In another life, Gabriella Cowley might be playing in the Women’s Ashes or heading to the Women’s World Cup with the Lionesses instead of teeing it up at the Aramco Team Series – London this week.
Cowley was a sporting child prodigy who excelled at football and cricket before being introduced to golf by her father, a former Millwall centre-back whose career was cut short by injury, and finding that she preferred swinging a club to a bat or a boot.
Now 27, she is one of the rising stars of the Ladies European Tour and is hoping to continue her steady year-on-year progress with a first title on the circuit at Centurion Club in St Albans, where play begins on Friday.
“My dad used to be a professional footballer and he played golf in the afternoons. He used to take me to golf with him. We went to the range a few times and it just came from that,” she told City A.M.
“I used to play all different sports – I used to play cricket for Essex, I used to play football – so golf was actually the last one and I was probably better at the other sports, to be honest, but I really enjoyed golf and I could see the rewards were a lot bigger in golf too.”
Cowley earned the biggest payday of her career last month when she banked £52,000 for finishing tied for fifth at the Scandinavian Mixed, which features LET players going up against their male peers from the DP World Tour.
For the second year running she was the second best-placed woman in the field, having been tied for 15th when Swedish LPGA star Linn Grant stunned the field by winning the innovative event by nine strokes in 2022.
“It was really good to play with the guys. I feel like I know quite a few of them anyway. Just to be around them, see what they do, how they prepare, I felt was a great experience,” she said.
“I feel like I play better that week. I was playing pretty well leading into it, I just felt that kind of kick-started how I’ve been playing. The events after that I’ve been playing really nicely.
“It’s a bit of a different feel that week, which is nice but I also feel like you come away learning a little bit more as well.
“I like the format. Obviously it’s really difficult to get the course set up fairly. I feel in that aspect it probably favoured the guys a little bit more this year, with the length. For me to finish top five, I obviously played really well.
“It meant a lot to me. I’ve been putting in a lot of hard work so to get a good finish and good result was a big week for me. I’m just trying to get my win on the LET and I’ll keep doing the right things to get there but I feel like that was a big step in the right direction.”
Cowley targeting first LET win at Aramco Team Series – London
Two weeks after that Cowley was around the top of the leaderboard again, this time finishing tied for fourth at the Czech Ladies Open – her fourth top-10 finish on the LET this season and her ninth since the start of 2021.
The former English Girls’ Under-15 champion has steadily improved with each campaign. Having finished 33rd on the LET order of merit two years ago, she was 24th last year and currently lies 19th this season. A top-10 spot would boost her chances of fulfilling her ambition of qualifying for the LPGA.
She has won five tournaments as a pro, all since 2020 and all in the Rose Ladies Series, the string of English-based tournaments run by men’s star Justin Rose and wife Kate. As non-LET events, they have not satisfied Cowley’s craving for a first win on the tour.
“It’s pretty much my main goal. I feel that it’s close but it’s tough to win out there; there are a lot of good players and lots of competition. You’ve just got to keep doing the right thing and know that the time will come when the time is right,” she said.
“Every year, there’s always new players, new competition coming out and I think the standard is definitely rising. It’s a good thing, though, because I feel it pushes you to make your game better and better.
“For me it’s just about getting better every year. I try to get better every day and then at the end of the year I analyse and see how that went. It’s nice to see that the results are coming and the hard work is paying off.”
Harlow-born Cowley is looking forward to home comforts when she plays at Centurion Club this week, with the short distance to her native Essex set to mean extra support in the crowd from loved ones unable to attend more far-flung events.
Having thrived at the Scandinavian Mixed and finished tied for sixth at a previous Aramco Team Series event, in Jeddah in 2021, she has also shown an adaptability to different formats that could serve her well at the London leg this week.
“A lot of my friends and family are coming. We don’t get to play at home that much so it will be nice for them to watch me play. Centurion is close to me so I’m hoping to have quite a few people come,” Cowley said.
“I feel like the Aramco Team Series is a really good concept and everything that Aramco is doing for the tour is great. Obviously it’s a hard situation because we still do play our own result.
“You play your own game and the team takes care of itself, and I feel that’s how everyone approaches that week. If you’re playing well then the team is doing well.”