‘DANNY DIDN’T REALLY MATCH AUGUSTA CLICHE’
Pete Cowen may have his name attached to the Academy, but Mike Walker is a big reason why Willett and Fitzpatrick call it their second home. Cowen’s number two is the go-to coach for a large English contingent on Tour, including Chris Wood, Dave Horsey and Eddie Pepperell.
Walker’s workload means he clocks up plenty of air miles, and was even forced to cancel his honeymoon to travel to Augusta and oversee the preparations of Willett & Co. But had he turned his phone off when they were coming down the stretch on Sunday, Walker concedes he would have missed arguably the highpoint of his coaching career.
“I had to be up at ridiculous o-clock on the Monday morning so I went to bed when they reached the turn,” he told us. “Spieth was out in front at that point and about half an hour later my phone was going bananas. When Danny won, we had a couple of beers to celebrate... it’s still the only flight I’ve ever missed.”
Walker admits it took him a few days to get over the shock, but more so because of how events transpired on the back nine. “I’m not saying I knew he was going to win,” says Walker, “but it didn’t surprise me to see Danny in contention on Sunday. A lot of people think he came in off the radar, but he was performing very consistently and only just missed out in the Race to Dubai.
“His game was in good shape, but in a lot of ways he didn’t really match the clichés of Augusta by drawing the ball. He didn’t take full advantage of the par 5s either, but what separates Danny statistically is the shots between 150 and 225 yards. He is the elite of the elite and to score well at Augusta you need to leave yourself easy putts, which he managed to do.”