Fisher shows promise with Czech Open win
Monday, August 22, 2011
The future just keeps getting brighter for the European Tour. Add Oliver Fisher's name to a long list of good young players on the Euro circuit.
Fisher's victory at the Czech Open, his first Tour win, is long overdue, and hopefully heralds the first of a slew of victories from the talented Englishman.
Many pundits - me included - thought Fisher would push Rory McIlroy hard these last few seasons for the honor of best young European player. While Rory has gone from talented amateur to major winner in one seamless stream, Fisher found that the road to success doesn't always follow the "star is born" script.
These two young men were chosen for greatness years ago when they first met as members of Sir Nick Faldo's elite squad of youngsters. I first saw both as 14-year-olds and they stood out from their peers by miles. I watched Fisher play in the McEvoy Trophy, and he looked as good as boys four years older than him.
It came as no surprise when Fisher was selected to the 2005 Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup team - at 16 becoming the youngest Walker Cup player ever. Nor was it a surprise when he got his card the following year, taking the 5th spot at the European Tour Qualifying School.
Fisher didn't set the Tour on fire initially, but he established himself pretty quickly. He kept his card his first year, and then finished 51st on the money list in 2008. He came close to his first victory that year when he lost a playoff to Thomas Levet in the Open de Andalucia. That reinforced the feeling that it was only a matter of time before Fisher broke through.
Then came the struggles. Fisher lost his game, his swing and his confidence.
The man from Essex, England had to go back to the Q School at the end of 2009 after finishing 125th on the money list. He managed to get his European Tour card back but the last two years have been hard.
Fisher has gone through two coaching changes in the last three years. In 2009 he split with long time coach Chris Jenkins and started working with Denis Pugh, coach to the Molinari brothers, Edoardo and Francesco. That only lasted a few months before he began working with coach Pete Cowen, coach to Lee Westwood and many other top players.
Slowly but surely, Fisher has rediscovered his mojo, finally hitting pay dirt at the Czech Open.
"I can't really explain what it means," Fisher said. "It feels fantastic. I've put a lot of hard work in and to come out, my fifth season on Tour, to finally have won it feels like now I'm there. I've proven to myself I can win.
"It just shows what the game of golf can do - how bad it can be and how great it can be."
One win does not necessarily turn a player into a world beater, but hopefully this victory will give the affable Englishman the confidence to push on and challenge for more European Tour wins.
With his talent, Fisher should be winning tournaments like the Czech Open with regularity. He should be giving McIlroy a run for the tag of best young European Tour player.
This might be when Fisher really shows how great he can be.