Date: November 17, 2015
Author: Mark Hayes, Huntingdale

Bowditch back — smaller and better than ever

Steve Bowditch would be the first person to tell you he hasn’t found many pies or beers he hasn’t liked in his 32 years.

Even during last year’s Australian Triple Crown tour with good mate from the US PGA Tour Boo Weekley, there were more post-round trips to fishing holes than practice ranges.

But this year, there’s a big difference.

Actually, check that – a far smaller difference.

About 16kg less, as a matter of fact.

The once burly Queenslander, now based in Texas with wife Amanda, clearly has long had the game to contend in the US, as evidenced by his Texas Open win in 2014 that propelled him into his first Masters appearance.

But in April this year, with the scales tipping towards 115kg, he knew it was time to act.

“I was just uncomfortable with myself and couldn't compete at the level, so that's what I decide I had to hire someone (a physio, Nick, who now travels with him on tour),” Bowditch said today as he prepares for the Australian Masters at Huntingdale.

“There was certain aspects (of my swing that) my coach, Scott Hamilton, really wanted me to get to and I just couldn't physically get there.  I knew that I had to make a change if we were to further my career and move forward.”

That meant diet and a lot of golf-specific gym work – and so effective was the regime that the kilos actually began flying off faster than expectations and, not coincidentally, aligned with a rapid surge in his peformances.

By May he’d won the time-honoured Byron Nelson, again in Texas, and the transformation process was going so quickly that the camp decided to ease back.

What followed was, although ultimately without trophies to show for it, arguably the best and most sustained spell of top-level golf in Bowditch’s career.

It included a run in which he began the last day of the Open Championship in contention and finished with a 20th place finish in the rich FedEx Cup at the Tour Championship and a maiden berth in the Presidents Cup team. It also secured him starts in the first three of next year’s major championships along with the WGC events.

In short, it was well worth the effort.

“We actually had to taper it off a little bit just because your swing changes so much when you're dropping that amount of weight.  So we're sort of slowly doing it right now and then we'll get back on it in the off-season,” he said.

“This year wasn't a year that I thought I would have … because I had dedicated myself to my body, so to speak.

“And then when … my performances started to get better and better, we had to taper off a little bit and not drop as much weight and be concerned with my body a little bit; we had to slow it down.

“So we are quite a long way behind where we want to be at this point but it was something that we had to readjust and now I'll be back on it in the next, probably start in two weeks.”

Again, not coincidentally, that’s at the end of an Australian campaign he’s taking more seriously than in years past.

“I haven't really, to be honest, put enough emphasis on Australian golf for my career in the last sort of three or four years.  It's just sort of been come back home, see my family, see my friends and then head back to the States.

“But this year, once I got to the Presidents Cup and once I got into the top 30, I've put a major emphasis on doing well this summer.”

Which all bodes well for both the Masters and next week’s Emirates Australian Open when, for possibly the first time in an already impressive career, Bowditch expects himself to do well.

“It's like any job you do.  If you keep working hard and keep moving up the levels, your expectations keeps going up and your expectation of your game and the people around you, the team that you have, you expect them to work hard if you're working hard and all that kind of stuff,” he said.

“I feel like I'm starting to every week now turn up and compete; not just compete, but go out there to hopefully have a chance on the back nine (on Sunday) where (in) years past, I guess I've only sort of felt that when I'm running on all cylinders.

“Now I sort of feel like I can not have my A Game (but) go out there and use other aspects of my game and (still) compete.”