Cam Davis' emotional winning interview revealed hidden hurt, triumph (2024)

By: Dylan Dethier

Cam Davis' emotional winning interview revealed hidden hurt, triumph (1)

How do you explain it all in a minute?

The ups, the downs, the relief, the sheer disbelief?

There’s a reason that, every couple Sundays, golf produces a particularly memorable winner’s interview. In a solitary sport where competitors not named Scheffler or Korda experience failure far, far more often than success, winning means pulling the cork on an emotional barrel and seeing what pours out. It means finding the center of a maze after weeks, months, years of wandering without promise of success.

Enter Cameron Davis, who was standing on the driving range at Detroit Golf Club on Sunday afternoon when Akshay Bhatia’s shocking 72nd-hole three-putt made him the Rocket Mortgage Classic champion. The win is Davis’ second on the PGA Tour; his first came at the Rocket Mortgage, too, in 2021. And this time he didn’t see it coming.

CBS’ Amanda Balionis found him on the range just moments after the win became official. She asked the logical question: What’s going through your mind?

Davis smiled. He murmured something. He bumped the microphone by accident.

“Sorry,” he said. “From where I was a couple of weeks ago to today, it’s a completely different person.”

That in itself was an interesting turn of phrase; by “completely different person” I’m betting he meant “completely different golfer,” but that’s the agony of professional sports: when you’re all in, especially when things haven’t been going your way, it’s tough to separate one from the other, the person from the golfer. This was Davis’ first top-10 finish since last fall. It clearly came as a relief.

“Y’know, I wouldn’t wish what happened to Akshay on anyone,” he added, referencing the three-putt. “But I’ve done a lot of grinding to get myself out of a hole and to just all of a sudden do that, that’s pretty good.”

Stats guys will tell you that Detroit is a terrific fit for Davis; the fact that he’s now won here twice seems like good supporting evidence, too. But says he’s a different player now than he was then and he credited the win to a new approach, too.

“I mean, I started working with a hypnotherapist a few weeks ago just to take another angle into trying to get myself sorted out and Grace has done an awesome job. I’ve got so many people behind me that help me along the way,” he said. He ticked off some names from his team —Brett, Ralph, Andrew — as people he was grateful to have in his corner.

“Like, I had a lot of support to get me out of the doldrums there. I saw a little bit of a spark last week, but nothing to show this coming. This is crazy.”

An emotional @CamDavisGolf is back in the winner's circle @RocketClassic.

Coming into the week with six straight finishes outside the top 35, he flipped the switch.

— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) June 30, 2024

Thus wrapped the interview. It was a terrific moment, I thought —useful insight into the mindset of the talented but low-key 29-year-old Aussie whose voice we don’t often hear on national TV.

It also came in stark contrast to the pure misery that being in contention can produce. Bhatia, to his credit, faced questions following the heartbreaking three-putt.

“It sucks, no other way to put it,” he told reporters. “Yeah, just a little bit of nerves, honestly. I’m human.”

There was Davis’ countryman Min Woo Lee, a popular young star chasing his first Tour win who failed to get up and down from behind the 18th green and finished one back, tied with Bhatia.

And then there was Cameron Young, Davis’ playing partner, who’s still chasing his first win, too, and has finished runner-up seven times in his Tour career. He was in the mix again on Sunday but clearly feeling the co*cktail of pressure and frustration; it proved too much on the 14th tee, where he snap-hooked his drive and then leaned on his driver so hard the shaft broke. He bogeyed two of his last three holes, finished T6 and didn’t take questions following his round.

Davis explained more in a winner’s press conference.

“Yeah, I honestly haven’t been a very good place mentally at all for the last six months or so,” he said. The urgency of the season was getting to him. “I felt like all the opportunities have been slipping out of my hands as the year progresses without playing very good golf. I had a great week at the Masters and it feels like since then it all had just left me.”

That’s where the hypnotherapy came in. That’s where a new approach has come in. The Tour provides visible heartbreak with some frequency, like Bhatia today or Rory McIlroy at the U.S. Open. But it’s easy to forget the quiet struggle of those guys who are further down the leaderboards than they think they should be. Guys like Davis.

Reflecting back to that win in 2021, Davis rued what could have been.

“I mean, I wanted it to be the start of something special,” he said. “I’m a few years down the track and really haven’t had another opportunity, like, a real opportunity to do it again. So it’s been a very frustrating few years because I see a lot of young guys coming out and winning multiple times and making it happen. To not be one of those guys, especially now I’m almost 30, there are guys out here 21, 22 that are doing things I wish I was doing and had done at their age.”

There it was, all of it, pouring out in the honesty and relief of victory. Winning takes care of everything. This week Davis was a completely different golfer. On Sunday evening he felt like a completely different person.

“It kind of puts a little spark back into — I want to be out here, I want to be winning tournaments,” he said. “All these things that come with winning are so much fun because you know you’ve done something great. To do it again, yeah, it feels pretty special now.”

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Cam Davis' emotional winning interview revealed hidden hurt, triumph (2)

Dylan Dethier Editor

Dylan Dethier is a senior writer for GOLF Magazine/ The Williamstown, Mass. native joined GOLF in 2017 after two years scuffling on the mini-tours. Dethier is a graduate of Williams College, where he majored in English, and he’s the author of 18 in America, which details the year he spent as an 18-year-old living from his car and playing a round of golf in every state.

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