Whilst winning your first European Tour title is always a landmark moment in any player’s career, what made Rhys Davies’ maiden triumph in the Trophée Hassan II all the more memorable was the man he took down en route to victory.
For Davies’ conquest in 2010 was none other than Louis Oosthuizen, the man who would go on to win that year’s Open Championship at St Andrews by a mere seven shots.
Since then, Oosthuizen has secured a further five European Tour titles and ascended into the upper echelons of the Official World Golf Ranking.
In contrast, Davies has struggled to replicate his form of four years ago and the pair’s contrasting fortunes were brought into sharp focus last week, with Oosthuizen teeing up in the star-studded WGC-Cadillac Championship and the Welshman returning to Challenge Tour duty at the Barclays Kenya Open.
But Davies is hoping a return to the salty air and see breeze of Agadir will help turn round his form and fortunes.
He said: “Even though I won the tournament on the ‘other’ course, the feel of the tournament is very much the same so I’m really looking forward to going back. Hopefully some great memories will inspire me to have a decent week.
“I remember going head to head with Louis on the final day in 2010. We were trading birdies down the stretch, and I think I eventually got my nose in front with about four holes left. The way I played under pressure and the way I handled my emotions was obviously very pleasing. And I got to keep the trophy, so that’s something I’ll always treasure. It’s a unique trophy, which is very appropriate for a unique and wonderful tournament.
“I’d never played on royal grounds before, and I’m sure most of the other players were the same so it was a new experience for everyone when we first arrived. The course is absolutely fantastic and we’re always treated well throughout the week, so it’s no wonder it’s a very popular tournament with a lot of the players.”
None more so than Davies, who came mightily close to successfully defending his title in 2011, only to be beaten by England’s David Horsey in a three-man play-off after the pair and Jaco Van Zyl had all finished on 13 under par.
A similar finish this week would be most welcome for a player who has just fallen outside the top 500 in the World Ranking, and Davies will be hoping the old adage that “form is temporary, class is permanent” rings true as he seeks to resurrect his career.
|T3||CARLSSON, Magnus A||SWE||18||-12|