• Swimming

Phelps had to come back - he would never win the Masters

Tom Pilcher
April 17, 2014
Michael Phelps' golf career was always unlikely to match his prowess in the swimming pool © Getty Images

Michael Phelps' coach says he is not surprised his prodigy is back in the pool, as his golf career was unlikely to ever hit the heights the American is accustomed to.

Bob Bowman, who has worked with Phelps since the 18-time Olympic gold medallist was 11 years old, says you only have to look at him to know he belongs in a pool and not on a golf course.

Phelps returns to competitive swimming on April 24-26 at the Arena Grand Prix, having featured in the Golf Channel's 'The Haney Project' in 2012, where he was tutored by Tiger Woods' former coach Hank Haney.

However, despite holing the longest televised putt from over 150 feet at the Dunhill Links Championship in 2012, Bowman says Phelps' golf career was always unlikely to match his prowess in the pool.

"People tend to naturally do what they're good at, right? Michael's built for swimming. That's just how it is," Bowman told ESPN.

"Michael could spend all the time he wants on golf, I don't think he's going to win the Masters.

"The mentality is transferable but I don't think the physical attributes are transferable. It takes too much time. Before 2000 he had already been swimming eight years and then it took another eight years to get him to Beijing which was really the peak of his performances."

Phelps - who owns a staggering 22 Olympic medals including his record eight-gold individual haul from a single Games in China six years ago - made his debut at Sydney 2000 as the youngest male US swimmer in 68 years but returned without a podium finish.

Undeterred, four years later in Athens he claimed six golds and two bronze medals, breaking world and Olympic records at will, before his flawless Beijing outing.

London 2012 yielded four more wins and two silvers, followed soon after by his retirement and then 'The Haney Project'.

Should the swimming not work out like before, Bowman believes his charge might one day make it to the PGA Tour.

"I think it's doable, but I think there's a difference on being on the PGA Tour and winning the Masters," said Bowman. "Winning major tournaments and being on the Tour - there are a lot of people on the Tour."

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