Cameron Davis, one of Australian golf’s hottest properties, is turning professional.
Davis will join the paid ranks at next week’s Isuzu Queensland Open and soon afterwards with a start on the US PGA Tour.
The 21-year-old Sydneysider is changing status a day after reaching a career-high No.4 in the world amateur rankings, a perfect time to make the transition.
“I’ve gone up in the rankings a little bit with some recent performances and been getting noticed a bit more for my golf in different places, so in terms of opportunities around the world, I think now is the best time,” Davis said with typical understatement.
“I didn’t necessarily have all the results I wanted in the American summer, but all the stats are telling me I’m ready to go and finally the results in the past few weeks have shown that, too.”
Davis won the 2015 Australian Amateur Championship, but had last summer ruined by a hand injury that kept him out for several months. But after rehab, the results have come with a rush for the tall right-hander who led his New South Wales team to a pulsating victory in the Interstate Series in Brisbane in May, then played with distinction in both Europe and North America, including a course record at Rowallan Castle in Scotland.
But his most decisive moment came at one of the most important times imaginable for any aspiring amateur. Davis was nothing short of sensational in churning out an individual score of -17 in Mexico to spearhead Australia’s domination of the Eisenhower Trophy, leading his nation to a stunning 19-shot triumph and the world team championship.
His winning personal total was also good enough to earn him a start, as either amateur or professional, in November’s OHL Classic at the same venue as two of his magical Mexican rounds, Mayakoba.
That his professional debut will also come at The Brisbane Golf Club, where he shone in May, and then continue at another happy hunting ground in Mexico just helped convince Davis the time was right, especially after his bold showing at last week’s Asia-Pacific Amateur, when he followed a second in 2015 with a fourth placing.
“It will be totally different set-up on the courses and different pressures, for sure. But I have seen a lot of putts drop in on those courses and seen some good shots, too,” he said.
“I think that will help settle the nerves and if I can play steady golf the way I have been lately, I feel like I won’t be lost out there.
“I continue to learn a lot, even in Korea last week, and hopefully it will all make me a better player.”
Golf Australia high performance director Brad James said Davis’ often-understated ways belied his desire and skill within.
“It’s a great achievement. Cam was identified 4-5 years ago and at that time he was very much under the radar. He certainly had a lot of potential, but he’s worked extremely hard on his pathway,” James said.
“Each year he’s got better and better. Now it’s time for him to transition to the next level and that’s what we’ve been striving for.
“He is certainly a quiet achiever. But at the same time he’s someone who has a lot of inner confidence. The external confidence isn’t something he shows, but deep down he has a great belief in what he’s doing and a great desire to be one of the best players in the world.”
James said the twin Eisenhower triumphs had been no surprise to those who watched him work, including New South Wales national coach Dean Kinney.
“He’s certainly been building to that for about 18 months and I think he’s finally got that inner belief that he belongs at that elite level. Now we’ll see how much those victories will help when he transitions to the pro level and starts competing against the world’s best.
James lauded the NSW team behind not only Davis, but several of his impressive peers.
“What Dean and his service team have implemented over the past 2-3 years and the changes they’ve implemented is really being displayed in the past 12 months at the amateur level and the tier 2 professional level – it’s really showcased their program.”
An emotional Davis was full of praise for his family and those who’ve helped shape his career to this point, dating back to his original coach Jim Ballard at Killara Golf Club and all at the Roseville Golf Club where he first won a club championship at age 13.
“All at Roseville took me in and were very supportive in allowing me to play against the older guys and even in pennants at a young age – that was very important to get that exposure at a higher level when I was so young,” he said.
“Monash (his current club) has been fantastic, too. They’ve shown great understanding of my direction and allowed me to go away and do the things I’ve needed to do to reach this stage.
“I’d also like to give a huge thanks to my coach Khan Pullen, who’s just been unreal. He and Dean have taken my game to another level and I can’t say enough about them as people, not just coaches.
“Everyone at Golf NSW and Golf Australia has been great with all the positive support and feedback they’ve put into me. For them to think I was worth all the time they put into me was unbelievably important and I wouldn’t be here without them.
“I’m very happy to be part of those programs and it’s really overwhelming when you look back and see who played a part in getting me here.”
Davis will drop out of the GA national squad, but become part of the GA rookie squad in 2017.