Virtue of hope helps Oliver Wilson bounce back to winning ways

Fairytale story of golfing redemption for a man who kept the faith

It is often wisely quoted to a flagging player on tour that it only takes a week to turn things around. This mantra tends to be used more so at this crucial stage of the year when underperforming golfers are thinking of their future status on tour.

The short-term fix may seem a bit misleading but in reality it is true. Whether it is the player’s performance on any given week that spurs him on to a run of good finishes or it all happens on the one week, a golfer’s welfare can be very much enhanced in the short space of four rounds of golf.

I arrived at St Andrews clubhouse on Monday evening last week and bumped into a face that I knew very well but had pushed to the back of my mind. It was Ollie. But I had forgotten his surname. It wasn't Ollie Fisher it was the other Ollie that had made an impression on tour some six years ago. "Ollie, Oliver you know his name . . ," I prompted my colleague. We teased the surname Wilson out after a couple of minutes of memory jogging.

Yes of course, the guy who lost in a play-off to Sergio Garcia in the World Golf event in Shanghai in 2009. The one who played on the Ryder Cup team in Valhalla in 2008, who partnered Henrik Stenson and made a memorable foursomes comeback from four down to win a point from Anthony Kim and Phil Mickelson. The guy who was a serious contender on the European Tour for many years, finishing second nine times until his game started to slowly slip away to the oblivion of a lowly status on the Challenge Tour.


Financial advisor

So how do you go from zero to hero in the cut -throat world of professional golf ? The answer is to have an endless supply of optimism and hopefully a prudent financial advisor who warned you about the possible dark clouds ahead and the necessity for a chunk of emergency money. Oliver Wilson was digging deep into his reserves after losing his European Tour playing rights in 2011 and ending up on the Challenge Tour in 2102.

Having spent the past couple of years on Europe's secondary tour, there is no doubt the former top 50 player was having his own belief in his ability challenged. Marcel Proust, the French writer, maintained that hope is the worst quality of man.

There are a lot of players who don’t read philosophy and if they do they are not in accordance with Proust when it comes to hope. Without an excess of optimism you would struggle to tee the ball up every day in a game where talent is separated by the power of the positive and unyielding belief in one’s self.

Modest terrains

After a couple of years of carrying your own bag around the modest terrains of the secondary tour in Europe your ego must take a battering and the logical cry of ‘enough is enough’ must echo in the isolated tumbling golfer’s head in a lonely budget hotel room with none of the frills he had been accustomed to as a former major contender on tour.

When do you call it quits? The reality for almost every golfer is never, you would have to be dragged kicking and screaming into insanity before a former challenger will admit the day of reason, because they are all dogged with the Proustian malaise of hope.

Just as well for Wilson that he was humble enough to ask for an invite to the relatively rich Dunhill Links Challenge. Tournament benefactor Johan Rupert is a compassionate man and would have had a long list of players that had pleaded for a start in his unique pro-am styled event at the home of golf.

He gave one of his invites to a player ranked in world oblivion. From a publicity perspective, a win for Rory adds more weight to the status of his event. From a humane angle, Oliver Wilson’s story is the fairytale that Rupert will dine out on for the rest of his philanthropic life.

Elite club

Wilson can join a very elite club of ‘comeback-kids’ who have hit the bottom and confounded the pundits by finding glory again. From

Steve Stricker

in the States to Henrik Stenson and

Michael Campbell

in Europe. They all have stories to recount about the doleful existence at the bottom having enjoyed head-spinning success.

Armed with hope and a strong work ethic they clawed their individual ways back to where they always believed they rightlfully belonged.

Two-time European Tour winner Robert Rock has been coaching Ollie of late and his tutelage has meant that his star pupil has now got past his tutor by 50 places on the Order of Merit.

For anyone who erroneously believes that playing golf for a living is a glamorous lifestyle, just ask Wilson how he enjoyed his last few years.

We can all rejoice at this fairytale story of redemption for a man who wouldn’t give up. The reason is of course because he is both dogged and blessed with the ability to play good golf. He had just forgotten how to play well over the past few years but always believed that one day he could play well again. It took one week to erase the anguish of the past three years for Ollie. I am so happy that he did.