Longtime Arizona golf author John Davis dies after battle with most cancers

John Davis, a 2019 inductee into the Arizona Golf Corridor of Fame and sports activities journalist for practically 36 years, died early Monday after a protracted battle with most cancers.

Davis, 73, was a fixture on the Arizona golf scene for greater than 20 years and witnessed firsthand the rise of the Phoenix Open. Phil Mickelson, a local of San Diego however a hero for Arizona State, grew to become the face of the occasion, spearheading its huge development into one of many world’s most extremely attended sporting occasions.

And Davis was proper there alongside for the trip. Over time, author and golfer cast a friendship. A typical routine after a match spherical consisted of Mickelson signing autographs for 20 or half-hour, placing pen to paper for anybody and everybody who wished one at TPC Scottsdale. It wasn’t an unusual sight to see him and Davis later engaged in small speak, sharing a smile or two, catching up like two longtime mates.

Davis ultimately stopped masking the tournaments, retiring in 2019, however he clearly missed the motion. With many mates within the golf world, he might simply rating a credential and would usually swing by the media middle to say hello to everybody.

On the Charles Schwab Cup in 2021, the primary time Mickelson was eligible for the PGA Tour Champions occasion, the 2 caught up as soon as once more at Phoenix Nation Membership, with Davis effectively into the throes of his most cancers combat. The day earlier than the match began, as Mickelson took questions within the media scrum, Davis stood off to the aspect and waited, his face masking an indication he was taking precautions about his well being however wasn’t going to sit down round the home all day.

When Lefty was finished, he turned and noticed Davis and the 2 spent the subsequent 20 minutes catching up, Mickelson telling him to hold in there and maintain combating.

“John waged a battle over a number of years with most cancers, and his mates had been amazed at how a lot he endured and what number of occasions he bounced again from devastating information,” stated Bob Younger, the Republic’s long-time Suns reporter and colleague of Davis. “However we knew he was a tricky man. He survived a stroke by dragging himself over a span of two hours throughout his front room to achieve a cellphone, which he dragged off of a desk to name 9-1-1.

“And once I was masking the Suns beat, I got here into the press work room to search out John typing along with his proper hand on his laptop computer whereas holding his left hand within the air. I requested him what was up and he stated a scorpion had stung him whereas he was doing yard work. He stated holding his hand up helped with the throbbing ache. I advised perhaps he ought to go dwelling and he stated it could nonetheless be throbbing whether or not he was at dwelling or work. He stayed and filed a sidebar and notes that evening.”

Davis later had a coronary heart bypass situation however continued to combat on, by no means complaining.

“Through the canine days of summer season, when not a lot was taking place within the sports activities world, 4 sportswriters – John, Bob Younger, Dale Hajek and I – would slip out of the workplace early and play a fast spherical at Encanto,” recalled Kent Somers, who stated he and Davis competed for a time on their beats, Somers on the Republic and Davis on the previous Phoenix Gazette. The 2 papers merged in 1997, bringing Davis to the Republic. “Properly, to me, it was a fast spherical. To John, who was a stable participant, it in all probability didn’t appear so fast. He by no means, ever complained about {golfing} with a hack like me.”

Davis moved to Phoenix within the mid Eighties, effectively earlier than the inhabitants exploded and the town had only one professional staff, the Suns.

“I discovered an image, his grandma took an image of him leaving in a U-Haul truck in August 1986,” stated Kim Ewing, Davis’ niece, who stated he began working for the Phoenix Gazette upon his arrival.

“He was clever, witty and humble, and labored tirelessly at WM Phoenix Opens, Masters, U.S. Opens, state amateurs – wherever he was assigned – to deliver essentially the most entertaining and correct tales he probably might to his readers,” stated Invoice Huffman, who proceeded Davis on the golf beat on the Republic. “And John at all times delivered, which is why he earned his spot within the Arizona Golf Corridor of Fame.”

As luck would have it, a few years later – and maybe as karma for all his goodwill – Davis was among the many fortunate media members to have his title drawn to play Augusta Nationwide on the Monday after the Masters Match, a long-standing custom.

John Davis

Former Arizona Republic golf author John Davis. (Photograph: Wes Johnson/The Arizona Republic)

Davis wore many hats throughout his journalism profession. Many occasions it was that of a mentor.

“JD began out as one of many requirements for me within the enterprise and wound up changing into an expensive pal who remained inspirationally optimistic by his well being points,” stated Paul Coro, who got here to the Republic as a younger reporter in 1997. “As a mentor, he at all times had been encouraging and complimentary however made me really feel extra like a colleague by sharing tales and laughs. The best way he labored earned the respect of execs, whether or not it was going means again with Dan Majerle, connecting rapidly with Charles Barkley or having Phil Mickelson seemingly at all times choose up his calls. For a man who was nice with phrases, those I’ll treasure most had been his form ones about my ladies as they grew up.”

Whereas Davis spent appreciable time masking the professional sport, he at all times made an effort to be there at newbie occasions as effectively.

“He was an All-Star,” stated Ed Gowan, who was government director of the Arizona Golf Affiliation for 37 years, retiring in 2022. “With a view to get nationwide recognition typically you must name consideration to your self and he by no means did that. He was by no means after the roses. It was all in regards to the topic.”

Born in Adrian, Michigan, on Feb. 23, 1950, Davis was drafted by the Military throughout Vietnam and was enlisted for 2 years. Years later, he bought a second dwelling in Traverse Metropolis, Michigan, and escaped the Phoenix warmth in his later years to benefit from the midwestern summers at his cabin. Associates say he spoke loads about his place there in current weeks, hoping to go to one final time.

“Final week he was telling me how badly he wished to return there for one more summer season,” Somers stated. “It wasn’t to be, however, man, did he stay a life.”

Pat Williams, Massive Chief of The Thunderbirds, who stage the Phoenix Open yearly stated: “We’re saddened to listen to of the passing of legendary golf author John Davis. John lined the Phoenix Open, golf in Arizona for 4 many years, was a fantastic pal of the match, and actually to your complete Thunderbird group. Even after retiring, John would proceed to come back out to benefit from the Open and do what he liked, chatting it up with gamers, Thunderbirds, media, and actually simply anybody who wished to speak about golf.

“John was a one-of-a-kind. He’ll actually be missed.”

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