Pete Cowen: Willett’s Masters win has the Americans wondering what happened

Pete Cowen Column Worldwide Golf April 2016: THE moment Danny Willett won The Masters last month many people have asked, did I see it coming? The answer is, quite simply, Yes. He’s been playing well for a long time and he’s worked really hard on his short game and it shows. Just look at what he did at Doral at the WGC-Cadillac Championship where he made 18 out of 20 sand saves.

Also, his putting coach Paul Hurrion deserves a lot of credit as Danny’s putting has also been out of the top draw. He looked one of the most confident players on the greens at Augusta. He only had one three-putt, while Spieth had four. That tells you something.

The conditions at The Masters this year were tough, which certainly played into the hands of the Europeans. In calm conditions the Americans can just hit to an exact yardage like machines and take the course apart. But the opening round was brutal and many of the US players had no idea how to control their ball flight and spin in the wind.

I wasn’t surprised that in those conditions Lee Westwood was the only player to break 70 three times as he’s one of the best in the business at controlling his trajectory and spin.

It was great to see him play with Danny on the final day. They both get on well together and it showed, but more importantly, they dragged each other round and fed off one another.

It was unfortunate for Lee that he hit his tee shot on the par three 16th a little heavy to come up short but I was impressed that Danny, having seen Lee’s ball finish up 40ft short, stuck with the same club and was focused on what he needed to do.

AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 10: Danny Willett of England plays his shot from the 18th tee during the final round of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 10, 2016 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
Danny Willett hitting the power fade with a three wood to perfection down the last. All that hard work paid off!

That, for my money, was the shot that helped Danny on his way to the Green Jacket. The chip on 17 wasn’t bad either, considering that Justin Rose was in a similar spot and couldn’t get it to within 20 feet with a putter.

We’ve been working with Danny now for three years and he’s worked non-stop to develop the proper mechanics, as initially he had too much shape on his ball and couldn’t hit a power fade. It was great to see him hit one down the last, so all that hard work he’s put in has certainly paid off.

We work with some of the best players in the world and what sets them apart is that they will do whatever is required to make themselves a better player under pressure and it’s our job is install a technique they can rely on under extreme pressure.

This applies to all elite sports people. Their business is to feel at home in very uncomfortable conditions and all their training means they know exactly what to do without having to think about it, a bit like an auto pilot.

Another one of my players who did well at Augusta was Matthew Fitzpatrick and you’ve got to remember he’s only 21. I’m often asked what his goals are for the season. Will he make The Ryder Cup, win another tournament or break into the top 25 on the ranking?

Putting goals on yourself restricts you and remember – the road to success is always under construction. If you set goals, like winning a Major, where do you go when you’ve achieved them? All I say to my players  is: the goal for each season is simply to get better.

So with the first Major out of the way the whole game has been turned upside down. Two weeks prior to The Masters many golfers, including myself, believed that the Americans would hammer Europe in The Ryder Cup in September. But, all of a sudden, The Masters has finished and everyone has started wondering what happened to all the top American players who were expected to dominate the event.

All it takes is a little wind at Hazeltine and Europe could be quids in. The Americans are too used to hitting to numbers and feel uncomfortable working the ball flight. Europeans have grown up playing in tough conditions, working the ball to a number and controlling the spin in the wind.

To master this game all you need to do is:

Start the ball on line, with the correct flight and spin. Then learn to chip and putt. 

Established in 1999 Worldwide Golf is the Middle East’s Number One Golf Magazine
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