What an amazing Masters tournament! I’ve been a Sergio fan since the scissor kick at Medinah. He’s only a few years older than me and I’ve always related to him with my game. We both have tons of lag coming into the ball which means timing is hugely important, and a fiery personality can lead to some very steep emotional, and statistical, highs and lows in a round.
When Sergio had the three shot lead on five everything seemed to be falling into place perfectly. But as Justin Rose made his push followed by Sergio’s stumble at the turn everyone started talking about if he could “hold on”. From what I had just watched during those first three holes of the back nine he absolutely could hold on.
One of my favorite quotes is “don’t follow a bad shot with a dumb one”, from Craig Jones of Face First Golf. That’s exactly what Sergio had done in the past but he avoided today. He was grinding out pars and not giving up while making bogeys. He was smart, took his medicine (unplayable lie) on 13, and showed world class skill to save a par. RIght then and there, you could feel the momentum switch. This happens all the time in golf. You just need one good shot, heck, sometimes just one good bounce and it’s like a switch goes off inside you where you know that from now on you WILL hit every shot flush and confidently.
Sergio goes on to keep his cool, even when the lead slipped away. He knew his game, he knew his plan, and he stuck with it. He didn’t let what was happening around him influence it at all. That’s the biggest lesson we can learn from Sergio. Make you plan and STICK WITH IT!
Too many times amateurs get one bad bounce, make one wrong decision, or take one bad swing and decide to scrap the entire plan for the round. They never stop to think that golf is a game of averages and there’s a pretty decent chance that if they continue down the path they laid out ahead of time the good bounce, good swing, and great decision will come. What would happen if every time you felt a bump in the road you pulled into an auto shop and had them check our your car? You wouldn’t get anywhere! Trust your plan, you made it for a reason.
The other thing that we can learn is from the low amateur, Stewart Hagestad, and his post tournament interview with Jim Nantz. When asked about how he did it, he said played within himself and made very committed golf swings. He stuck to his game plan and played great that week. The other thing he said that I loved was that “Bogey’s won’t kill you, but doubles will.”
These are all important keys to solid golf, especially for higher handicapped players. Play within yourself means quit fantasizing about that one time you hit an 8 iron 184 yards. It was probably down wind off a cliff, that’s not your normal game. Play your averages and when in doubt, take extra club, because you swing will rarely be perfect.
When Stewart talked about making committed golf swings, he means picking a shot that you’re going to hit and sticking to that plan throughout the swing. Essentially the micromanager version of what Sergio taught us. This can be harder to do than you would think, but with the right kind of practice you can make it a part of your game. For my money the Think Box, Play Box drill is best way to put this into action with your game. If you’re having a hard time with that, try the seven second drill from Dave Heinen. It will take away any time that you have to waffle over the ball!