Rhys Davies is confident he can handle the pressure of being one of the home favourites at this week’s ISPS Wales Open, a tournament which has never been won by a Welshman.
The 27 year old was second here two years ago – the season he made his breakthrough on The European Tour – thanks to a nine under par 62 in the last round, and he is excited to be back at The Celtic Manor Resort as he goes in search of his second European Tour title.
“If you play professional sport, you're used to dealing with pressures all the time, whether it's simple first-tee anxieties or coming down the stretch of a tournament or whatever,” said Davies, who has one top ten finish so far this season.
“It's part of the job in a sense and something that I really enjoy. As for the expectations, I thrive on it. I would much rather play in an environment like this. It's great to have familiar faces watching and some home support, so I really look forward to it.”
Welsh players have come close to winning the tournament in the past, with Bradley Dredge coming tied second in 2007 and Ian Woosnam finishing tied third in 2000, and Davies is keen to end the wait for a home champion.
“I came close a couple of years ago, and Bradley Dredge was very close a few years before me, and Woosie as well, so we are knocking on the door and I'm sure it won't be too long hopefully until a Welshman picks up the trophy,” he said.
“Whenever you play your national tournament, you definitely have that little extra enthusiasm, a little bit more excitement about the place. You want to win it, and you have to be careful of sometimes not trying too hard or wanting to win it too much.
“You have to treat it like a normal event, but you're definitely more excited and looking forward to it.”
Davies added: “I always expect to do well. I go out there to play well and to produce some low scores. I don't always expect to shoot 62, but you go out there and look to shoot some low scores. Hopefully I can push on again this week.
“I came back from a long way behind on the last day two years ago. I came from pretty much nowhere to finish right at the top. That was a really exciting day.”