Pete Cowen: Reflecting on 2021 it’s been a good year, but I’d only give myself B-, as we only managed to record eight wins this season. Normally the average over the last 25 years has been 10, so eight wins is a little bit low, but it’s been an odd year living in a bubble, taking endless PCR tests and playing mostly without crowds.
There are some big name players that need that atmosphere to get them buzzing and that goes across all sports. Having said that, some players have flourished without the crowds as they would normally suffer with stage fright. It’s a massive thing for players and you don’t get stage fright when there are no crowds, so if you are not performing, it’s a bit like a rehearsal.
The rehearsals are over .. now it’s the real deal
Lots of people are brilliant in rehearsals, but they struggle when the curtain goes up and Covid put the rehearsal to the front and no crowds meant there was no stage fright. There’s no stage to perform on and for many it was like they were playing with their pals.
This has thrown up a lot of different winners, which for those players is brilliant, but for the top players who would normally perform under pressure is not so great.
Lockdown has given some players time to focus more on their game and Richard Bland instantly comes to mind. His coach, Tim Barter gave it to Blandy straight and he must have listened, as he’s got really good from 120 yards in. His win at the British Masters showed that this game is all about what you put in.
So close to a great Christmas
I thought Matt Fitzpatrick might have won the DP World Tour Championship for the third time. He is pretty impressive round the Earth course, and winning at Valderrama as well a few weeks before, I thought he would be towards the top on Sunday, and he was. Just a shame Morikawa lit it up on the back nine. But it was a big-name winner and that was what the Tour and sponsors would have liked. However, if Matt had won our season would have been an A- not a B-. Having said that, I can’t claim much credit for Matt’s success at the moment. I’m more in the background these days as his coach Mike Walker has done a great job with him.
Ian Poulter the fan favourite
One of my players that continues to graft and deliver is the postman, Ian Poulter. Finishing sixth in Dubai last month was a great result, as many would not be aware of the additional work he was doing with his sponsor DP World. He’s a great ambassador for his sponsors and a great role model for young professionals, as he interacts with the fans and isn’t a faceless figure. He puts the work in on the range and his social media channels. At first, I thought social media was a distraction for my players, but Poults has shown that it can help players interact with the fans and not get distracted.
Why Tiger is unique
It’s great to see Tiger hitting balls again as the game misses him, as there isn’t a dominant figure in the game anymore and I doubt we will ever see one again. I don’t see many players that really love the game anymore. It’s all about money and lifestyle. We would have played for nothing when we started, and other sports are just the same. When you are earning more than $20 million a year hunger soon disappears. Tiger was unusual compared to the modern-day superstar, he was all about winning and the money was a byproduct of his success.
Now we have a conveyor belt of talent coming out of the American college system. They don’t care about your Rahm’s, McIlroy’s or Morikawa’s. They are good to go and driven, until they start to bring in the big bucks and the lifestyle changes.
One player of mine that is ruthless and is all about winning is Brooks. If he can stay injury free, he would be a dominant figure as he has showed. The big question is not his desire to win but can he remain fit?
Old for new faces
As we start the new year, keep an eye out on the manufacturers getting rid of some old faces and replacing them with some fresh less expensive players. In many ways, Poulter has set the bar to what is expected of an ambassador on and off the course. Get set for a few shocks!
Gallacher should get lifetime award … not a picture!
I understand why the Tour gave Morikawa a lifetime membership, but I would have liked to seen Stephen Gallacher receive one the week before at the AVIV Championship in Dubai. The back-to-back Dubai Desert Classic winner had just made his 600th start on the European Tour. That’s a remarkable achievement and it needed lifetime recognition. Not many players have got to 500 starts in their careers let alone 600.