Archive for July, 2010

The noble art of preparation

Tommy Fleetwood

For as long as I can remember I have been fascinated by the million dollar question of how to best prepare for a golf tournament in order to peak your performance. Athletes in all sports spend hours, days, weeks and months to try to find out what is right for them and it seems like most sports have come a lot further than golf and golfers. A simple excuse that is often used is that golf is so different from other sports as it is much more complex. It is physical in that  you play over four days plus practice days in sometimes exhausting heat, but it is nothing like a marathon or a cross-country ski race. It is psychologically demanding in that every shot takes a more or less difficult decision and successful execution of that decision means sticking to it like there is no tomorrow. But then again, it is probably nothing compared to shooting or archery. Golf is tactical as it most of the time is you against the course but then again, what sport at the highest level is not tactically demanding?

I am sure that many other sports would fall under the same category and be just as complex as golf. Perhaps that is also what makes them so interesting and unpredictable. I do seriously also wonder if there is any other way to properly prepare for those sports than to play the sport itself. The Swedish professional, Daniel Chopra, once played 40 tournaments/weeks in a year. When I asked him why he did that he said:-

“That is why I turned professional. I enjoy playing.”

Tommy Fleetwood, England, Lancashire and Formby Hall, is en route to something similar. His schedule from early June has been more than intense. Starting with the Amateur Championship which is not exactly a normal event with 36 holes of qualifying followed by 36 holes of match play per day for as long as you are in the Championship, he then flew out to France to compete in the qualifying for the French Open (yes, he won that one nicely…). Tommy then came back to England for the Brabazon Trophy after which he returned to France for the French Open. A missed cut there meant he could return to Heathrow to catch up with his mates on the flight out to the European Championships in Sweden. The Europeans is certainly not a normal week either and with Tommy being the leading player on the team it had him playing no less than 180 holes over the seven days of practice and competition.

By now we have made it to the Open Championship week and Tommy actually has a week off. This lead him into the English Challenge at Stoke by Nayland, his first crack at a Challenge Tour event. After four days of competition there Tommy finished second, only to jet off to the English Amateur where he teed it up in the morning the day after for the first of the two qualifying rounds. 6 rounds later Tommy is playing the semi final at Little Aston this afternoon, against fellow European Champion Tom Lewis.

Of course a schedule like this cannot go on forever. The worst case scenario is obviously that it leaves Tommy in burnout, with Glandular Fever or something similar. Having said that though, in any walk of life, if you want to be good at something, the basic rule is to make sure that you do it a lot. If there is any truth to that Tommy has got a bright future!

Follow the final matches of the English Amateur here.

Freedom from fear

A number of years ago now I attended a seminar in Phoenix, AZ, around the Intelligence of Play. One of the speakers was a guy named James Durlacher. If I am not completely mistaking, one of his books is called ‘Freedom from fear forever’. As my journeys this summer have taken me to the Amateur Championship, the European Championship, the Open and now the English Challenge at Stoke by Nayland I come to think about this phrase again – Freedom from fear. I wonder how many golfers can hit their shots without fear and I wonder how much of a difference it would make if they could?

What I see in many of these young golfers I am afraid is a lot of fear. And it does not seem to get any better as they get older. In fact it is the other way around. I guess when money is tight, you have a mortgage to pay and wife and two kids waiting at home, it is not the best formula to be free from fear on the golf course. I have seen one player this summer though who seems to be able to do it. An Italian player in the team that England played in the semi-final of the European Championships. Nino Bertasio probably hasn’t yet got a mortgage to pay but he has the shortgame of a magician and for now that appears to be enough. In all honesty I have never seen anything like it but I would imagine that Seve at his best was something similar. If you are confident that you can get it up and down from just about any position around the green, including the famous ball washer, then I do not think there is that much to worry about. Seve’s perhaps most famous shot came from a parking lot in the Open and he hit that with the same level of confidence as I see Nino play his shots with at Österåkers Golf Club some 30 years later. Not since those days of Seve have I seen a player that so obviously expects to hole it everytime he is in a bunker. Nino will soon be on a tour somewhere and it will be incredibly interesting to follow what that does to him!

Early morning on the links

There is something very special about the Open Championships. This year it is the 150th anniversary and the tournament is played at St Andrews, the Home of Golf. It does not get any more special than that.

