June 7, 2023

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Once, due to golf, Guardiola missed City’s championship moment. This is his crazy love

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But the schedule and the weather spoil everything.

When Arsenal visited Liverpool a couple of weeks ago for one of the most important games in the title race, Pep Guardiola must have been among the most engaged spectators. But the Man City coach had other plans: to watch the match of Bayern (the rival in the Champions League quarter-finals) and enjoy watching golf.

Golf instead of blockbuster at Anfield? 

Nothing new for Pep. Because of golf, he even missed the moment when he first became the champion of England.

In April 2018, City were preparing for their first title with the Catalan. The champagne had already been cooled, but the celebrations at the stadium were interrupted by neighbors from United, who won the Manchester derby. And they also presented an unexpected gift in the next round, losing to the outsider West Bromwich.  

Pep promised in advance that there would be no formal pursuer to follow the match: “Nope. I have three days off. Tomorrow is golf with my son and friends.”

And so he did. 

Guardiola’s company that day was made up of son Marius and professional golfer Tommy Fleetwood (now a 6-time winner of the European Tour). After playing enough and drinking beer together (“The best moment in golf”, as Pep says), they headed home. Then the weather deteriorated sharply, the car got stuck in a traffic jam. Then Marius reached into the phone and exclaimed in surprise: “We won the Premier League!” 

“That’s how I knew we were champions – in traffic in the pouring rain. Not quite how I imagined it, ”recalls Guardiola in the book Pep’s City: The Making of a Superteam. 

Pep generally likes to talk about golf. Last year before the defining game against Liverpool, he grumbled about the schedule: “I’m a little upset that the Premier League set the game on the day when Tiger Woods returns!” And saluting the retired Gareth Bale, Guardiola admitted that he once offered Gareth to play, but was refused: “Then he was busy. Maybe he’ll have time now.” 

Why don’t we often see Pep with a stick? The busy schedule and the weather are to blame.

“We have been living in Manchester for six or seven years now. I don’t know what people think in the UK or Ireland, but in my opinion it is more pleasant to play golf when the weather is like in Mallorca, Pep reasoned in an interview entirely devoted to golf. – During the season we have matches every three or four days. But even if I say to myself: “Well, tomorrow – golf” – it happens that in the morning I open the curtains and see the rain. Then I stay in bed and don’t go anywhere.”

Pep learned golf as a football player at the age of 25. Now his level is being pulled up by the same Tommy Fleetwood, with whom he was on the day of the first championship with City. But it really often doesn’t work out to exercise – both Guardiola and Fleetwood are terribly loaded. Fleetwood also teases: “I don’t learn anything from him. Didn’t hear any advice. At all. This is a one way street. So tell him.” 

A handicap system is used to assess the skills of amateur golfers. In short: a handicap indicates how many overtime shots a player will need to close the field (read more here ). For Pep, this indicator fluctuates around 14-10 – out of 54 possible, with progress, the golfer lowers the handicap. An extremely good result.