Manchester Evening News Column: Looking to the future

This is the time of year when it’s natural to pause and reflect and I’ve decided it’s time to move in a slightly different direction in 2019. 

At 40, and after two decades as a pro, I’m not ready to retire just yet but I’ll be playing fewer tournaments next year and will hopefully be working on something new that I believe will touch on every aspect of golf and open people’s eyes in the way they look at the game and how they can improve. 

Everything is about timing and last year I felt I had some unfinished business, I wanted to see what the Challenge Tour was like and to try to get my European Tour card back. 

Now I feel a bit different. I’ve got a lot of ideas about the next phase of my career and I can’t wait to get going.

It’s been tough since I had wrist surgery in 2015 and this year there was a lot of good stuff but there was also plenty of poor and, if I’m brutally honest, I didn’t enjoy it much. 

When I came back from that injury my confidence was low, my wrist ached, I didn’t trust it and picked up some really bad swing habits that I found hard to get away from.

I’m a positive person but it wasn’t easy. After so long on the road, I realised how much I love being at home with my family, which is why I didn’t play quite a full schedule. 

I’ve played ok in the last few months and got the buzz back after the Alfred Dunhill Links in Scotland, but the time feels right to look elsewhere. 

When I was out injured, I went to Los Angeles and did the TPI course which teaches everything about how the human body functions in the golf swing. I’ve always been into fitness and did my National Academy of Sport and Medicine diploma in gym instruction and personal training a year ago. 

It was an eight-week course at DW in Eccles, Trafford and it felt like going back to school but I really enjoyed the classes and assignments and learnt a lot. 

At the moment I’m studying golf specific fitness, group fitness and performance enhancement at NASM Level Four. 

This year has been a learning curve and on the Challenge Tour I’ve seen so many good players who are amazing ball-strikers but just don’t seem to be able to do it on the course, which is another area I feel I can help players of all levels in.  

I’ve got too much experience in golf to just walk away from it and I’ve put too much time in on the fitness side of it to not do something so I’m looking at blending the two and I’m passionate about all of it. 

I’m really proud of what I’ve achieved in the game. I got to 26 in the world rankings and won nine times as a pro, six on the European Tour, including the Irish Open and Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, led two Open Championships, played every major, a couple of Masters and narrowly missed out on the Ryder Cup. 

For a lad from North Yorkshire who started playing hitting it from goal to goal on a football pitch, that’s not too bad. 

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