It is Wentworth week again. Of all the weeks in the golfing calendar year this could be my favourite. There are not many places prettier than Wentworth at the end of May when the rhododendron is at full bloom. For some reason the weather is usually quite decent as well and it is if the tour has come home after a full winter and spring in foreign countries. This year is no different and it will be interesting to find out on Sunday night who walks away with the trophy.
In Wales the hunt for the Walker Cup places continues with the Welsh Amateur Stroke Play. The results were certainly well hidden but at least the first round scores are available here. Hopefully updates during the weekend will be displayed as well.
Having just published Peter’s Monthly for May (check the Monthly:s in the right hand panel for more) it is now time for me to take a bit of a break. I will be back again the first week of June.
On any other weekend, what Niall Kearney from Ireland did when winning the the Brabazon Trophy at Moortown would have given him quite a lot of recognition in his home country. I think it probably does also after this weekend but it will be difficult to compete with how his fellow country man Shane Lowry is portrayed in the media. After all Shane won the Irish Open as an amateur in what was his first start on tour. That is a remarkable achievement!
On the European Tour website I read that Shane is now considering his options, whether to turn pro or not. I think that if he doesn’t those tasked with advising him need to have another serious think. Shane will never get a better opportunity than this! Two years’ exemption and a winner’s category – what more can you ask for? Of course it is unfortunate that he then will not feature in the Walker Cup in September but the game is bigger than that. Shane will have the potential to do a lot of great things as a professional!
It is interesting that three amateurs have now won on the European Tour and all three of them in the last two years. Pedro Martin was first followed by Kiwi Danny Lee in February and now Shane. I don’t think any of them expected to be anywhere near that and they would probably now have been too disappointed only to make the cut. Instead, they produced probably the golf of their lives and went on to win. At the Brabazon this weekend I am sure that quite a few players did the opposite. Came there with expectations and hopes to do great things and perhaps to win the tournament. Some of them left already after the first day having missed the cut and others competed over the weekend but were never in contention. Golf is an interesting sport when it comes to this. How do you know when you are on form? How do you prepare in order to peak perform at the right time? I think very few players are anywhere near understanding their own performance. And even more interesting, way too few are even trying to find out. At amateur level most players still live by the belief that “the more I play the more chances I have to perform”. I would be interested to see the one that changes that belief to “the better I play the more chances I have to win”.
“I probably controlled myself the best I have ever done”. This was Henrik Stenson’s simple analysis of why he won the Players Championship at Sawgrass over the weekend. As simple as it may seem it is probaly true. Obviously nobody will win at Sawgrass without having all the shots that it takes to do it. The challenge though is that quite a few players in the field will have those skills. Winning on a Sunday afternoon is not exactly about being able to play the shots. it is about doing it when it matters the most and also if the shot does not come off the first time, to be able to step up again and believe that you can do it the next time.
There is an excellent press conference with Henrik on the PGA Tour website where he describes to the press how he went about winning at Sawgrass. Henrik talks about how he walked off the course on the third day after a 73 having just made 3 bogeys on the last 5 holes and still felt upbeat about his game. He was most pleased with his patience through the week and his main priority was to not let what happened affect him. Those are the words of a true champion that has not just mastered the golf course and the tournament but perhaps most of all, himself.
I have been on one of those once in a life time things today. Stephen Rolley, one of our England Regional Coaches is a long time friend with John Jacobs, the true Master of the most legendary golf coaches. Steve and I chatted a while ago about coaching in general and the importance of simplifying the complicated things and making them understandable for the student. After some more discussion Steve offered to set up a meeting with me, him and John and today was the day.
Steve and I arrived at John’s house in the morning and it become a day when John would not stop talking. He is 84 now, sharp as a knife and still the best coach that I have ever met. The stories that he has got to tell could last for days and weeks and what strikes me the most is that so much of his art of teaching has gone missing in today’s coaching. John has a drill or a game for everything and when he has coached some of the world’s greatest players I am sure they have not even noticed the piece of instruction coming there way. Always in the form of – hit a fade for me, show me a draw, let’s see if you can hit a driver of the floor etc. That is a true genius at work if you ask me!
I am going to do it again. Refer to a Daily Telegraph article. Sean O’Hair won a great victory in North Carolina over the last weekend. He beat Tiger Woods along with other superstars and cashed a more than nice check. And yet you have to wonder if he would not trade both the win and the check in a heartbeat for the chance to turn back time and not have to go through what he has been through. Sean is a child of one of the nowadays very frequently occurring ‘pushy dads’. He is one that has ‘come out’ and told the world about his experience and you would hope that those experiences could contribute to these things not happening again. And yet my feeling is that we are heading in the complete opposite direction. The number of pushy dads on golf courses is increasing rapidly (I am not aware of any pushy moms but perhaps they are out there as well?) and my biggest fear is – what if that is what it takes? What if the future champions in sports have to get groomed into becoming a champion from an early age? I know for sure that I would not want to be part of tempting kids (or perhaps more so their parents) into such an environment. I refuse to believe that this is the case though. There is enough evidence in research to suggest that the best athletes are born from an environment where they themselves can choose what to do and where the facilities are such that they do choose to play sports. The facilities they have nearby will of course help them choose. Golfers are born from having a golf course close, tennis players come from the environment where tennis can be played etc. The difference is that the kid him or herself choose to spend endless hours doing the sport. Let us try and get back to that!
I have just posted a new Peter’s Monthly which you will find under April 2009 on the right. If you would like to be on the receiving end of that Monthly email just send me a note.
At Royal Lytham Golf Club it was a day when the weather Gods decided to present links golf as it is supposed to be. The wind was fresh, the woolly hat much needed and the golf course there to provide the players with conditions where the cream was always going to rise to the top. Temper, shot making skills and endurance were all put to the test over the final 36 holes and golf does not get any better than this. At Fairhaven down the road, one of the qualifying courses when the Open is hosted by Royal Lytham, an equal test was provided for the juniors and golf in England should be grateful to the members of these two prestigious clubs for giving up their golf courses on a weekend when I am sure they would have loved to play themselves. These members take great pride in hosting these Championships and if it was not for them it would be so much more difficult to develop the World beaters of tomorrow.
At Royal Lytham James Robinson from Southport and Ainsdale, a member of the England A Squad, walked away with the title. It was James’ first major victory but still no surprise to those near to James. From junior golf James has moved on at a steady pace to establish himself as one of the top amateurs in the country and this victory was well deserved. At Fairhaven the winner was Adam Carson from Long Ashton at a quite impressive 15 under par.
For full results from both events click on the links below:
Lytham Trophy 2009
Fairhaven Trophy 2009
I admit I have been a bit lazy on the old blogging side this week. There has not been too much to write about other than the odd meeting which I am sure nobody would be interested in anyway. This weekend though it is time for the true season opener for major amateur tournaments in the UK when the Lytham Trophy takes place. Nowadays it is coupled with the junior event, the Fairhaven Trophy right next door, played over the same weekend. In other words quite a few golfers, parents and officials join the Bank Holiday travellers to the north west corner of England and one of the great seaside destinations on the golfing map.
When I arrived at Royal Lytham this morning the first guy I met was a European Tour player, Dan Willet. Having missed the cut in PGA Catalunya this week Dan decided to go and support a fellow member of his club by caddying for him the the event. That is what I call support!
Being Saturday already both events in Lytham and St Annes have made it to halfway with the leaders being Dale Whitnell in the Lytham Trophy and Adam Carson in the Fairhaven Trophy. For full results see the below links.
Lytham Trophy 2009
Fairhaven Trophy 2009