The so-called “Chubby Slam” can’t be dismissed as a coincidence, according to renowned European mind coach Karl Morris, who has worked with several of agent Chubby Chandler’s clients.
After Charl Schwartzel won the Masters, Rory McIlroy took the U.S. Open and Darren Clarke surprised everybody at the British Open, the Chubby Slam came to an end with Keegan Bradley’s PGA Championship.
While the influence of an agent in the majors made for good banter, Morris, whose clients have included Schwartzel and Clarke, wasn’t snickering.
“I think Chubby is instrumental in creating a very good atmosphere in that group of players,” said Morris, who will be in Toronto to give seminars the final week of October.
“He’s a very sociable person himself, he’s been a tour player himself and I think he’s probably — he would never call himself this — but he’s probably one of the best psychologists in the game, if not the best psychologist,” he said.
“He has a real in-depth understanding of how these players’ minds work. He knows what to say at the right time,” Morris added.
“I believe he spent a good bit of time with Rory after the Masters, after the collapse everybody wanted to talk about. I’m sure the words that he had with Rory were healing words.”
“(McIlroy) didn’t dwell on the Augusta setback and, a couple of months later, he’s won the U.S. Open.”
Chandler’s influence is more than psychology, according to Morris, who says a positive environment exists in Chandler’s stable of players that makes winning contagious.
“I think sometimes these guys who have played with each other in practice rounds over the years see one of their colleagues that does well, ... I think, almost subconsciously, there’s a belief that gets ignited that ‘I know I can play as well as Lee (Westwood),’ or ‘I can play as well as Darren,’ or whatever it is and that inspires them to actually then perform.”
Morris has seen that theory play out with 2010 U.S. Open champ Graeme McDowell, another member of Chandler’s stable who has worked with Morris..
“I spent a lot of time with Graeme over the years and very often, Rory would tag along and play practice rounds. It was subconsciously the same thing with Rory that he knows he’s as good a player as Graeme and he would follow in his footsteps,” he said.
What happens in that competitive, social environment, according to Morris, is that players don’t forget their original reason for taking up the game because they’re still having fun.
“I think sometimes what happens is (players) start to think that the important thing is the money and the status. Nobody, I think, came into the game for those reasons,” he said.
“They started playing golf because they just love the thrill of challenging themselves on a golf course, of learning how to control a golf ball, learning how to control their own emotions and their own reactions,” Morris said.
That’s the challenge facing Tiger Woods after all of the tumultuous events away from the golf course in the past few years. Morris hasn’t worked with Woods, but observes from afar that Tiger is more focused on mechanics than playing.
“Did he swing the club perfectly in 2000? No, I don’t think he did. Some coaches would say there were a lot of things wrong with his golf swing, but he was out there playing some of the best golf that any human has ever played,” he said.
“I think in those days, he seemed to be more in tune with the golf course and what he was trying to do on the golf course and playing shots. (Now) he does seem to be more mechanically-orientated in the way he’s thinking,” said Morris.
APPLIES TO RYDER CUP TOO
Morris’ theory may also explain Europe’s Ryder Cup dominance in recent years. “The current crop of European players, they’re a whole bunch of very, very good and talented players who do enjoy each other’s company, enjoy that team environment and that team aspect,” said Morris ... If you’re interested in the Morris seminars, see healthegolf.com ... Kevin Purcell, who has spent the past two years as general manager of Rebel Creek Golf Club in Kitchener, has been named executive director of the Ontario PGA.
FALL SERIES GETTING STAR POWER
First it was Tiger Woods playing a Fall Series event and now, world No. 1 Luke Donald will play this week’s Disney tournament as he looks to win the money titles on the PGA and European Tours. Webb Simpson, Donald’s main rival for the PGA Tour money title, will also be in the field. Who says you can’t have compelling TV without Tiger? ... You may hear a lot this week about how the late Earl McRae was fearless as a writer, but that’s just untrue. McRae admitted during a chat years ago that when athletes came gunning for him, which often was the case, he had to squeeze his cheeks to avoid unpleasantness, but the admirable thing was that it didn’t intimidate him to back off on his next feature/column. Usually glad to mentor anybody who would listen, McRae came from an era when it was all about the subject, not the writer. We need more like him. Just saying.