30 Mar 2020

Toby Bishop – Young Welsh Dragon on fire

By Scott Grayston

Toby Bishop is truly making a name for himself – not only in the Middle East but all over the world. At just 16 years old, he shot a sublime 62 to break the course record in the Saadiyat Men’s Open and then followed it up with victory in The Els Alliance against a strong field that contained the likes of European Tour professional Gavin Moynihan. It’s a shame that the COVID-19 virus has put the brakes on for a youngster whom looks destined for greatness.

THE Welsh golfer’s scintillating record-breaking triumph in the Saadiyat Men’s Open came shortly after losing out in a play-off to Ahmad Skaik in the Trump Men’s Open. Not only did the teenager display his strong mental game to bounce back, but also his immense potential to shoot low – really low. “It all just seemed to fall into place in that tournament,” the teenager says about his 10-under par performance that including missing a four-footer, six- footer and 10-footer on holes 15, 16 and 17. “My game recently has been in a really good place, the long game is in good shape and I’m hitting the ball really well,” said Bishop, who had Callaway’s new MAVRIK driver in the bag for the first time and missed only one fairway all weekend. “I’ve also been spending a lot of time on the short game area, which has been key to improving my scoring. I was out there attacking pins and everything just seemed to click. Every single putt, whether it was 40-foot or 5-foot, it felt like it was going to go in. My putter was red hot all day.”

BACK-TO-BACK VICTORIES

Bishop, who is part of the Wales Golf High Performance Squad, then went back-toback with victory in The Els Alliance, where he shot a 69 in the professional one-day event. Then, after holding the lead, he looked destined to complete a hat-trick of triumphs at the Trump Dubai Club Championship, where he’s a member, but his hopes were put on hold after the General Authority of Sports postponed the event due to children under 18 being prevented by participating in golf events because of the COVID-19 outbreak. It was frustrating for Bishop, who was in the form of his life, but he took it in his stride. “It’s quite annoying with my best performances happening recently but there’s nothing we can do,” he says.

“It’s disappointing not to be able to play in more tournaments, but at the same time this gives me more chance to practice. It would have been a special tournament for me to win at the Trump, Dubai, as it’s my home club’s championship, but, hopefully, I’ll be victorious in the event when it happens again later in the year.” The well-spoken teen’s impressive performances this season have come as a result of the countless hours of work he’s been putting into various aspects of his game. “I’ve tidied up my short game, which has been very helpful, and also done some great work with my psychologist who is part of the Wales Golf Team,” he said. “In addition, the experience of playing in events and improving my course management has come together with “My game recently has been in a really good place, the long game is in good shape and I’m hitting the ball really well,” said Bishop, who had Callaway’s new MAVRIK driver in the bag for the first time and only missed one fairway all weekend. enhancements to my swing to help me perform at a higher level.” The Dubai English-Speaking College student is part of a strong trio of youngsters alongside Arjun Gupta and Josh Hill who have been raised in Dubai and are proving their ability on the MENA Tour. All three are coached at the Claude Harmon Performance Academy at the Els Club.

REAPING THE REWARDS

Bishop is taught by the Academy Director of Instruction, Jamie McConnell, and the pair have developed a partnership that is reaping the rewards out on the course. “I’ve been working with Jamie literally since the first day he moved to Dubai,” Bishop says with a smile. “He came over from Spain, landed with a suitcase, and came straight to a lesson with me, so he’s seen my game develop all the way to what it is now. We have a special relationship because he completely understands my swing and this seems to have been working really well in recent months.” Bishop’s friend, Josh Hill, has also broken records of his own when last season he became the youngest male player to win an Official World Golf Ranking event at the MENA Tour’s Al Ain Open as a 15-year-old. Hill went on to play in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship and the OMEGA Dubai Desert Classic this season which has spurred Bishop on to raise his game.

“Josh is one of my best mates so to see him compete in two professional events and enjoy so much success was great to see. It’s definitely inspired me to try and do that myself.” Although Bishop, Hill and Gupta are regularly competing against each other most weeks, they are close friends away from the course, which helps bring the best out of each other’s games. “The three of us are like brothers,” says the Welshman. “Josh and I are really good friends off the course. We play lots of Xbox online together when we’re not playing golf. In terms of the future, we have quite different paths we are aiming to take. “I’m looking towards going down the academic route of college golf in the States, Arjun’s trying to get away from academics as soon as he can and then Josh is sitting more on the fence. “Although we could all be going in different routes, hopefully, all three of us can go on to have careers like Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth!” So what’s the long term plan for the record-breaking Bishop who has been catching the eye of some of the top American Colleges after his recent performances? Toby has it all planned out: “After college, I want to get onto the PGA Tour, and win all the Majors and become World No.1!”


Jamie McConnell
Jamie McConnell

JAMIE McCONNELL REFLECTS ON TOBY BISHOP’S RECORD-BREAKING FORM

Bishop trains at the Claude Harmon Performance Academy under the expert guidance of Jamie McConnell. The Golf Academy Director spoke to Worldwide Golf exclusively about the 16-year-old’s development and potential.

“Toby has always been a slow and steady improver,” says McConnell. “We have been working together for almost seven years. He was my very first pupil in Dubai, which is quite funny looking back at it now. He’s the most constant improver that we have really had. He doesn’t jump very often – in fact, going 10-under would be unusual because it is such a big step. He has been training like that for a while and he’s been working exceptionally hard on his game. “His ball striking has been through the roof for a long time now and the short game work he has put in over the last few weeks and months has come together with these two recent victories. All of a sudden, something like a 62 comes like it did at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club. But whether he shots 62, 72 or 82, it’s the same person who remains an exceptional hard worker and who deserves everything that he gets in the game.” McConnell knows Bishop’s game better than anyone and can identify areas where he is looking to improve to get to the next stage in his career.

“I would just say that he should keep doing what he is doing,” adds the coach. “Improving his speed is one of his biggest goals and one of the things that he has worked hardest on. He has hit goals along the way and he is the one person I have worked with who would always surprise me, as he achieves big goals every single year. Even when he looks unlikely to beat his oponents – he does it. It’s funny because one of the goals this season was to set a course record – and that is a difficult goal for anyone, so for him to go out there and shoot 62 is amazing. “On that day I was away but I was in touch with the coach in Abu Dhabi and he was saying that Toby had been consistent. I replied and said that I would love to see him go low, and then later when I logged on to check the results, I nearly fell off my beach chair when I saw his score!”

Share this article
Swing Sequence

Wyndham Clark Swing Sequence

By Jonathan Craddock, PGA Professional, Pete Cowen Academy One of the...

Xander Schauffele swing sequence

By Jonathan Craddock, PGA Professional, Pete Cowen Academy Xander Schauffele has...

Related articles

Upbeat McIlroy Ready for US Open After Marital Reconciliation

Rory McIlroy’s upbeat mindset ahead of this week’s US Open at...

U.S. Open Preview – Who will claim the year’s third Major?

The third Major of men’s schedule gets underway this month with...

Surviving Summer – How Courses Cope With The Heat

Words: Will Kent Photography: Provided by Stuart & Getty Images The...

Kiaan Keeps On Winning – UAE’s Latest Jnr Star

Photography & words by Will Kent Eight-year-old Kiaan Maharaj has become...

Gaudet rings the changes for women’s golf

Elisa Gaudet, Founder of Women’s Golf Day, talks exclusively to Rick...

Masters Green Jacket Thief Charged

A former warehouse assistant at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia...