Spieth is on fire but McIlroy is just starting to warm up

Pete Cowen – Worldwide Golf Column

The past couple of months have been hard work as a torn knee ligament has meant I’ve been unable to travel but thankfully I was up and about to make it to the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship to catch up with some of my players on the range. Despite being unable to fly I’ve still been able to keep a close eye on them through the live television coverage in the UK and passing any feedback over the phone. But it’s great to be back out there. Injuries are just part of life and you just have to let time do it’s thing.

I’ve given WWG Editor Alex Gallemore a bit of stick recently for questioning Jordan Spieth’s ability to be one of the greats because the way the lad puts is just unbelievable, it’s as if he’s got a tracking device in the ball that is hooked up to the hole on every green he plays.

I’ve been asked hundreds of times why Jordan is such a great putter. Many think he’s got the greatest stroke in the game but it is his strike that is the key. If you hear him strike the ball it consistently hits the same spot and makes the same sound every time.

He practices more on the greens than any professional I know and his results back this up. I’ve always said the best putters will always be knocking on the door week-after-week as and when you are the best in the business with the short stick then it’s not a surprise to see him at World No.1.

Every amateur knows when you’ve mis-struck a putt, the chances of that putt going in are heavily decreased. But imagine striking each putt perfectly, your confidence will rise with each stroke and not before long  you will believe that every putt can be sunk. Welcome to the mindset of Jordan Spieth.

I was obviously disappointed  that Henrik didn’t win the Tour Championship but how do you compete against Jordan when his in that vein of putting form. His stats this year on the greens are remark able to say the least:  No.1 on Putts Per Round – (27.82); No.1 on One-Putt Percentage (44.26% (701 one-putts)); No.1 on Putting from 15-25’ (27.19% from 228 attempts) and  No.1 on Overall Putting Average (1.535).

But one player that also impressed me with the putter was Rory who was second in Putts per Green in Regulation at East Lake (Spieth was ninth in that category).

Rory is a little tournament rusty after his injury and when he was 14th that week in driving distance you know he’s not quite ready to go flat out with the driver. He’s doing the right thing not to push himself too hard. But as he plays more and gets back to full strength it will not be long before he’s winning again.

When I was up in St.  Andrews it was good to meet up with Padraig Harrington, who has been battling on all season with a niggling knee problem, I share his pain on that one, but he’s in good spirits and looking forward to sorting it out once the season is over. He’s in a great place at the moment as things are mapped out for the next few years for him and beyond. His win at the Honda Classic on the PGA Tour has earned him two years exemption in the States and then there’s the Ryder Cup, where I would be shocked if he’s not Captain in either 2018 or 2020. After that there’s the PGA Champions Tour and the European Senior Tour and, like Bernhard Langer and Colin Montgomerie, he will make a huge impact the moment he turns 50.

On the technology front both Callaway and TaylorMade have launched new drivers. They both seem to be of the mindset that if there is any new modification to a driver or club they will not sit on the design but get it straight out into the hands of the pros and amateurs. Anything that makes the game easier, quicker and more enjoyable for the general golfing public can only be good for the game. But the simplest way to make the game more enjoyable, especially if your struggling with confidence, is make the game easier for yourself. When out practicing, play a second ball after you’ve hit a bad shot, just so you remember the feeling of a good shot. Also, if you are struggling for distance off the tee, don’t feel drawn to play off the back tees. Many of the courses in the UAE are a championship standard, so use the forward tees to build your confidence so you can at least play into the par4s with a short club.

The round will be quicker and more enjoyable plus you will no doubt have lost far fewer balls.

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