Monday, 16 August 2010

The US PGA and The Psychology Of Winning

It was quite a night of golf yesterday for the final round of the US PGA.  I have written before about the massive importance of psychological factors in politics, business and, massively importantly, sport.

This couldn't be seen much more clearly than in the enthralling final day yesterday.  Going into the final round, Nick Watney went into the final round with a three shot lead after a superb third day.

You would have thought, of course, that all he had to do was turn up and he would win.  But that takes away the psychological pressures when sport gets to the 'business end' - when it really starts to matter.  The pressure got to Watney straight away and he tumbled down the leaderboard as the day went on

Towards the end of the round it looked like Dustin Johnson virtually had his hands on the trophy.  He stood on the final tee with a one shot lead and the tournament at his mercy.

Johnson was the man who led at three shot lead in this year's US Open disappear.  And on the final tee, when he needed a straight drive, the pressure got to him and he hit a wild drive way to the right.  An altercation with what might or might not have been a bunker followed and he (following a run in with the rules of golf) didn't even make the play off that followed.

What mattered wasn't just the grounding of the club in the bunker it was the losing of the cool on the final tee.

Yesterday's US PGA showed the importance of the 'pscychology of winning'.  Some players are capable of withstanding the pressure of that big occasion.   Some even revel in it. Think Woods in his pomp, or Taylor in darts, or Federer a few years ago.  They have a winning mentality and a winning psychology.

Others, without this mentality, are adept at plucking defeat from the jaws of victory.  Most weeks on the PGA  or European Tour, at least one player proves himself unable of handling the final day pressure.

Yesterday's US PGA was a wonderful example of players lacking that winning mentality and the psychological steel needed for the big occasion.

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