Which is more difficult — maintaining the lead or coming from behind in tournament play?
During NBC’s Sunday coverage of the 2014 Women’s US Open, Annika Sorenstam said that being in the lead is the pressure position. She described her own experience, feeling as though she had to look over her shoulder constantly, and find a balance between playing aggressive and safe at the same time. Whether Michelle Wie or Stacy Lewis was feeling more pressure on Sunday, neither appeared to break focus as they fought for the win at Pinehurst. Both women delivered strong technical performances. But in the game of golf, the victory is given to the player who best leverages her technical skills with a stellar mental game day after day. When Lewis finished her final round she told the press that Wie would have to earn it, and she did. In every tournament, there is one leader and a field of those who chase the leader. From a mental toughness standpoint, your focus should not be on your opposition, no matter where you are in the pack, but must be centered on your game, and your game alone. It’s easy to get caught up in someone else’s play, the score, and a myriad of other distractions. But the instant your attention shifts from your present to something else, is the moment you give up your power and start giving up strokes. One thing that was evident watching Michelle Wie play during the final round of the US Open was her determination to keep her head on her game. Let’s examine a few of strategies she used that you can apply to your game –
One of the big keys to success for any golfer is her ability to keep her thoughts present-centered throughout a round. Allowing your thoughts to drift to the past or get ahead of you can be a significant distraction. Michelle Wie recently spoke to LPGA.com about how she has transformed her mental approach to her game to stay in the moment – “I think this year I just tried to think about every shot, every hole…I think I used to be too worried about the final score and where I was standing. I was kind of too concerned about what place I was in, instead of just trying to play the best I could every hole. That’s kind of what I’m trying to do now.” When you focus on preparing and executing one shot at a time to the best of your ability, without getting bogged down in the past or wrapped up in the “what if’s” of the future, you give yourself the best opportunity to deliver consistently solid shots.
Sticking to a Consistent Routine
Did Michelle Wie play with a strategic advantage having access to the yardage books she borrowed from Keegan Bradley and Rickie Fowler? Perhaps. What they did seem to provide for her was a mental anchor to her pre-shot routine. She consistently pulled out her book, flipped through the notes, and conferred with her caddy as she prepared for every shot she made at Pinehurst. At times, it seemed as though working through that routine helped her recenter her attention on the task at hand, when her lead, the fans, the pressure, or the chase from Lewis and Yang could have been incredibly distracting. Players who never veer from the routines they have cultivated in their “every day” play are those who keep themselves in the power seat from one shot to the next. Consistent preparation leads to consistent execution. Click To Tweet It’s imperative to understand what you need to do in order to cultivate an environment prior to every shot that enables you to operate at your best.
Maintaining a Winner’s Attitude
Things could have turned ugly on the 70th hole when Michelle Wie experienced some trouble that resulted in a double-bogey. But her “can-do” attitude, demonstrated by the big smile on her face after sinking her putt on 16, lead right into a bounce-back-birdie on 17. Referencing the struggles all golfers experience in the game, Wie said, “Without your downs, without the hardships, I don’t think you appreciate the ups as much as you do.” Yet, so many golfers struggle to embrace failure with an objective mindset that enables them to extract the value from it. When you learn to process your results with a winner’s attitude, it can help you still score even when things are working.
Learn How to Think Like a Pro
Golf is 90% mental, so investing time in your mental game development should be as much of a priority as your investment in the technical side of the game. If you’ve been struggling with inconsistency, distractions, or frustration with your game, we can help you with that. CONTACT US today to find out more about our live and virtual training programs that can help you Unleash Your Inner Champion and get you thinking like a Pro.