On Top, Down Under

Cam Davis (far right) and his fellow players from New Zealand and Australia take a break during the 2014 Sahalee Players Championship. (Photo courtesy Shane McTaggart)

Sahalee's Cameron Davis comes out of nowhere to win Australian Open

Look at the names engraved on the Australian Open trophy - Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson, Greg Norman, Gary Player, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth. The impressive list goes on.

Now, if you would, please add the name of one Cameron Davis, a 22-year-old wet-behind-the-ears rookie who came from behind in the final round to overtake Jason Day and defending champion Spieth to win the 2017 Australian Open last November.

Prior to the win, Davis, who turned pro in October 2016, had failed to keep his card on the Mackenzie Tour Canada and had not had a single top-10 finish in any professional event on any tour, anywhere.

"I've seen everything on TV, seen guys win this tournament." a still shell-shocked Davis said. "You never think you're going to be there."

So, how did he get here?

The native of Sydney, Australia had an impressive record as an amateur, winning the 2012 China Amateur and the 2015 Australian Amateur.

But probably what had the most impact on his career was playing in the 2014 Sahalee Players Championship in Sammamish, Wash. He finished ninth, which is good, but not great.

What else happened during that week at Sahalee Country Club?

"I met a girl," Davis says, with a smile.

Cameron Davis
Cameron Davis (photo courtesy Australian Open Golf)

Indeed he did. Shane McTaggart, a native of Australia and a member at Sahalee, is known as the "Aussie Mama" who finds housing for the young players coming from Down Under to compete in the annual Sahalee Players Championship.

"These basically are young kids," McTaggart says. "For Cam, this was the first time he'd been out of the country. I help them settle in, and they use my house as a place to hang out."

McTaggart always hosts a barbecue during the week of the championship. And it was at the 2014 barbecue that Davis met Jonika Melcher, the daughter of McTaggart's hairdresser, and that pretty much was it.

Davis soon moved to Issaquah, Wash. to be with Jonika, and has quickly assimilated to his new home base. His favorite sporting team is not the Sydney Rays rugby club, but the Seattle Seahawks.

"Whenever he's in town, he plays here almost every day," said Jim Pike, Sahalee's general manager. "He's also been very helpful with our junior clinics during the summers." And in March 2017, Davis was named an honorary member at Sahalee, one of only six to be given that distinction.

Following his win at the Australian Open, Sahalee's members held a reception at the club on December 14 in his honor.

The win has opened several doors for Davis, who is ambidextrous and swings as impressively from the left side as he does from the right. He earned exemption into the 2018 British Open, his world ranking rocketed from No. 1494 in the world to No. 229, and he recently earned conditional status on the Web.com Tour, just below the PGA TOUR.

The young man is a world-shaker, now emanating from the Pacific Northwest.

- Tom Cade, Editor