Nowhere is the draw as important as in the Open Championship. With a first tee off at 06.30 and last at somewhere around 16.00 the difference in conditions can be pretty dramatic. Yesterday morning was calm, warm and without rain. This morning had sunshine, even though for a short spell, before that heavy rain came in. To be last out on one of the qualifying days is an experience in itself. Most spectators will have left for home or their hotels by the time you make the halfway turn and you will guaranteed have the on course staff right behind you to collect the pins in anticipation for the day after. There is little risk that this would happen to any of the bigger names in the field but it is not unlikely that somewhere along the way to where they are today they will have experienced what for example Laurie Canter and Tyrell Hatton experienced yesterday.

First out yesterday by the way was previous Open Champion Paul Lawrie. Asked whether he thought it was disrespectful by the R&A to put an ex-champion out this early Ian Poulter immediately replied-
‘I would change with him. Anytime!’

Excess baggage

You have to wonder if the EGU Chief Executive, John Petrie, had been so keen on winning that European Team Championship Trophy had he known what came with it. Tomorrow, Sunday, on his flight back home to England John will be checking in a box weighing about 25 kg with a huge trophy inside it. It will look good in Woodhall Spa if it eventually gets there!

The England players displayed a superb performance this afternoon. After being down 2-0 following the foursomes in the morning it was still an amazingly upbeat team that met for lunch. I think every player still felt he could win his singles match. After all, that was all that was needed to claim the gold medal! One by one the English lads finished off their Swedish opponents – Canter won big, Pepperell almost as big, Fleetwood shaked hands on 17 and now it was only Lewis and Paisley on the course. Lewis was 1 up leaving the 17th green and as Paisley was in a bit of trouble on the 16th it looked like he too was going to go back to 1 up. A water visit on the 17th later, by Paisley, things were really starting to look dangerous. Tom Lewis then showed what he is really made off and when he holed his 8 feet curve ball down the hill on 18 England had once again captured the trophy.

England Captain Colin Edwards said afterwards that this goes beyond anything that he has ever experienced as a player or a Captain. I have a feeling that goes for all the players as well and after two previous finals in a row where England came up short it was nice for England Coach David Ridley to get a taste of that sweet victory.

Full results available here.

The magic half hour


Lewis watches his tee shot on 1

It was a day where the honour swung dramatically back and forth. After 1-1 in the morning foursomes England got off to a very good start. Fleetwood got it to 3 up early on in his match, as did Laurie Canter. Tom Lewis was up against tough opposition in short game master mind Nino Bertasio but kept things even long into the first nine, as did Eddie Pepperell in his match. Towards 15 and 16 though Tommy Fleetwood had all of a sudden gone back to 1 up, Canter was all square, Pepperell 1 down and with Lewis as well as Paisley 2 down things were looking really dark for England. But then it happened!

Tommy Fleetwood made a magic up and down from the water hazard on 17 which caused his opponent to three put. Lewis holed a birdie 3 on 16 which was followed by Bertasio going in the hazard on 17 which meant Tom was all of a sudden all square. Canter had won 16 and was now 1 up while Pepperell quickly won both 16 and 17 to stand on the 18th tee 1 up. Lewis and Bertasio continued on 19 not knowing what was going on behind. When Bertasio had put his 2nd shot in the woods Tom could secure a two put for his birdie 4, a score that not even Bertasios incredible 5 from a ballwasher type lie could match. Canter had won on 18 as did Pepperell which meant that Paisley’s lost point to Italian star Andrea Pavan did not matter. An incredibly close game thereby went England’s way and all players have reason to be proud of a really strong team effort.

Tomorrow is a different day altogether and no doubt the home crowds will be cheering for their side. England face Sweden in what could be a dream final. I know that it is, at least for the organisers! Follow the action by clicking on the link below!

Upwards and onwards

The England Team at Österåker, just outside Stockholm in Sweden, made sure that one English Team is still in the hunt for the medals at the European Championships. When the boys in Turkey fell short against Italy, skipper Colin Edwards and Coach David Ridley lead their team against a Finnish side that showed some fantastic fighting spirit. Putts were holed from left, right and centre and the English players were pushed to show off their A-games. Luckily as a team they did and in the end it was England 5, Finland 2 on the board. In reality though, it was much closer than that after the 1-1 that concluded the morning foursomes.

Laurie Canter splashes out of a bunker

Laurie Canter splashes out of the bunker on 17

Tommy Fleetwood was, as always, first man out in the singles and as he finished his match on the 17th green, winning 3/1, he set the tone that cascaded down the field. When Tom Lewis and Laurie Canter finished their matches on 18 England had secured 4 points and the match was over. Chris Paisley completed the 5th English point, also on 18 and that way Eddie Pepperell could be forgiven for shaking hands with his Finnish opponent on 17 having lost his point.

