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Beach boy Rhys in big Ryder bid.

Byline: Anthony Woolford

RHYS Davies has admitted the Ryder Cup in Wales is a tempting prospect as he looks to make the automatic qualifying places at the US Open this week.

The 25-year-old from Bridgend has enjoyed a glittering rookie year on the European Tour and the staggering pounds 852,645 accrued in prize money in 2010 means he trails World Cup winning Italian golfer Francesco Molinari by just pounds 31,000 for the final automatic qualifying berth on the money list.

And, heading into tonight's US Open first round at Pebble Beach, Davies knows if he can transfer his outstanding 2010 in Europe across the Pond, he could well find himself in the automatic qualifying places for the Celtic Manor come Sunday night.

"It would be a dream come true for a Welshman to make the Ryder Cup team," added Davies, who will have close pal, Spaniard Pablo Martin, plus Aussie Aaron Baddeley as playing partners for the opening two rounds at Pebble Beach.

"It would be amazing for the country and for Welsh golf, but this European Ryder Cup team has the makings of being the best and with that comes the difficulty of getting onto that team.

"You only have to look at the top of the world rankings and see how many of our players are there to see how tough European golf is at the moment.

"It's going to be a great team whoever is on it and a successful one as well.

"I have to admit the rankings and money lists show that I'm closer to the Ryder Cup team than I was at the start of the year and that shows I'm getting better.

"I can look forward now to all the top events in the world and playing against the best players in the world.

"I don't see myself gauging how far I've come at Pebble Beach because you always aware golf can come back and bite you if things don't go your way.

"I'm not putting an overly amount of pressure on myself and I just want to continue in the same vein as I have this season.

"I need to play some top-class golf and have that little bit of luck along the way and I'm going to Pebble Beach hoping to have both of them on my side."

After spending last weekend playing some former US Open courses in the San Francisco region, Davies headed south down to Monterey Bay for a first look at Pebble Beach.

And American caddie Mark Maso has been a massive help in helping Davies plot his way around one of the world's most visually stunning layouts.

Boston-based Maso is a Pebble Beach veteran having caddied for another East Tennessee State University golfing luminary, Garrett Willis, on the PGA Tour there.

And Maso has been a rock for Davies ahead of teeing off his first round tonight (9.14pm).

"Mark has worked the Pebble Beach pro-am and, though the course is set up differently, he knows his way around well," said Davies.

"His knowledge this week has really helped me learn the course and getting the lines of shots I need to hit around here.

"Mark has been a big part in my success and we've only been working together just over a year now and we make a good team.

"His work ethic is exemplary, he learns golf courses very quickly and we discuss tactics and we get one very well together. He ticks all the right boxes."

The bond struck up in those 14 months, that's taken Davies to 45th in the world rankings and onto the brink of Ryder Cup selection, is set to be stretched to the limit around a Pebble Beach course bearing its teeth.

Long rough, lightning quick small greens and potential coastal winds will test even the most hardened of professionals let alone a European Tour rookie just in his third year in the paid ranks.

CAPTION(S):

Rhys Davies hits a tee shot during a practice round at Pebble Beach
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jun 17, 2010
Words:674
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