In this week’s Player Blog presented by Enterprise Rent-A-Car, European Tour player Marcel Siem, shares his story on training with an MMA coach, why he's opted to drive to all events and his memorable return to The Open.
This year with all the issues surrounding flying, and then having to get a rental car for a hour or so drive to the hotel, I thought why not just drive to each event. Since I got my new car back in April time, I've already driven more than 20,000 miles, and am currently on the way to Prague having come from back home in Germany. Living where I do in Germany, being in central Europe, driving to events allows me to keep my fishing rods in the car, so that's a little bonus and very convenient.
Spending so much time in the car also means I go through a lot of different playlists on Spotify. I've mainly been listening to R&B, House and a bit of trance music. I’ve also found that I can get a lot practical bits done such as making lots of phone calls, but my goal is also to learn French so this is a perfect opportunity to learn.
I was due to fly to Scotland for the Scottish Open, I had a flight booked but just before I set off for the airport, I said forget it, I’m going to drive to Scotland and do it under my terms. It was only 12 hours, plus the following week was near London, so it was a lot more fun and made a lot of sense to me. I’m finding I am a lot less stressed when arriving at a venue as I feel I’ve got my home with me, just my wheels.
I was sitting in Mauritius after the season in 2019, having lost my card, feeling very down whilst waiting for my family, I didn’t know what to do. I was not in a good place. I went to quite a few sports psychologists and mental coaches, but nothing really clicked with them. Then I received a call from a good friend of mine, Michael Blesch, saying I know a great guy you should have a word with, and that was Holger Fischer. We clicked straight away, maybe it was because he was German too, but he helped me big time and got me back on track.
I had a lot of bad thoughts but giving up golf was never an option. I’m not a quitter, I never gave up and will never give up. Life is too short. I may have been negative, but I had the fire in me to fight back.
The turning point for me was accepting that I was on the Challenge Tour now, rather than thinking I’m a four-time winner and should be on the European Tour. And that’s thanks to Holger. I started to enjoy playing golf again and in turn I started to play better. I’m so grateful that I can travel the world and play the best sport in the world. This is what he taught me, and I love him for that.
A major change is that I no longer put a lot of pressure on myself in practise each week. Holger really put it in my head that I am a feel payer, rather than a hardcore technical player. He said listen to your body, trust your guts, and leave the range or putting green once you’ve hit good shots. I played 13 weeks in a row, and that was all down to the advice from Holger. This is because I didn’t go to the range for 3 hours a day. I continued to work on my body and practise of course, but I put a lot less stress on my body and mind.
One of the biggest changes is now working every day with MMA fighter Paul Götte via facetime. We do a lot of core training, shoulder mobility and flexibility in the hips. This has made a huge difference for me, my body feels awesome, and I’m very happy with the strength and flexibility I have for a 41-year-old. When I went back home to Germany I went in the ring with him. I nearly threw up after going for three rounds of five minutes. But it was a great experience.
Finishing 2020 well was very important for me. I had a whole new team with me, I was 1200 in the world, so it had to be baby steps. The expectations had to be make cuts first, then top 50, then top 40 and so on. So finishing sixth in South Africa in my first event was a huge boost. The Challenge Tour doesn't get anywhere near enough credit that it deserves. It's full of fighters and players who want to win. Finishing fourth in Sweden was another positive, it was massive. I had confidence that I had the ability to compete.
For the whole family, they went through two bad years with me. My win in France was huge for everyone and meant the world. And to have my daughter with me made it even more special, it’s something I’ve always dreamt of. It was so cool.
My daughter was with me for the week and the whole week asked me not to say "I’ll try to win", but to say "I will win". From Wednesday onwards we were talking to each other saying “We will win. We will win. We will win.”
She was so patient on Sunday, staying quiet. But once I had submitted my card, she lost the plot. It was so cute. Every time I got a little impatient or moaning at a lip out, she told me to shut up and to get on with it. It was crazy. But I loved it.
Last week Marcel Siem completed a dream, winning in front of his daughter on the Challenge Tour.— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) July 17, 2021
The win qualified him for @TheOpen and now he’s inside the Top 10 going into the final round.#TheOpen
I very nearly chose not to play in The Open. If there wasn’t any dual points or 10% of prize money going to the Challenge tour, my decision would’ve been a lot harder. Everyone kept saying “oh you have to play”, but it was hard. My focus was on the Challenge Tour, and my rankings. I was nervous. But once I heard that points count towards the Challenge Tour, I thought let’s have some fun.
When you win a competition, you’re full of confidence. I knew I could compete half decent. But playing that steady, under that pressure was awesome. The spectators really supported me, which was amazing. But never did I expect to finish in the top 15.
Once you make the cut at The Open, you really feel the pressure hit you. And especially after 13 weeks on the road, the tiredness hit me really bad. Over the weekend I was focussed on relaxing. We were allowed to take an hour a day to do yoga and stuff outside. On Sunday morning I went in the ocean, took some time to relax and chill. But as soon as I walked onto the golf course, I was there. Fully focussed, and felt full of energy. The crowd really helped me, they gave me a massive boost.
I received a text from Bernard Langer and said how happy he was for me returning to the winners circle, how I played during The Open and how I’ve brought myself back, so I felt really proud when he did that.
What he is doing for the sport is amazing. How well he plays at his age, with his commitment is awesome. He’s an inspiration.
Having been playing for over 20 years I’ve learnt some big lessons. Staying patient is the most important thing on the golf course. Another has to be being nice to yourself. Don’t be too hard to yourself. Preparation is key, and having the right team around you which helps time management and making things as easy as possible for yourself. This is something Holger has helped me with recently.