By Ann Liguori
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Tiger Woods and I have something in common. Never thought that would ever be the case! In fact, many golfers out there can relate to shooting a 44 on nine holes. And many amateur golfers I know would not be happy with that score either.
In case you were out working on your game this past Saturday and missed it, Tiger shot a ‘7 over par 79’ at the Memorial Tournament in the third round on Saturday, which tied his second highest score in a round ever. (He shot a 79 at the 2010 Wells Fargo Championship as well).
The ‘44’ he shot on his first nine holes, (he started on the back nine at Muirfield Village), included a triple, two doubles and a bogey, and was the highest nine-hole score of his professional career. He ended up shooting a 72 on Sunday, carding his second triple bogey of the weekend, and finished with an eight-over 296, tied for 65th.
Blame the wind. Blame a few bad breaks. Blame inconsistent putting. Blame some bad swings. Perhaps he was still thinking about the fun he had, reports said, jet-skiing with Lindsey Vonn and his kids over Memorial Day Weekend.
Whatever it was, it wasn’t a good tune-up for next week’s U.S. Open!
And with the U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa., one week away, you know that Tiger will be working overtime to get his short game and putting back to standard.
He comes into this U.S. Open with four wins already this season and having regained the top ranking in the game. But Tiger is still looking to win his first Major Championship since winning the 2008 US Open (with a broken leg) at Torre Pines. He’s been stuck at ‘14’ Majors for five years. Golf fans know that Tiger is obsessed with passing Jack Nicklaus’ 18 Major wins. The questions remain. When will he win his next Major? And will he pass Jack’s record?
Tiger is obsessed with doing just that. And therein may be the issue. Tiger wants to win each Major so bad and knows that at 37 years of age, time is running out.
I’ve always been intrigued with the psychology of sport and understand just how important the ‘mental game’ is, particularly in golf! The second a golfer is conscious of the consequences, the game tends to go south, even for seasoned veterans and champions. Golfers’ fight their inner mental demons as much as they do physical issues, swing issues, course conditions, weather, etc. Winning the battle over your ‘inner’ self and all the thoughts that come up during Major competitions separates the men from the boys, so to speak.
It’s one thing to bring accuracy off the tee, precise irons, a flawless short game and a hot putter to Merion’s tight, challenging lay-out next week; one also has to bring a most relaxed, almost reverse psychology, ‘carefree, I don’t give a darn attitude’ to help avert all the pressure and distractions that accompany Major tournaments. And a little luck goes a long way as well.
As the great Bobby Jones once said, “Competitive golf is played mainly on a five-and-a-half-inch course…the space between your ears.” Mentally, on the course, Tiger usually excels in that department.
Tiger won’t be thinking about the ‘44’ he shot on nine holes at Muirfield when he tees it up on Thursday, June 13, in round one of our country’s championship. But he will be thinking about how badly he wants to win his 15th Major and how upset he will be with himself, if he doesn’t bring his ‘A Game’ with him!
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