won once it actually becomes easier to win again. I know how to handle myself in those circumstances, and that's something you can't really teach anybody. You've got to be in that situation before you realize what it's all about."

 

Willis knows a thing or two about winning. The first ETSU player to become a first-team All-American joined Crenshaw as the only players to win their first tournament as a member of the PGA Tour when he captured the 2001 Tucson Open. By then, he had already won his first professional tournament, the Hooters Tour Championship, and the Panama Open. He also won on the Nationwide Tour this year.

 

"They say winning breeds winning," Willis said. "There's a lot of truth to that. It's always just staying in the moment, going out there and taking care of business and not thinking about winning. You have to just go out and hit golf shots. That's been the key to my success when I have won."

 

             By the time Davies' sophomore year ended, his 70.54 stroke average was thought to be a record for a second-year Division I player since it surpassed Woods' sophomore average of 70.67 at Stanford. But Donald had already broken that mark at Northwhestern, and Davies was a fraction of a stroke higher.

 

           "It's pretty amazing what he's done so far," Willis said. "Obviously, if he can keep it up, he has a chance to be one of the better players to ever play college golf."

 

Like Davies and Willis said, once you've won once, it's easier to win again. It also increases the burden to do it again ... and again.

And now every time he tees it up, Davies expects to at least have a chance. Such expectations come with the kind of streak on which he has been, a streak a select few collegiate golfers have experienced.

 

"If you finish anything but first, it is a little bit of a disappointment," he said.

The sports information departments at ETSU, Stanford, Houston, Texas and Arizona State helped compile the statistics found in this article. Mark Laesch of golfstat.com also provided some of the research.

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