Davis the drawcard at Ballina Pro-Am
By ADAM HICKS
RODGER DAVIS' sand bucket won't have any fag ends in it when he plays the Ramada Ballina Golf Club Pro-Am on Saturday, but his plus-fours might be a bit tighter.
The former British Open runner-up hasn't had a smoke since visiting a hypnotherapist 16 weeks ago and while he says it hasn't helped his belt size, it hasn't hurt his form.
Speaking on his way to lunch at the Tugun Rugby League Club yesterday, Davis said he had just recorded a seven-under par, one shot off the course record, at Lakelands on the Gold Coast.
"I'm just warming up for Ballina," he said with a laugh.
At 56, Davis is old enough to qualify for the 2007 Australian PGA Seniors Championship at Byron Bay in December, but this weekend he will be teeing off against some of the best young talent on the Queensland PGA Tour.
"It's just a bit of fun," he said.
"This is my first time at Ballina; I have no idea what to expect but I'm looking forward to it. I don't play much real serious stuff these days, but when I get out there I still try to win."
The former Australian Open and Australian Masters champion will be among 70 professionals, including Ossie Moore, playing for the $10,000 professional's purse.
"In a one-day sprint you just have to go for your shots," Davis said.
Davis agreed to play in the pro-am after being contacted by Ballina Golf Club professional Trevor Russell, who played in tournaments against him in the 1970s.
"Rodger is predominately playing on senior circuits but he is still talented enough to be extremely competitive," Russell said.
"We have some of the best young players on tour at the moment (playing at the pro-am)
"With the quality of the young players you will have to be playing really well to win.
"I won't be surprised if he (Davis) gives them a real shake."
Russell said Davis would be a big drawcard for spectators.
"He will attract fans because he was one of the trendsetters (of 1980s golf)," he said.
"He went back and wore plus-fours (tapered trousers into long socks).
"He became identified. It made him stand out. But to wear those you have be able to play pretty good.
"Rodger has a name that older people, in particular, can relate to.
"He has been known for a number of years for being competitive in a number of tournaments.
"He has a very high profile because of the standard of golf he's played over the years."
Even with the fans behind him, Davis will have to record a high score to get on the leader board.
"The course is absolutely sensational at the moment," Russell said.
"With the storms and rain we've had, it is the best we've presented for quite some time.
"I expect we'll see some red-hot scores.
"I nearly expect the course record to go off."
The 18-hole Ramada Ballina Golf Club Pro-Am starts at 7am, when the morning field tees off.
The afternoon field, including Davis and Moore, will tee off at 12 noon.