The Monday Men
Monday used to be the golfers’ day of travel, a day of rest, or a day to do the laundry. Nowadays, that is not necessarily the case as some among the professionals believe that to start warming up on a Monday can give them an edge over the rest.
Patrick Reed inclines to that view. “Always a Monday man,” said the 2018 Masters champion in between wafting a series of bunker-shots onto a practice green at the start of WGC-HSBC Champions’ week at Sheshan. Li Haotong and Zhang Xinjun were two more of the Monday men.
Yet if the practice ground was busier than usual on the first day of this week, it was because of players like Joost Luiten, Taehee Lee and Bernd Wiesberger who, having flown in from afar, were out to fend off any jet-lag.
Luiten said that Mondays, in his days on the Challenge Tour, would be about taking his clothes to the laundry and, as often as not, ruining them in the process: “I never knew how long they needed in the wash or whether the wash should be cool or hot,” he explained.
He eventually got the hang of it, only by then he was making enough money to send everything to the laundry and take a well-earned rest and have a worry-free day to himself.
Lee was in the same position, only he emphasised that if he were in the middle of a run of tournaments, he would always devote a Monday to rest and relaxation.
Wiesberger, for his part, was doing nothing more than loosening up after having taken two weeks off following his win – the third of three in 2019 – in the Italian Open. There was the further point that he has been reveling in every shot he hits since he came back from what was a six-month break in 2018.
He had never had any wrist-worries before, but would you believe that a straightforward three-wood hit from the centre of a fairway last May could cause him to miss out on all tournament play until October. At the time, the hope was that the “sharp pain” which the shot detonated would disappear as quickly as it had arrived but there was no such luck. During the course of the recovery process, his confidence plummeted, along with his World Ranking; from the top 50, he sank to 185.
On the plus side, his months away had him treasuring the time he was able to spend with friends and family while making him realise just how desperate he was to get back to his old golfing routine.
He knew how tough it was going to be to work his way up the rankings again via a route of one smaller European Tour event after another but, as his caddie, Jamie Lane, says, that winning week in Denmark made all the difference. “His confidence started to flow again and he was on his way.”
His second win of the year came when he defeated Rory McIlroy and other stars in the Scottish Open at the Renaissance. Add in the Italian Open and Wiesberger was finally back where he feels he belonged. His ranking, at the start of this WGC-HSBC Champions week is a healthy 23.
Whatever, he is not planning on being a Monday-man next week. He does not expect to arrive at the Turkish event until Tuesday evening.