The most piercing shots of the 148th Open Championship so far were delivered not by golf balls, but rather through the pointed words of one of the game's most successful coaches. Pete Cowen was asked about the recent on-course antics of British golfer Matt Wallace. And he did not mince words.
In an interview with The Times published on Wednesday, Cowen condemned the fiery Wallace specifically for a berating he gave his caddie, Dave McNeilly, during the BMW International last month.
“He is a complete idiot and the European Tour has to do something about it,” Cowen, who works with Brooks Koepka and Gary Woodland among others, told The Times. “A b--------g is no good, a fine is no good. He needs a ban. It’s a form of cheating because you’re putting your opponent off. The best thing would have been if his caddie had dropped his bag — I’d have chucked it in the bloody lake — but that wouldn’t do Dave McNeilly any good.”
Wallace, the 23rd-ranked player in the world, shot a final-round 70 to finish tied for third at the BMW, two shots out of a playoff eventually won by Andrea Pavan. After, Bunkered reported the European Tour was reviewing the matter for potential caddie abuse, but no punishment was issued. Wallace, who was also widely criticized for a putter slam at the British Masters in May, apologized and vowed to improve his behavior on the eve of the Open.
Wallace's agent, Chubby Chandler, responded to Cowen's comments to Telegraph Sport's James Corrigan. Chandler contends, "Matt and Dave have a terrific relationship and are very close," and says, "Matt admits that sometimes his eagerness to succeed has got the better of him and has faced up to it, both with his team and the media."
Chandler also closed with a jab at Cowen:
“He’s a good kid who hasn’t smashed up markers or abused officials unlike some other players and to say he should be banned is utterly ridiculous. It’s funny, I remember a young player who I was on Tour with in the 70s who was renowned for his tantrums and snapping clubs. His name was Pete Cowen.”
Wallace will certainly be in a prominent spot at Royal Portrush: He's paired with Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed for the first two rounds.