AFTER a year of golfing success for Llanwern youngster Jack Davidson, the 20-year-old has joined the professional ranks as he aims to challenge at a higher level, writes Jay Bayford.

But just under a year ago, his targets were less ambitious.

“As an amateur, everybody wants to play in the Walker Cup,” he said.

“But the position I was in 12 months ago, I wasn’t really a close call for it, so my aim was to get inside the top 100 in the world rankings and then try and push for a Walker Cup spot.

“I knew I could do it if I played well. I knew I had the game to do it.”

And the year got off to a flying start with a third-placed finish at the South American Amateur Championship.

Further success was just around the corner with victories at the Spanish International Amateur Championship and the European Nations Cup – along with the team title for Wales at the latter.

Davidson continued to build his reputation over the summer months but suffered a blip in form at the British and European amateur championships, which put pressure on him ahead of the Welsh Amateur Championship.

“The Welsh amateur was a big week for me because I was speaking to my coach a couple of weeks before it and we knew I had to win, so we put a lot of work in,” he added.

“It’s probably the hardest I worked all year.

“So winning it in the fashion I did was very pleasing.

“It was probably the key point in my Walker Cup selection.”

If Davidson’s dominant 8&7 victory over Tim Harry in the Welsh final hadn’t guaranteed his place in the Walker Cup, his performances in the Men’s Home Internationals certainly did.

“I won all three of my singles matches, which was big because I knew I was playing against people that were also in contention for the Walker Cup,” he said.

“The Walker Cup captain was at the Home Internationals and he told me on the last day that I was in the team.”

At this point, Davidson had already thought about going professional, but his Walker Cup experience made that decision even easier.

“It was a different experience,” he continued. “The golf course in Los Angeles was something I’d never seen before, it was perfectly manicured.

“It was once in a lifetime, I don’t think I’ll ever experience anything like that unless I play in the Ryder Cup.

“Turning pro was always in the back of my mind throughout the year but playing in the Walker Cup influenced it massively.

“I decided to turn pro mid-season because I’d signed with a management group, Wasserman, who had planned for me to turn pro at the end of the year, so it all just fell perfectly into place.”

It’s been a mixed start to life as a pro for Davidson with disappointing showings at the Portugal Masters and KLM Open, but he got through the first stage of the European Tour Qualifying School, and flies out to Alicante next week for the second stage.

“I’m feeling good,” he said. “I’ve been given a good golf course, Las Colinas, Alicante, which suits my game.

“It’s going to be another tough week. But it’s a different week because you haven’t got to win it to get through, you’ve just got to play pretty solid and everything should be fine.”

Davidson’s unsure as to what lies ahead for him in his new adventure as a pro, with the immediate future linked to his performances at Q School.

“Obviously the aim is to get a Tour card at Q School, so for now I’m just focusing on that and next year will be a different year, but I’m not quite sure as to what route I’m going down yet,” he added.

Davidson will begin the second stage of Q School next Friday with the hope of making it through to the final qualifying stage, which will get under way on November 11.

Meanwhile, Celtic Manor’s Josh Davies, who followed Davidson into the professional ranks, tied for seventh place in the TP Tour event at East Berkshire.

He finished with a level-par 69, three shots behind winner Daniel Gaunt, with his card boasting four birdies, a bogey and a triple bogey seven – that seventh followed a tie for fifth at West Hill.