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Rhys Davies to be 'the new Ian Woosnam' - Brian Huggett

Rhys Davies with the Hassan II Trophy
Davies is the first Welsh European Tour winner since Bradley Dredge in 2006

Brian Huggett says compatriot Rhys Davies can follow Ian Woosnam as another great of Welsh golf.

"Rhys' victory was fantastic," said ex-Ryder Cup captain Huggett, 73, after Davies claimed the Hassan II Trophy in Morocco, his maiden European Tour win.

"For the first couple of years as a professional he found it difficult but that may not have been a bad thing.

"He has every chance of following in the footsteps of Ian Woosnam and becoming our next golfing superstar."

Bridgend's Davies, 24, is in his first full year on the main Tour, having graduated from the Challenge Tour.

He was in contention throughout the Malaysian Open the week before the Morocco event, eventually finishing third.

The big thing to do is to try to break intro world's top 50

Rhys Davies

Then, in Rabat, he shot a final round 66 to overcome a three-shot deficit and claim the £207,666 first prize.

"I've put a lot of work in and it's great when it all pays off," Davies, who turned professional in September 2007, told BBC Sport Wales.

"I was really focused the whole day and didn't give a lot of thought to what was going on all around.

"The first win is obviously very special and I hope it is the first of many."

The former Brynteg Comprehensive School pupil, who will hope to continue his fine vein of form at this week's Andalucia Open in Malaga, enjoyed an outstanding amateur career in college golf in the USA.

He combined his golf with a business degree at East Tennessee University, where local media called him "the best player to ever play" at the college.

In his final year there in 2007 Davies extended his own ETSU record for career individual titles to 10 and became the first UK player to reach number one in America since Graeme McDowell achieved the feat in 2002 while at Alabama State.

Davies would not be drawn on his chances of becoming a Ryder Cup player in Wales ahead of the October event at Newport's Celtic Manor.


"The big thing to do is to try to break intro world's top 50," said Davies, who is now up to 81st in the world rankings.

"That allows you to break into the big tournaments globally where there are more ranking points and Ryder Cup points available.

"I have to keep working hard to try to break into that bracket.

"I always put the most pressure on myself, so I haven't worried about what others thought of me, good or bad."

The opinion of six-time Ryder Cup player Huggett is certainly positive.

"I watched all of Rhys' Morocco win and he played absolutely brilliantly," said Huggett, who, at the Belfry in 1977, became the last man to captain the Great Britain and Ireland side before the rest of Europe was brought into the Ryder Cup.

Brian Huggett in action in 1978
He has such a wonderful stroke that it reminded me a lot of the putting stroke of Ben Crenshaw

Brian Huggett

"It was a fantastic win and the way he put it all together was so memorable.

"He was solid, he never flinched, went straight at the pin all the time and his winning total for his first European Tour win was a bit special.

"He was so cool in the final round, attacked all the time and his putting stroke was just absolutely brilliant.

"He has such a wonderful stroke that it reminded me a lot of the putting stroke of Ben Crenshaw. If he putts for 25 to 30 years like Crenshaw did, he should do all right!

"I played with Rhys about five years ago in Harlech and I did an interview on BBC television after the round and I was so impressed with him. He was absolutely terrific for his age then.

"However, for the first couple of years as a professional he found it difficult but, in some ways, that might not have been a bad thing for him and his career development as he knows how difficult it can be on Tour but now, the form he had a few years ago is coming back."

Huggett welcomed the first Welsh winner of a Tour event since Bradley Dredge in 2006.

"For Wales to have a winner on Tour was absolutely tremendous because we've been a bit stagnant in the past couple of years," he said.

"You have to say now I suppose that he has an outside chance of making the Ryder Cup team, but we shouldn't push him too hard and expect too much of him... let's wait and see."

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see also
Welshman Davies earns maiden win
21 Mar 10 |  Golf
Davies claims second in Thailand
08 Mar 09 |  Golf
Wales' Davies turns professional
12 Sep 07 |  Golf
Davies counts down to pro switch
16 Jun 07 |  Golf
Davies eyes pros after US Open
16 Jun 07 |  Golf
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales
Golf on the BBC
01 Jul 11 |  Golf

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