Pete Cowen explains how a trip to the States nearly made him the owner of the first McDonald’s franchise in England.
With Rome just round the corner this will be the first time in three decades I’ve not attended the Ryder Cup. The reason? I just don’t have any of my players in the field, but there is a very outside chance I get a last-minute call from Brooks Koepka, but I highly doubt he will make Zach’s list.
It’s a shame and who knows where this PIF and Tour merger will end up. One thing is for certain it’s not going to be easy. Brooks and Bryson would make Team USA stronger and considering the Americans have not won in Europe since 1993 they might have made all the difference, as the Europeans are starting to look the stronger team. It is going to be a close battle, something I wouldn’t have said at the start of the year. Also, who would have thought at the beginning of the season I would not be booking a ticket to Rome.
It will feel weird not being on the European range, but imagine if Brooks made it and I had to stand on the American side of the range! Guess I’d have to cordon off my own neutral area.
I’ve just got back to the range in sunny Rotherham having spent time with Brooks and my other players at the LIV Golf event in Bedminster. I bumped into Donald Trump on the range, and regardless of what people might think of him, he’s not shy of confidence and belief. He was wearing a cap with the number 45 on one side and 47 on the other. When I asked him what they represented he replied: “I was the 45th President of America and will be the 47th!”
He’s certainly got the support of LIV Golf, as nearly all the events in America next year are forecast to be on Trump courses.
While in America I had a flash back to the early 1970s when I was playing over there and I went to a McDonalds for the first time. I was blown away at the value it offered, especially for a skint touring professional. It got me thinking how much of a success it would be back home in England. I got together with two other friends in 1972 to see if we could borrow the money to bring the franchise over to Britain. We had a site lined up and a business plan pitched to the bank. Unfortunately, the bank declined our proposal and I returned to the professional golf circuit.
Two years after our pitch, McDonalds opened their first franchise in England. Just imagine if the bank had approved our loan, things might have been a lot different.
Instead of flipping burgers in Sheffield I ended up picking up range balls instead. But looking back, I’m proud of what we’ve achieved. Two local Major winners and countless champions all over the world have put in the graft in the bays here at the academy. The most notable being Matt Fitzpatrick and Danny Willett. I’ve worked with the Matt over the years on the ranges around the world, along with Mike Walker and Nick Huby who have been instrumental in helping both Matt and Alex Fitzpatrick from an early age. Imagine if one day they both qualify for the same Ryder Cup team. Now that would be one I’d go to watch. In fact, I’m off to see both in Switzerland, as Alex has been invited to play at the Omega European Masters at Cran-sur-Sierre Golf Club.
It’s also hard to believe this will be Matt’s first event on the DP World Tour this season having been based in America for most of the year. Both will need to make some adjustments to the altitude in Switzerland. Matt has the notes and experience from winning the event back-to-back in 2017 and 2018. It typically plays a club more, so you need be aware of the effect on spin at altitude. Low spinning drives can just fall out of the sky, which is why you will see players opting for a three wood off the tee instead.
It will also be the last event for players to shine in front of Luke Donald for that Ryder Cup pick. The one player I would seriously consider is Nicolai Højgaard, as he’s got fire power to take on the longest of players on American team. Plus, it is always a good idea to introduce rookies to the team. Robert MacIntyre and Yannik Paul will be right up there and like Højgaard, MacIntyre has won in Italy.