SANDWICH, England -- At the 1985 Open Championship at Royal St. George's, mental game coach Peter Crone was a teenager working as what the Brits call a “litter boy.” This time around, rather than picking up the trash, he's cleaning up after the man known as “Junkman,” Fredrik Jacobson, along with Charles Howell III.
Crone grew up in a village called St. Margarets Bay, but rode the train every day for nine years to Sandwich, where he attended Sir Roger Manwood's School.
"Twenty-six years later, here I am at Royal St. George’s, but instead of picking up crap from the ground, I’m taking the crap out of professional people's heads," said Crone, who fancies himself as a "Chief Inspirer."
Crone, who also works with Major League Baseball’s Arizona Diamondbacks, Hollywood actors and businessmen, says his mission involves "helping people realize their potential and I do it by removing the constraints of their mind." In other words, he helps people get out of their own way.
This week is a bit of a homecoming for Crone. Based in Santa Monica, Calif., he's returned to his old stomping grounds in Southern Kent to accompany Jacobson and Howell at the Open. Both players started working with Crone at the '09 Barclays, and also happen to be currently playing some of the best golf of their careers.
"They’re kicking butt, purely because of what I do," Crone quipped at the driving range on Wednesday morning. "Nothing else. The fact they've been playing golf for decades has no influence."
Jacobson captured his first victory in 188 starts on the PGA Tour last month at the Travelers Championship. A week prior, he placed T14 at the U.S. Open. Jacobson tied for sixth in '03 when the Open was last held at Royal St. George's.
"Freddy has the biggest heart," said Crone. "He’s one of the most driven and competitive people I’ve ever met. Ironically, we worked on him not trying so hard.
"He’s naturally driven so he doesn’t need to -- especially of late when he’s in contention -- he doesn’t need to push anymore. For him, to play his game is sufficient."
Meanwhile, Howell, who earned a spot in the field at the last minute after three consecutive top-five finishes, is known to labor on the mechanics of the swing.
"Charles was always trying to get everything right, so for him, it was more trying to stop being so perfect all the time," said Crone.
On Wednesday afternoon Crone had plans to pop by the school he attended in Sandwich from 1980 to 1989.
"Fredrik wanted to go and see my old school," he said. "I was the head boy at the school so my name is up in wood somewhere from 20-plus years ago, so it’ll be interesting to see that."