Talk to John Fields these days and he’s likely to stress perspective. With his 63rd birthday just a few days in the rearview mirror, the legendary University of Texas men’s golf coach told his team before the season started last fall that perspective and flexibility would be the keys to having a big campaign.
Fields knew that even with a stacked roster that included the likes of Cole Hammer, Pierceson and Parker Coody, Travis Vick and Mason Nome that a number of obstacles could arise. COVID cases were waning as the fall season started but a new variant loomed that could easily throw wrinkles into the most well-crafted plans.
“I told them all to start the year, we have to be able to overcome whatever is thrown at us,” Fields said this week. “Obviously, I didn’t expect something like this.”
In “this,” Fields was referring to a freak accident during which each of the fraternal Coody twins would break their right arm in the same place while competing in a relay race after a workout in December. The twins are grandsons of former Masters champion Charles Coody.
“They are just so competitive,” Fields said. “I think they lost track of reality and fell into this deeply competitive world they live in.”
“All we cared about was winning the race, and we took it a little too far,” Pierceson told GolfChannel.com. “It was just a freak accident.”
This is, of course, a significant blow, not just to the Longhorns golf team, but to the amateur game in general. Pierceson is currently ranked third in the Golfweek/Amateurgolf.com men’s amateur rankings, behind only Texas Tech’s Ludvig Aberg and reigning U.S. Amateur champ James Piot (and one spot ahead of Texas A&M star Sam Bennett). Pierceson was even on Golfweek’s recent list of 10 players to watch as potential first-time winners on the PGA Tour in 2022. Parker is currently 80th in the rankings and has also had a significant impact on the program.
And although Fields said the twins are at about 70 percent in terms of recovery — he’s hoping they’ll get clearance to return to practice next week — due to a loss in strength and stamina, he expects them to miss at least one and maybe two or more tournaments in the spring season.
Still, Fields is preaching perspective. A product of the last 1950s, Fields said it’s easy to become overwhelmed in 2022 between the pandemic, instant information and divided politics.
“I remember the unrest of the ‘60s and ‘70s – the president of the United States was assassinated, Vietnam, the threat of nuclear war,” Fields said. “And you have to remember something. Championships were still won. The last couple years can feel a little like the end of the world to our guys. I’m just trying to give them some perspective on all this.”
As for the rest of the Longhorns, they’re still primed for a big spring, with Vick and Hammer expected to lead the way. Texas plays twice on national television before the Big 12 Tournament, which is at Whispering Pines this year, and Fields is hoping others will step up and take advantage of the opportunities with the Coodys on the sideline.
“Will Thomson is a guy who has a lot of experience, and I’m expecting him to come up big for us,” Fields said. “And there are three or four others with a great opportunity in front of them.”
Next up for Texas, which captured the Big 12 Match Play back in October, is a trip to the Southwestern Invitation in sunny Southern California.
Golfweek. . After Coody twins break their arms in freak accident, Texas golf focuses on spring. Available at: https://golfweek.usatoday.com/2022/01/13/texas-college-golf-pierceson-coody-parker/