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Marcus Armitage

Why the European Tour is a far better place with this guy around

Marcus Armitage has turned his career around in the past couple of months – and we're all reaping the rewards
 

You can tell a lot by a person after a big week at the office and one of the constants with Marcus Armitage, aside from the very funny bits, is the ease in which he thanks those nearest and dearest to him.

It’s not a token, nauseating ‘insert high-end watch brand’ effort, more an explanation of how they’ve kept him going, like last year where he earned less than €15,000 – can you imagine flogging yourself silly, with such an enormous skill set, for so little return in a sport where the outlay is so vast.

After five days at Q School we had a chat where, by the end of it, Armitage couldn’t keep the tears back. The year had been a stinker, he felt like he was badly letting down those around him and, put simply, it wasn’t happening.

Now it is. A day later at Lumine he was, despite the slaps on the back, disappointed by his overall 13th-place finish as he wanted to take the top spot. He reasoned that in a couple of days that he’d probably be able to see the positives but not quite yet.

Then at Leopard Creek a couple of weeks later he had the chance to get his season back in the big time off to a flyer and ease his financial worries but he would birdie the last two holes for an 83. Then came this video and a refreshing take on professional sport.

Now he’s off to Royal St George’s for his second Open appearance and with it he pocketed over five times more than he did throughout 2019. And, sure enough, he dedicated his efforts in South Africa to his girlfriend.

“This one’s for Lucy. I can tell her that she doesn’t have to do any nails that week, she can book it off and we can go and enjoy the Open.

“Where I was a few months ago, I was off the cliff. I’ve turned it around. A few people have given me a few keys to change my life and that’s proof you can do it, you can do it in months. I’m a product of the hard work that I’ve put in.”

Those around him include coach Anthony Sheehy and his performance coach Duncan McCarthy. Again Armitage will often, unprompted, point his thanks their way.

As for his chances at Sandwich then the 31-year-old isn’t going to just make up the numbers.

“I’m looking to win it. It’s the best championship on the planet for me, it’s everything. That is the dream. People say to you, ‘You’re on the European Tour, you’re living the dream’. No – the dream is when I’ve got a Claret Jug in my pocket and I’m off to find the other three.”

A bit of bluster you might think from a player who’s had a big week? Watch Armitage in the flesh and you’d soon change your mind on that. He’s the one you’d stop on the range to watch and he’s the one who looks as natural as anyone out there – amazingly he got down to scratch without having any lessons.

Even the way he got his nickname The Bullet is out of the golfing norm. A fellow player Matt Nixon told him he needed a nickname so he sent a bit of kit off to the States to get it embroidered with ‘The Bulldog’ on it, given his love of dogs. It came back with ‘The Bullet’ and it stuck.

As well as the Open start in July Armitage will now get a place in this week’s field in Abu Dhabi. Things are changing nicely for him and the European Tour’s a far brighter place for it.

Mark Townsend

Been watching and playing golf since the early 80s and generally still stuck in this period. Huge fan of all things Robert Rock, less so white belts. Handicap of 8, fragile mind and short game

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