In the semifinal on Friday England will face Italy who turned Germany over successfully although they were 2-0 down after the morning foursomes. A strong opponent no doubt and you can follow the action here.

And then starts a new tournament

The two England Teams made it comfortably into the top flight in the respective European Championships, Men’s in Sweden and the Boys’ in Turkey. Scoring in both places were higher today and with the team out in Sweden shooting +9 for the day the team parked in 3rd position going into tomorrow’s match play stages. Laurie Canter was the low scorer for the day with his level par 72. A round that held no less than seven birdies! Laurie tied with Chris Paisley in the individual aggregate scoring. Chris was 3 over today left which left him on one under for the 36 hole total, just like Canter.

In the boys’ event in Turkey the tendencies were similar with higher scoring today. Chris Lloyd defended his opening 64 with a level par, 72, round. Englishman of the day was instead Nick Newbold on 5 under, 67.

England now go in the quarter finals, in Sweden against Finland and in Turkey against Italy. Find the scoring here (men) and here (boys).

Steady starts in the Europeans

England got off to steady starts in both the European Boys’ Championships in Turkey and the European Men’s Championships in Sweden. Helped by Chris Lloyd’s sparkling eight under 64 the England Team at Klassis five shots ahead of everybody else. Chris’s round comprised an eagle on hole 2 and the birdies on 3, 4, 11, 14, 15, 16 and 17. With that in mind I think he could take his only bogey on 7. In Sweden it was Chris Paisley who lead the way as the second Englishman on the course. Chris carded a four under 68 which together with Tom Lewis and Laurie Canter on 70 and Tommy Fleetwood and Eddie Pepperell on 73 gave England a one shot lead in front of Denmark. Home favourites Sweden had a tough day at the office and had to overnight in 14th place.

England Captain, Colin Edwards, of course was pleased with his men along with England Coach David Ridley. After 11 hours on the course Colin could meet England’s last player on the course, Eddie Pepperell, on the 17th tee to say-

“You’ve got nothing to lose Eddie. Two over in the club house is our worst score. If you can better that it would be great!”

Eddie took his medicine and with the help of a birdie four up the last he could sneak in just ahead of Billy Hemstock!

Continue to follow the action in Sweden and Turkey!

Golf’s marathon weeks

After a bit of adventurous travelling the England Teams have arrived at their respective venues. England Boys had a bit of trouble with the air traffic controls and ended up arriving in Turkey at 2 o’clock in the morning. Tommy Fleetwood perhaps had the most challenging journey as he traveled via Paris where he competed in the French Open at Golf National. Only a water visit on the 18th on the second day kept Tommy from playing over the weekend and this meant that he could travel back to Heathrow on the Saturday morning and catch up with the rest of the England Team on their flight out to Stockholm, Sweden.

Tommy came to Stockholm with a bit of a lesson learned in the noble art of not giving up. Tommy played the first two rounds with Mark Foster who started out with a not so impressive 76. One day and another 63 (!) shots later though he was right back in the mix for the event. Mark shot 70 in the third round and as I write this he is 4 under in a tied for 6th in the final round. That is a performance of a true professional!

The European Championships, Boys and Men, start on Tuesday in Turkey and Sweden. If you want to follow the boys then go to Brian Roake’s excellent England Boys News. The men I will try to keep track of here and of course you can follow the official scoring etc by clicking here.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 36 other followers

RSS Brian Roake’s England Boys blog

  • Raymond loses out to Irishman Whitson in the Spanish Amateur March 5, 2013
    Irishman Reeve Whitson prevented Neil Raymond from keeping the Spanish Amateur Championship in English hands when he beat the Hampshire man 4 and 3 in the 36-hole final at La Manga.Although Raymond twice held a slender lead in the opening nine holes, he found himself 2-down at lunch after the man from Mourne eased ahead […]
  • USA’s Sean Dale wins Jones Cup February 4, 2013
    University of North Florida’s Sean Dale is the 2013 Jones Cup Invitational champion. The Osprey senior posted a final round 69 to finish the tournament with 213 (-3). Withthe win Dale adds to a solid playing resume that includes a win in the 2010 Florida State Amateur Championship. Starting the day at even par, Dale got his […]