I love the Masters and Augusta National. It is my favourite sporting event, in my favourite arena. And this year we were treated to entertainment that rarely surfaces in the late stages of sport. Thrilling. I had zero problem with either man winning and loved every minute.
I have some observations that I hope can assist your game that evolved from Sergio outlasting Justin Rose.
- Your driver is important. Sergio hit it long (291 plus) and findable (80 percent of fairways). His tee shots on 15 and 18 in both regulation and the playoff were all drivers that history will remember.
- If your driver is important, then you had better have some great wedge skills from every distance. There is little benefit in laying up to a “favourite distance,” even if the network mouths tout it weekly. Firstly, you rarely hit to your exact distance anyways – get the ball as close to the green as soon as you can, always avoiding hazards, and have confidence in your 3-4 wedges that it’s now a par 2-3 from that spot.
- Penalties are NOT just the regular OB, water, etc. They include 3 putts, punchouts, more than one chip/pitch/sand shot and the like. Penalties often result in double bogeys. Double bogeys are fatal. Sergio had exactly zero double bogeys. None. He three-putted once in four days.
- Sergio DID get into trouble, as we do, and he took the “90% route” out of difficulty. Yes, his tee shot on 13 turned out poorly. He took his medicine (and if you email me with some sort of concern regarding the ball moving it will go without answer – get a life, please), punched out, hit a terrific wedge and made the putt. He took double bogey out of play and with one wedge made par. Hero shots and risks rarely pay off.
- Jordan Spieth will win the Masters again, no question. His Friday and Saturday were magnificent. He then went out flag hunting and got burned time and again on Sunday. When in a difficult situation (I think competing in the Masters qualifies) hit your approach shots to the fat side of the green taking your personal shot pattern into account. Do yourself a huge favour and visit www.birdiefire.com and investigate Scott Fawcett’s Decade Golf game management system. Firing at flags consistently is not how winners win. Jack Nicklaus’ game plans included waiting for others to make mistakes by being overly aggressive. Renowned Sport Psychologist Dr. Bob Rotella has some sage advice: make aggressive swings at conservative targets. I think Sergio did this on 18 twice on Sunday. On 15 it’s my believe he had a great yardage for his 8 iron, and the flag was in the middle of his typical shot pattern (You and Sergio and all of us have a “shotgun” pattern as end results of our swings – we ain’t a sniper rifle. This is proven on Trackman.), so he hit a typical aggressive shot and we will never forget the result. On 18 it’s my believe that he moved the target a trifle to the right so he could ensure any mistake would not be short-sided, but on the green. Twice.
- Given Sergio’s history it would have been easy to have a huge mental letdown walking off 18 in regulation. He had not won in 73 major starts and had lost a few in excruciating fashion. He had followed up a few performances deflecting, alleging outside influences affecting the outcome, even going so far as to state he may not be cut out for these sorts of situations. But he did nothing other than accept his situation, made a strong swing without fear of the consequences, and made another in similar fashion. Fear of consequence is a constant option for all golfers. Some choose it, some allow fear to choose them, some accept that fear pops up and they DEAL. Some times it doesn’t work out in victory, or a career best. But it DOES facilitate handling fear and adverse situations more successfully next time. GIVING UP FACILITATES GIVING IN. QUITTING FACILITATES QUITTING. It’s always an option. Ignore it, repeatedly if you need to, as many times as you need to, and keep moving.
- Sportsmanship is fun, and it can help your game. Who didn’t love watching the final twosome compliment each other in words and gestures? Who didn’t love Kuchar signing a historic ball and give it to a child? Who didn’t marvel at Spieth signing autographs following his rounds? Negativity can hurt your performance. It affects the atmosphere of your group and ultimately affects your score. You’re playing golf, be happy about it, learn something each time regardless of “success.”
Thanks! Season is just starting up here so you will hear from me regularly. Email anytime (unless it’s about super slo-mo rules controversies – don’t do that).