MURRELLS INLET, S.C. (March 12, 2007) - While he posted 17 pars and just one birdie during the third and final round, his 1-under-par 71 was still enough for ETSU senior and two-time first-team All-American Rhys Davies (Bridgend, Wales) to capture a record 10th individual championship Monday at the General Hackler Invitational hosted by Coastal Carolina at the TPC of Myrtle Beach.
One day after firing a course record 65 in the second round, Davies - the nation's No. 6 ranked player and a favorite for national player of the year - finished the event with a tournament record score of 10-under 206, besting Lamar's Dawie Van Der Walt by one stroke. Though Davies managed to finish ahead of the competitive field, Lamar's 26-under-par team effort was too much for any other squad to overcome, as the Cardinal took a 10-stroke win over host Coastal Carolina. The No. 10-ranked Buccaneers, who won this event a year ago, ended the tournament with a respectable fifth place finish at 5-over-par.
"Obviously, I've found something that's working right now," said Davies, who has now won back-to-back tournaments thanks to a win last week in the Seminole Intercollegiate. "I wasn't playing as well as I had yesterday afternoon, but I tried to play sensibly and controlled. I was able to maintain my lead and the birdie on 16 proved to be quite important."
After his birdie on 18, Davies faced the final hole of the day, a Par 5 that challenges players with a second shot over water from more than 240 yards out. Learning that he had a two-stroke lead over the players behind him, Davies decided not to take a chance with his second shot, choosing to lay up, pitch to the green and two-putt for par.
"I thought I might as well try to make a birdie the old fashioned way," Davies said. "I really don't concern myself with other players or the score for most of the round. But knowing where I was on 18, it was the smart play."
Indeed, Davies course management paid off.
"He just refused to make a bogey and managed his round very well," said ETSU head coach Fred Warren. "On a lot of holes he kept his patience and played very smart. This is a field with a lot of great players in it, which makes this win special. And with 10 career wins, Rhys has put himself in a select group of players. Only a handful of collegiate golfers have ever won this much at the Division I level."
As for other ETSU results, sophomore Gareth Shaw (Lisburn, Northern Ireland) emerged once again as a strong contributor to the Bucs' efforts, finishing tied for 13th after posting rounds of 75-69-70. Meanwhile, freshman Seamus Power (
Davies continues to see the potential of his teammates and believes there is a bright future for the Bucs this season. Of course, this weekend it was just Lamar's turn to play at the highest of levels.
"Lamar really played fantastically well on what is not an easy course," Davies said. "The scores they were producing were impressive. But we're getting closer as a team, and when all five of us start playing well at the same time, we think something special can happen."
The Bucs will enjoy a 17-day break before returning to action March 30 in the Administaff/Augusta State Invitational in