Pete Cowen – Life on Tour is getting tough at the top

There’s a great chance Matt Fitzpatrick will win again this season and the young guns are setting a tough pace for the old guard on Tour.

Matt Fitzpatrick’s win in Switzerland at the Omega European Masters was just what he needed to keep his record running of at least one win in each of his three years on the European Tour so far. He put his success at the Omega European Masters down to going back to basics with ‘two or three drills’ we do with the players.

Matt works mainly with Mike (Pete Cowen’s coaching colleague, Mike Walker) and they concentrated on widening his stance, which seemed to have done the trick. It’s a drill that gets the club in position early enough. He’s done that particular drill many times before but you don’t want to do drills too regularly or you lose the impact. We frequently go back to drills we’ve done with our players in the past.

Matt put in an impressive performance to beat Scott Hend at the third hole of a dramatic play-off and I think he’ll go on to have a good end to the season. I wouldn’t be surprised if he wins another event before the end of the year. Maybe he’ll hold on to his DP World Tour Championship title.

It’s great news for the Middle East and great news for the European Tour that Oman will host a full European Tour event early next year after hosting the National Bank of Oman Golf Classic and then the Grand Final of the Challenge Tour. It will work well with the players. The weather’s good in Oman and I’m sure the players will play back-to-back tournaments, take a break and play the other two events. The players like the region and the events will get a decent field because there’s nowhere else to play if you’re not in the world top 50.

I’ve not made any progress on the Dubai golf academy front as yet. I suggested that they should put in an academy to cater for the Asian market. The guy who runs the tourist board in Hong Kong had a lesson with me at Wentworth recently and he’s all for it. The population is only 7 million in Hong Kong but they get 60 million visitors a year. He said he would be prepared to go to Dubai for a lesson along with many more from China. It would be certainly be worthwhile to promote a Dubai golf academy in Asia. If they had a hotel at JGE, that would be the perfect facility.

I’m sure there would be a steady flow of golf tourists who would choose to travel to Dubai from China if there was a facility that could cater for all their requirements.

The number of first time winners on the European Tour this year proves that there’s a changing of the guard taking place. The big names are gradually being phased out and the young brigade are taking over. The youngsters are fearless. Take Justin Thomas. He’s won five times this season to take the FedExCup. You can’t stop this transition. There are so many good young players coming through.

The problem with the big names who have ruled the Tours for so many years is that many of them are carrying long-term injuries. When you consider the number of balls they hit and the constant stress they put on their bodies, it’s not surprising that their careers are getting shorter.

Many of the leading players have been punching above their weight for most of their lives. Some players have the natural strength and physique to launch the ball off the tee some 320+yards without taking the strain out of their bodies. Others have to push themselves to the absolute limit – and beyond. You can’t do that week-in-week-out without causing increasing damage to your health. Like it or not, golf has become a young man’s game at professional Tour level.