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Last Updated: Monday, 13 December 2004, 17:37 GMT
American dream dawns for Davis
By Matt Slater
Golf editor

While most British golfers like to spend their winters in the clubhouse wielding little more than a whisky, there are some who choose the golfing equivalent of eight rounds with Vitali Klitschko.

Brian Davis opted for the latter, and unlike boxer Danny Williams he came home with more than just bruises.

BRIAN DAVIS FACTFILE
Brian Davis celebrates winning Q-School
1974 Born in Camberley, Surrey
1992 Wins prestigious Peter McEvoy Trophy as amateur
1994 Turns pro, plays on US Challenge tour
1996 Second in European Tour School, earns card
2000 First title, the Spanish Open
2002 Marries Julie Clemence, finishes 2nd during honeymoon
2003 Claims 11 top-10 finishes, 9th on Order of Merit
2004 Wins ANZ Championship, wins US Tour School
The 30-year-old from Camberley can now look forward to a future on the world's most lucrative golf circuit, America's PGA Tour.

You will see replays of Colin Montgomerie's Ryder Cup-winning putt more often over the coming years, but, in terms of British achievement on American soil, Davis' win at the Tour Qualifying School was no less heroic.

"Q-School golf is totally different to playing a normal tournament," says Davis.

"It is a gruelling experience and you just can't make a mistake. There is no tomorrow - you have to wait another year."

Having arrived in California determined to make up for missing the Ryder Cup team, Davis turned off his phone, shut out the world and concentrated on earning his US Tour card.

"When I won the ANZ Championship (in February 2004) I came off the course elated and wanted to phone everybody," he remembers.

"When I won the Tour School I was too tired to even smile. I just wanted to get into my car and get back to the apartment."

While Davis would not advocate the qualifying school route for earning your playing privileges, he has an excellent track record in these six-round wars of attrition.

As a teenager, Davis won the first stage of the US qualifying process in Florida only to let his inexperience get the better of him at the next stage. And in 1996 he finished second at the European Tour's qualifying event.

"They've been good to me, although I should have won in 1996! But it's not something I want to do regularly."

Many will wonder why Davis bothered in the first place - after all, he has made a more than reasonable living on the European Tour over the last eight years. The simple answer is ambition.

Brian Davis
I'm not the kind of golfer that only wants to play one type of golf - I want to play everywhere
The PGA Tour is world golf's most competitive circuit because it offers the biggest rewards. The 100th player on the US money list last year earned more than Davis, who finished 31st on the European Order of Merit.

But Davis, like most professionals, measures success in far more subjective ways than simply accruing a fortune.

Winning tournaments around the world, playing in elite events, making the big teams - that is what fires his imagination.

"Missing the Ryder Cup was a huge disappointment," he says.

"After that the next goal was getting my card. So I think I have won twice this year (the ANZ Championship and Q-School).

"Would I be satisfied if my career ended now? No.

"I'm proud of the things I've achieved - I've won, I've represented my country, I've got married (to Julie, the daughter of former England goalkeeper Ray Clemence) and had a beautiful son (Oliver) - but there are a million goals for next year."

Thanks to his Q-School win, Davis has earned a place in the first eight events of 2005 - the so-called West Coast Swing of Hawaii, California and Arizona.

Brian Davis with the ANZ Championship trophy
Davis won his second pro title at the ANZ Championship earlier this year
Davis knows that if he is to keep his US and European cards in 2006, he is going to have to play more golf than ever before. Winning early would make life much easier.

"When you come out of tour school you have to play in whatever events you can. It looks like I'm playing eight or nine weeks in a row at the start of the season, and will play something like 36 events for the year, which is astronomical," he says.

"I would never play that much in Europe. But with most of those eight being in California, you can just jump in a car and be at the next event in three or four hours."

Davis knows that an early win would enable him to pick and choose his events, and avoid the risk of burn-out.

Davis will also be aiming to return to the world's top-64 so he can play in the WGC-Accenture Match Play, which completes the West Coast Swing.

After that the PGA Tour is re-ranked and any player who has yet to make his mark will find tournament invites harder to come by.

"The rest of my season depends on those weeks before the re-ranking," he says.

"I'm planning to start my European campaign at the Portuguese Open at the end of March, but if I get into the Players Championship and the Masters I would have to look at my schedule again.

"The year I finished ninth on the Order of Merit (2003) I played a hell of a lot. But I was playing well so it's a lot easier. If you're struggling and have to play 30 events or more it can be a real haul."

The greens over there are like trying to pitch a ball onto the M25
Brian Davis on US courses
While he admits to being worried that his wife and son will drag him to Disneyworld every week - the family will be based in Orlando - Davis cannot wait to tackle the PGA Tour.

Always blessed with a good short game, Davis has added length and accuracy from the tee in recent years. But the biggest improvement to his game - and one that will be rigorously examined - is his approach play.

"The greens over there are like trying to pitch a ball onto the M25," he says.

"You've got to have spin control over the ball, and you have to know that you can't just fire at the pin, even if you have a nine-iron in your hands."

Davis - a two-time winner on the European Tour - certainly has the game and mentality to succeed in the States, as his 13th-place finish at the USPGA in August demonstrated.

The PGA Tour, however, is a tough nut to crack, particularly for a player keen to play a dozen European Tour events as well.

Time will tell whether the likes of Ernie Els and Retief Goosen will have to admit another player to their global golfer club, but Davis is determined to enjoy himself trying.


SEE ALSO
Davis snatches ANZ title
15 Feb 04 |  Golf
Davis targets elite
15 Dec 03 |  Golf


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