Date: November 15, 2018
Author: Mark Hayes

Jelly-legged Davis rides out early nightmare

Cameron Davis had a year to think about his Stonehaven Cup defence, but never in his wildest nightmare did it start like this.

Davis, the normally unflappable 22-year-old, strode to the first tee at The Lakes feeling a million dollars on return to his hometown on a layout with which he’s eminently familiar.

One wild tee shot and an errant approach later, he walked away with a quadruple-bogey eight.

Not 20 minutes later, he had racked up a double-bogey on the second and bogey on the third as his #AusOpenGolf title defence lay seemingly in tatters.

“At that point, I honestly didn’t know if I’d be able to break 100,” Davis later said with a grin made possible only by virtue of a stellar fightback.

“I’ve never had that feeling on a course that I can remember. Ever. I didn’t have a clue what was going on.”

To his eternal credit, Davis defied extremely testing conditions and drained four birdies to claw to a first-round 76, nine shots adrift of overnight leader Ben An, of Korea.

“I hung in there well. To be honest, I had no idea what was going on with the first three (holes).

“I was trying really hard … probably trying a bit too hard (and) a little bit nervous, obviously.

“As soon as I heard my name on the first tee, legs were a little bit jelly and tried to hit it a little too hard.

“I just needed something to go right, just needed one good shot, one decent hole and make a par or something and then I could kind of keep it going from there.”

A par on the short par-four fourth was the tonic.

“All of a sudden I started hitting a few more greens and got myself a few opportunities to make birdie,” Davis said.

“I knew I had birdie opportunities on the back nine.  Regardless of how hard the wind was blowing or how much the rain was falling, there were opportunities out there.

“So yeah, I'm still disappointed.  I wanted to have a really good round today just like everyone does, but I guess it's a whole lot better than it could have been.”

Davis, who’s already made a trademark of being seemingly nerveless in tight situations with wins in his national championship and on the Web.Com Tour in the past 12 months, admitted to new nerves.

“I was fine until they called my name out and the crowd was cheering.

“All of a sudden it was a completely different feel.  I was just fine up until that point, and it's just something you never get used to, I guess.”

One thing Davis has learnt well in his short professional career to date is that you’re never out of a tournament until you’re in the car on the way home.

In his pre-tournament press conference and again after his round, Davis reiterated his thoughts that perfect golf is almost unattainable and that, therefore, he was still a chance to defend his crown.

“People have had rounds like this before and still won tournaments,” he said.

“The only way I'm going to win is not thinking about it, not trying too hard and overpower things and just letting them happen.

“The more I can … just forget that I've had a bad round and just go out there again and try and shoot a really good score three days in a row, you never know what happens.”