Spent a very interesting few days in Abu Dhabi, not least witnessing the behind the scenes activities of Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy.
Lee does an unbelievable amount of work in the gym under the watchful eye of Steve McGregor and the results have been for all to see during the last few years. It is no coincidence that Lee’s rise has run in parallel with how honed his body is.
Rory also does a lot of preparation which goes unnoticed although anybody who got to see his hands in Abu Dhabi could not have failed to notice the amount of blisters he has – the product of hitting countless practice balls.
What I also saw in Rory as he finished runner up to Germany’s Martin Kaymer, now world number two behind Lee, was a new-found maturity in his game.
Rory has always been a player who has looked up, seen a flag and gone for it, but now he knows the ones to keep away from and those he can attack. It’s all part of the learning curve and Rory is a very quick learner. I am sure he will be in contention more and more this season.
It’s going to be very interesting watching the race to depose Lee at the top of the rankings, but I expect Rory to join the chase very soon and also Ernie Els when he returns from his winter break.
I also anticipate big strides to come from Chris Wood and Dave Horsey this year. The pair have put in a lot of hard work preparing for this season and they can expect to be rewarded. Ross McGowan is also showing that his fitness problems are behind him while Joost Luiten continues to extend the progress he made last year.
With our South Africans in brilliant form, it’s good news wherever we turn so I’m already thinking our fourth win of the season will come very soon... and it isn’t even the end of January yet.