Golf review 2023: 'Still a lot in the tank for Brooks Koepka'

Harrington will be in Dubai in January and I predict another big year for the ageless Irishman

By Peter Cowen

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Peter Cowen reflect on how he and his players  performed over the last 12 months. - Photo by Peter Cpwen X
Peter Cowen reflect on how he and his players performed over the last 12 months. - Photo by Peter Cpwen X

Published: Tue 19 Dec 2023, 7:17 PM

What a short break at the end of the year it is for all the golf tours around the world.

For some of the tours, it is a mid-season break with the 2023 - 24 Order of Merits already in full swing.

I am not sure I fully understand that and I am still a fan of an annual calendar year season. But it is what it is.

The end of the year gives me a little time to reflect on how my players and indirectly me have performed over the last 12 months.

For my performance in 2023, I will give myself a B+.

Highlights for me include Victor Perez (Fr) getting his PGA Tour status for next year. That was always the main target for Victor.

Victor had a flying start at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship at Yas Links Abu Dhabi and kept going throughout the year.

Brooks Koepka continued to show us all he is still one of the best players around. He won two LIV Golf events in Orlando and Jeddah and finished third in the season-long LIV Golf Standings and had a brilliant Major win at the 2023 US PGA Championship and a second-place finish at The Masters.

If I win a Major in a year – it always makes it memorable.

There is still a lot in the tank for Brooks, who is still only 33 years old. He just needs to play a bit more golf to be tournament-sharp for the whole of the 2024 season.

Danny Willett will return soon from his shoulder injury and we wish him well. Danny has proven to be a winner on the biggest stages including Augusta, the HERO Dubai Desert Classic, the DP World Tour Championship and the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth. These are all big tournaments at impressive venues.

Matt Fitzpatrick (Eng) along with my coaching buddy Mike Walker – had a steady year and is ranked eighth in the Official World Golf Ranking. His win at Harbour Town in the RBC Heritage was the highlight and very special for Matt and his family.

I have been coaching Padraig Harrington for around 12 years and this year he has nearly had an outstanding year. He lost two Major play-offs on the Champions Tour. He continues to defy his age, stays fit and is so desperate to play good golf – is he perhaps the next Bernhard Langer? Harrington will argue he is the first Harrington with three Majors to his name – with Langer just two.

Harrington will be in Dubai in January and I predict another big year for the Irishman.

Joaquin Niemann is still only 26 years old and recently won on the DP World Tour. I work on his short game and he gets into The Open by this performance.

Harold Varner III won on LIV and I am hoping for improved performances from Thomas Pieters, Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell and Henrik Stenson.

Just one final personal comment on the state of golf at the moment. As a student of the game and a golf fan, it really looks, in my eyes, to be in a bit of a mess – the Official World Golf Ranking is seemingly not that relevant at the moment.

My New Year’s wish is that the best players in the world play more often against each other.

I am fearing that, as it stands, in 2024 this will not be the case.

Recent back-to-back winners on the DP World Tour, Louis Oosthuizen and Dean Burmester will not be in the field at The Masters in April. Neither is Joaquin Niemann.

Surely, all three deserve a spot.

Let’s hope the leadership of the game of golf around the world all come together and decide what is good for the game, whatever that means these days, I am not sure. But more on that in a future Peter Cowen column.

Best wishes to all my friends in the UAE and around the world this Christmas and see you all soon – the 2024 golfing calendar will begin in just a couple of weeks!

Peter Cowen, 72, is arguably, the world’s leading golf coach. He has his golf academies at Emirates Golf Club and Dubai Creek Resort as well as his Headquarters in Rotherham, England.

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