Pete Cowen – Players need regular lives but at a cost?

It was great to see Sergio put on the Green Jacket at Augusta and my man Thomas Pieters showed the world he’s a Major threat but players these days need to stay fully focused to win. As we all know, as you get older you pick up more responsibilities and in turn distrastactions.

Thomas was disappointed with fourth place at Augusta National – which is good. He said he could have set himself a higher target, like eight under, and then that might have made the leaders twitchy.

For a first effort in The Masters it was very promising. Thomas has already done enough to earn his Tour card for the US PGA Tour next year so he doesn’t need to chase it, which means he’s not going to The Players Championship at Sawgrass.

Thomas Pieters focused on playing in Europe

He said he’s quite prepared to stay in Europe for a good while, play the Majors and World Golf Championships events, and leave it at that. He wants to be a world player, he doesn’t want to be just an American PGA Tour player. He’s his own man and he loves the home-life. He’s different to many players I’ve got to know, no doubt about it.

Henrik Stenson wasn’t happy with his game going into Augusta and when you add the effects of the pollen it made for a difficult week for him. He didn’t perform like we know he can.

 

The demands of married life

There has been a lot of media coverage of Rory McIlroy getting married and Sergio is due to tie the knot later this year.  It’s great to see the lads happy off the course and Sergio’s fiancée Angela played a vital part at The Masters but my wife always said to me that professional golfers shouldn’t get married – because it’s too selfish a game.

 

Family life can prove to be a distraction for professional golfers

If you want to be the best, there might be the odd occasion where marriage might help you – if you’ve got the right wife and she’s totally supportive. But if you haven’t got the sort of wife who understands the pressure,  you can see problems ahead.  All of a sudden priorities change. The players can’t go out and practice as much as they need to; they can’t go to the gym as much to keep their fitness up to scratch; kids can get ill and all sorts of family issues can hold back a player’s progress. I’ve seen it happen so many times.

It’s difficult to keep all the plates spinning in the air at once. The Big Three managed it but it was a completely different era. I don’t think you can compare the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, and even the early 2000s to what’s happening now. It all changes. Everything changes. If you’re a successful player the demands on your time are even greater, so all of a sudden you’ve got to juggle your life even more.

 

Single golfers can be selfish with their time

I’m not saying it’s the be-all and end-all, but it certainly helps the younger guys like Rickie Fowler and Justin Thomas. They can be selfish with their time. If you think about it, the player arrives at Augusta awith an entourage of 10-12 people to look after – family, friends, business associates. Situations arise. Like “so and so hasn’t got a pass; someone has got lost, can you find a doctor?”  How can the player concentrate on the job he’s there to do – his golf?

 

Tony Pickard’s one rule

I think Tony Pickard, who coached tennis player Stefan Edberg, said it best with his one rule – and only rule – and that was no family at the Grand Slams. Edberg won six Slams between ’85 and ’92. Did he get it right? Well, he got it right for Edberg. A Major tennis tournament takes two weeks and you want to minimise the distractions. The fewer distractions you have during a competition, the better. It’s the same for all sports.

 

Sergio can win more Majors

With Sergio breaking through I can see him winning two or three Majors but I still can’t believe how bad he and Rose putted during the final round at Augusta. On the par-5 13th, Justin was just off the back for two. His long putt almost went in for eagle and that would have been game over. But then Garcia holes out from 5 feet for par and Rose misses his birdie putt and makes par. So it goes on. On 16 Garcia misses from 3 or 4 feet? Then Rose missed from 6 feet on 17. They both miss makeable putts on 18. So it’s you miss, I miss. The player who misses fewer putts wins.  How often does that happen? You can’t rely on that to happen to win a Major.

 

Putting is essential to winning a Major

It made great viewing because it was so unexpected, especially on the Augusta greens. They were missing and holing putts, and missing and holing putts. It wasn’t as if it were birdie after birdie. However, Sergio’s eagle on 15 was unbelievable. Driver and an 8-iron that hit the flag! He made the putt, sure, but then he missed easier-looking putts on 16 and 18.  I wasn’t surprised to see Garcia consistently knock it passed Rose. He’s always had an extra gear and he decided to use it. Adrenaline plays its part with a character like Sergio.  To go with driver from the off in the final round showed he had a game plan. And it paid off. It’s great for Dubai as the last two Dubai Desert Classic winners have gone on to win The Masters!  n