Davies savours "surreal" maiden victory

3/25/2010 4:57:42 PM
Rhys Davies  (Getty Images)
Rhys Davies (Getty Images)

Rhys Davies secured his maiden European Tour title at the Trophée Hassan II in Morocco as he overhauled Louis Oosthuizen to win by two shots.

The 24 year old Welshman was two behind the South African going into the final round, but shot a seven under 66 to Oosthuizen’s 70 at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam to finish 25 under.

The Challenge Tour graduate, who chose to take up golf professionally instead of cricket, earns €229,160 for his victory.

It completes a remarkable year for the former British boys champion, who a year ago by his own admission had “no status in Europe”.

Victory at last year’s SWALEC Wales Open on the Challenge Tour changed all that, and he then captured the Fred Olsen Challenge de España en route to finishing fourth in the rankings and earning his European Tour card.

“I was playing Asian Tour and comfortable and playing well. But I wanted to be part of The European Tour and play with the best players out here,” admitted Davies.

Having come third in the Maybank Malaysian Open and sixth in Abu Dhabi already this season, Davies now climbs to 12th on The Race to Dubai.

“I’m a little bit lost at the moment – this is all completely surreal to me,” said Davies.

“It’s all a bit of a blur. I just kept focusing on hitting the ball as close to the flag as I could and holing every putt and I nearly did just about that.

“I just felt like I could make every putt and I think that was the key. I had a good speed on the greens and when you have a good speed you hole a lot of putts. I had good control of my swing today. It was probably the best I’ve hit it all week.”

For Oosthuizen it was a fourth runners-up finish on The European Tour, while Frenchman Thomas Levet, Spaniard Ignacio Garrido, Finn Mikko Ilonen and another South African Thomas Aiken shared third place five strokes further back.

“I am disappointed, of course. I just struggled with my irons all day,” admitted Oosthuizen, who had shot consecutive rounds of 64 to top the leaderboard going into the final round.

“It just wasn’t happening for me at all with the irons. I didn’t put the ball close enough to the pin in order to give myself chances. Rhys played brilliantly so congratulations to him.”

A bogey on the short second left Davies three behind and facing an uphill task, but walking off the 11th green he had turned that into a one shot lead.

It was already pretty much a two-man fight by then and Oosthuizen's eagle on the next took him back in front.

But Davies rolled in a 22 footer at the 13th and went two ahead when he birdied again on the 206 yard 14th and Oosthuizen bogeyed from the sand.

Victory might have taken Oosthuizen back into the world's top 50 a week before invitations to the Masters Tournament are handed out, but he will now have to try for that again when The European Tour reaches European soil for the first time in 2010 in Malaga this coming week.

Levet completed a satisfying week with a 71 but admits those on the course never had a chance with the last pair out playing so well.

“I feel like I’ve won the tournament between the rest of the guys because the two in front were not playing real golf - they were unbelievable,” he said.

Davies is the first Welsh winner on The European Tour since Bradley Dredge in 2006, but refused to be drawn on suggestions he could make it into Colin Montgomerie’s Ryder Cup side at The Celtic Manor Resort in October.

“No that’s way out of my equation at the moment,” he added. “I don’t know, this is the first win – hopefully the first of a few – and it’s such a really cool atmosphere and very special and I’m just going to enjoy this.”