Golf: Player criticises modern coaches

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The Independent Online
OVER-COACHING has destroyed some of the finest golfers in the world, including Nick Faldo and Ian Baker-Finch, according to Gary Player.

The South African, in Sydney for the Greg Norman International, believes that modern-day coaches are brainwashing players and removing the art of playing on instinct.

"These coaches are like flies around these guys," he said. "They are on the practice tee, the chipping green, the bunkers, the putting green. Now when the bell rings, man, these guys can't go on. They are saying `where's my coach?' "

Player, 63, said he did not agree with coaches travelling constantly with competitors and cited Faldo and Baker-Finch as severe cases of "paralysis- by-analysis."

"I see what's happened to Nick Faldo. Here was the world's greatest player. Now the guy can't play at all," he said. "When he makes a cut I'm astounded.

"You know how good Ian Baker-Finch was. This is one of the saddest things I ever saw in golf. This guy was one of the top 20 best players in the world. The guy can't play at all. I mean they go from champion golfer to rank bad golfer."

Until recently Faldo was coached by David Leadbetter, whom he credited with helping him win six majors, but Faldo has dipped dramatically in the world rankings, failing to win on the US tour in two years.

Baker-Finch, the 1991 Open champion, no longer plays tournament golf after a disastrous slump in form.

"They get over-coached," said Player, who has never had a regular coach and won nine majors, including three Opens and three US Masters.

"The players are being brainwashed. It's not just hitting a golf ball that wins a tournament. That's only 10 per cent of it. You have to trust your own instinct."