Amidst an­nounce­ments that Aus­tralia’s high­est ranked play­ers won’t be tee­ing it up at The Lakes, the news that Cameron Davis is re­turn­ing to Aus­tralia to de­fend his 2017 ti­tle came as wel­come news for tour­na­ment or­gan­is­ers. The New South Welsh­man is set to ar­rive di­rectly from the PGA Tour’s event in Mex­ico and skip an­other of the cru­cial early sea­son events for newly minted Tour mem­bers like him­self.

“At this stage in my ca­reer it’s very tough to give up any starts out there,” Davis ex­clu­sively told Golf Aus­tralia mag­a­zine of miss­ing the RSM Clas­sic. “It’s been what you’ve sort of been work­ing to­wards your whole life to get to the point where you’ve got plenty of them lined up in front of you. But for me it wasn’t too dif­fi­cult a de­ci­sion.

“I mean first of all just play­ing in Aus­tralia in front of a home crowd, I don’t get the op­por­tu­nity too of­ten through­out the year … But also, de­fend­ing a tour­na­ment like that. It would be pretty hard to give up an op­por­tu­nity like that.”

Davis’ ex­cite­ment as he pre­pares to de­fend a tour­na­ment for the first time as a pro­fes­sional is un­der­stand­able. But the 23-year-old, who rose al­most 1,400 spots in the world rank­ings in less than 12 months, is aware that tee­ing it up in his na­tional Open will be a very dif­fer­ent prospect this time around. While the lack of some of the big­gest names in Aus­tralian golf won’t take any shine off the event for Davis.

“I can imag­ine early in the week there’s go­ing to be a lit­tle bit more go­ing on, I’m prob­a­bly not go­ing to be quite as quiet,” he said. “This is the po­si­tion I’ve al­ways wanted to be in, it means that I’ve done well and I’ve got the op­por­tu­nity to do well again. I’m ex­cited about it. I’m not ner­vous at all.

“It would be very cool to play against those guys (Adam Scott, Ja­son Day and Marc Leish­man), es­pe­cially back home, but I’m sure they’ve all got very good rea­sons why they’re not play­ing. So I can’t be dis­ap­pointed or an­gry about it be­cause they’ve got their own lives to live as well.

“The fact that they aren’t there this year, ob­vi­ously it’s a few big names that won’t be com­pet­ing, but there’s still go­ing to be a strong field and you need to play your best golf if you want to get over the line.”

De­spite the dearth of lo­cal su­per­stars, the field has been boosted by the in­clu­sion of a num­ber of Amer­i­cans, in­clud­ing Matt Kuchar, Kee­gan Bradley and Brandt Snedeker, who have all spent time in­side the top-10 in the world rank­ings dur­ing their ca­reer.

Bradley and Snedeker, run­ner-up to Craig Parry at The Aus­tralian in 2007, are both 2018 PGA Tour win­ners and should be in­stalled as two of the favourites, while Kuchar sits 13th on the PGA Tour’s ca­reer earn­ings list.

Of the lo­cal play­ers, Cameron Smith will be chief among Davis’ chal­lengers. The Queens­lan­der is set to tee it up at the Open, World Cup and Aus­tralian PGA, where he will de­fend and be joined by Davis, who plans on fol­low­ing in his name­sake’s foot­steps go­ing for­ward when it comes to sup­port­ing tour­na­ments at home.

“I want to make a point of com­ing back home ev­ery year. I’ve grown up just want­ing to be a part of that golf tour­na­ment (the Aus­tralian Open) and the Aus­tralian PGA as well,” Davis said.

“I feel like it’s pretty cool to play in front of friends and fam­ily, and play­ing in your home Open there’s some­thing about it, I just want to be a part of it.”

Cameron Davis will forgo a PGA Tour start to de­fend his ti­tle won at The Aus­tralian in 2017.

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