Rhys Davies returns to a happy hunting ground at Gloria Golf Club this week as he bids to win a second Turkish Airlines Challenge in three seasons.
The Welshman triumphed in 2015 on the Old Course in Belek, the first of two victories in a memorable season that ultimately ended in him graduating to the European Tour through the top 15 of the Road to Oman Rankings.
Last season did not quite go as planned for the 31 year old but, though this year’s tournament is on the New Course, he is hopeful of using his experience of Turkey two years ago to his advantage.
“I’ve got very fond memories,” he said. “Obviously it was a couple of years ago, and we’re playing on the other course this year, but I remember the resort being fantastic and the facilities are really top notch.
“It might be the New Course this year but the style will be very much the same I’m sure, and it’s always nice to go back to places where you’ve had success in the past.”
That victory two seasons ago was also notable for his caddie – his wife Deirdre was on the bag, with the two having wed the previous year, and her presence proved a good omen again a few months later when she again caddied for him during his win at the Fred Olsen Challenge de España.
“She did a great job,” he said. “Unfortunately she’s not likely to be there this time but we really enjoyed it a couple of years ago, and it was the first time we’d won a tournament together, so that made it extra special.”
Davies, a four-time winner on the Challenge Tour, showed his class once again at the season-opening Barclays Kenya Open last month, putting himself in contention before ultimately finishing in a tie for fifth.
The Road to Oman is long – 27 events across 21 countries – but the benefit of a fast start, as Davies exemplified with his win in Turkey two years ago, can be enormous in establishing the momentum to earn European Tour graduation come November.
“It is important, of course it is,” he said. “You can’t really look into it too much that way because all you can really do is play well that particular week or that particular round – I know it’s an old cliché but the season is so long that all I focus on is to contend to win a tournament every week, and I believe if I do that often enough that will put me where I need to be.
“That said, a win can have a huge effect early on. A win always gives you confidence and that’s key, especially in a long, difficult season like this one, so if you can build your game throughout the season that’s always going to help.
“I think the tournaments this year look strong, the schedule looks strong and the competition will be very tough, so it’s important to play well whenever you can and if that means getting off to a fast start again like two years ago then that will be great.
“My game is good. Kenya was the first tournament I played in probably about four months, since Q-School, so on those grounds I was really pleased with how it went.“It’s great to have settled back into the competitive side of tournament golf again so quickly and hopefully I can keep that going in Turkey again this week.”