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Gabs Cowley has been lurking high up on the leaderboards of the Rose Ladies Series since the very start of the tour.
And last week at JCB Golf and Country Club she finally got her win.
Catching up with the Ladies European Tour star just before Round 6 at Bearwood Lakes, she’s predictably modest about how brilliant she’s been playing since the Series kicked off in June.
“I went to the first event at Brokenhurst Manor with no real expectations – I just wanted to get back playing and see what happened,” she admitted.
“ But I did work really hard on my swing during lockdown. Mainly just trying to simplify it, get it back to how it used to be and stop thinking things through too much.”
It certainly seems to have paid off. Gabs finished third at Brokenhurst, and then within the top 12 positions at the next three events at Moor Park, The Buckinghamshire and Royal St. George’s.
After that it was straight in with the win at JCB and a fantastic T10 finish at Bearwood Lakes.
“I’ve been playing really nicely in all of them to be honest," she said.
“But although I was hitting the ball really well my putting was letting me down. Then on the Tuesday before JCB I put a new TaylorMade putter in my bag and suddenly I was holing all the putts without doing anything differently.”
The last few holes at JCB proved problematic for all the key players who were in the lead: Gabs lost three shots and Georgia Hall and Charley Hull both got two double bogies leading them to finish –1.
“I’m quite surprised by how many people found the last few holes as challenging as they did. It shows they were hard though and we were playing into the wind," she said.
“I saw the leaderboard on the 12th and there were about six or seven players all four or five under, but for the last few holes we had no idea how anyone else was doing. I only knew about Georgia because we were in the same group. Walking back to the clubhouse we were trying to get the leaderboard up as quickly as possible.”
Part of one of the first groups to go out, Gabs then had hours to wait before she found out if she had won or not.
“I was sat in the clubhouse for three and a half hours just refreshing the scores. Everyone was trying to talk to me and I couldn’t even make eye contact with anyone because I couldn’t look away from the leaderboard.”
Like Gemma Dryburgh who won the two previous events before her, Gabs had her Dad caddying for her and so she was able to share her win with him.
“It was brilliant having him there,” she reflected.
“He comes to watch me practice all the time and he’s the one who has been there for me the most out of everyone in my team. To win with him by my side was really special.”
“It’s not a usual thing for him to caddy for me, it’s just been during the Rose Series because of the coronavirus restrictions and he has done a few in Europe with me before.”
Extremely likable and popular within the industry, many of golf's big players reached out on Twitter to congratulate her on her win, including co-founder of Modest! Golf Mark McDonnell. He founded the golf management company along with former One Direction member Niall Horan, and we've been writing about them a lot recently since the business partnered up with the mixed-gender Clutch Pro Tour.
“He’s a really good friend and he has helped me quite a lot," she noted.
"He’s a brilliant supporter of the women’s game in general."
Her close friend Annabel Dimmock is another who has been shining throughout the Series.
“Annabel and I spend most weeks on tour together and we played a few practice rounds for these events. We're really good friends and we push each other to try and bring the best out of ourselves. She’s been playing really nicely so it would be great if she won one on the Series. If I don’t win an event I always hope does. I would be so happy for her.”
It’s also been a nice opportunity for Gabs to catch up with some of the girls who are now based in America. Players such as Georgia Hall, who she was grouped with at both JCB and Bearwood Lakes.
“I’m good mates with Georgia, we played in the amateur England events and the Curtis Cup together,” she said.
“I don’t see her as much now that she plays in America so it’s been so nice to have the opportunity to play with her. It actually boosts my confidence to see her play. I like to compare my game to hers and see what she does differently and what I do or don’t need to improve.”
In fact, the Rose Series has been vital preparation for all the English players ahead of the LET restarting with with the Ladies Scottish Open and Women’s Open in Scotland next month.
“The Rose Series has been organised so well and so professionally - it really feels like a proper competition and it’s nice to have that feeling back,” she said.
“If it wasn’t for the Series a lot of us wouldn’t have had the chance to play at all. We would have had six months of nothing and then straight into two of the biggest events on the calendar.”
So, like pretty much all of us, she would love to see it turned into an annual fixture.
“If we could have one every year to fill in the gaps on the schedule it would be brilliant, it obviously isn’t as busy as we would like it to be at the moment. Everyone enjoys playing in England too and it’s been so nice and easy to be able to stay at home and just travel up that day and play and then go home again. I think a lot of people would want to come along and watch as well.”
She can definitely say that again.
Looking ahead to the rest of the year, Gabs is just desperate to get travelling again. She’s particularly hopeful that the Omega Dubai Moonlight Classic will still be going ahead saying it was the best event they had all year in 2019.
Gabs hopes to play in America in the not too distant future, but not until she feels ready for it.
“I want to try and build myself up to being a regular top 10 player on the LET before I go and try America,” she said sensibly.
“I’ve actually only ever played over there with the Curtis Cup. It would be great if I got there in maybe the next year or so.”
With Sports Marketing Surveys looking to award a scholarship to a LET player who is looking to earn their LPGA card, perhaps Gabs could be in the running as the lucky recipient...
Either way, we’re sure she will continue to impress throughout the rest of the Series.
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