ORLANDO, Fla. -- If there's a guy who deserves a break, it's Brian Davis. You probably remember Davis, an Englishman who makes his home in Orlando, as the player who, last year in the first hole of sudden death against Jim Furyk at Harbour Town Golf Links, hit a shot into the hazard beside the 18th green, ticked a piece of dead reed in his backswing when he was playing his third and immediately and unhesitatingly called a two-shot penalty on himself. It was one of three second-place finishes Davis had last year. So far, 2011 has been something of a struggle, though Davis said he's beginning to see some promising signs after an opening round of two-under par 70 that included birdies on the 16th, 17th and 18th holes in the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill.
"I struggled a bit on the West Coast," said Davis, who finished the first round four shots behind Spencer Levin but only a stroke out of second place, tied in a large group that included Phil Mickelson. "I was just outside getting into Match Play so I tried to play a lot and force my way in there. I wasn't swinging it well but I just tried to push it and didn't play any good for those five or six weeks."
Since then Davis has rejoined teacher Tony Ziegler and is beginning to see gradual signs of improvement. "Saw a few signs in Tavistock and Tampa where I was hitting some shots I wanted to hit. I'm just starting to get the game back, get the scoring back," he said. "I'm trying to get back to where I was when I first came over here with my swing. When it's this hot and the greens are this firm and they're getting shiny, it's tough to hole putts, it really is. Anything around par today is a good score."
-- Jim Moriarty