Wales’ Rhys Davies, who narrowly missed out on qualifying for The 2010 Ryder Cup, has spoken of his honour and pride at being asked by Captain Colin Montgomerie to fulfil the role of Europe’s ‘13th man’.
At Valhalla two years ago Germany’s Martin Kaymer gained some crucial experience of life behind the scenes at The Ryder Cup, and Davies is hoping to following in the footsteps of the German wunderkind, who like the Welshman earned his place on The European Tour through the Challenge Tour.
Davies, who graduated in third place in the 2009 Challenge Tour Rankings, captured his maiden European Tour title at the Trophée Hassan II, before coming close to doubling his tally at The Celtic Manor Wales Open.
His 12 under par aggregate total saw Davies finish three shots behind Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell, who is making the second Ryder Cup appearance of his career this week.
And having shot a course record round of 62 on the final day, Davies is better placed than most to dispense advice on how to master the Twenty Ten Course.
He said: “There was a Team meeting on Monday night when I was briefed on what is expected of me. I’ve heard it described as the ‘13th man’, and I’ll happily give any input that is asked of me. I know the lines on quite a few of the putts, but I’m also here to watch and learn, to soak up the experience and enjoy it.
“Martin Kaymer had a similar role – I’ve spoken to him about it, and he said it had a real impact on his drive and desire to play in the tournament in the future. It’s obviously worked out well for him, and if something similar can happen to me then that would be fantastic.
“I definitely feel that it’s a role I’ve earned. I was pushing hard to make the Team and eventually came up short, but that was mostly down to fantastic play from some of the other guys. I see this opportunity as a reward, and one that I’m going to grasp and really enjoy.
“I’ve obviously never stood on the first Tee of a Ryder Cup before, but everyone says it’s really nerve-wracking and really loud. It’s a new experience for me, and one that I’m not going to forget.”
As well as advancing his own career prospects, Davies also views this Ryder Cup as an opportunity to showcase what his native Wales has to offer to the rest of the golfing world.
He said: “Seeing the tournament hosted in Wales is very special, and I definitely think we need to take the opportunity to stand up as a country and shout about what we’ve got. I’ve played events in the US and there has been a lot of talk about Wales hosting The Ryder Cup. I think it has been marketed and broadcast very well, and it’s a really great thing for Wales and the Welsh people for the country to host the biggest team event in golf.”