Great Theater at The Masters
Great theatre once again at Augusta! Birdies and Eagles all over the course with player after player making incredible shots under pressure. Phil Mickelson prevailed overcoming errant drives with precision and daring shot making down the stretch. It was a popular victory and well chronicled by CBS. It was a stirring victory that I enjoyed.
A major side story was Tiger’s return to competition. Not only was his performance watched with a careful eye, but also, how well he managed his emotions. – no more swearing or club throwing. For most, eleven under and 4th place would be a strong showing. Not so with Tiger, though. He prepared to win, and that incredibly strong motivation is one of the reasons he sits on top of world rankings. When he doesn’t win he doesn’t hide his disappointment. Read more in Winning The Battle Within.
How well he managed his emotions was another matter. He told us he wanted to change. During his post round interview with Peter Kostas, he was asked about his emotional control. Kostas asked, “Do you try to play by eliminating emotions or by managing them?” He side-stepped the questions and stated that he didn’t plan to walk around with a smile on his face when he missed shots. OK, no one expects you to be happy with errant shots and missed putts. To me he looked pretty much like the same demonstrative self.
Most likely, because of his incredibly strong need to win, and hit great shots, when it doesn’t happen, negative emotions (frustration, anger) come flooding in and take over his behavior. Given his performance record, it’s clear that the negative emotions don’t stay long. My guess is he re-focuses within five steps. It’s important to note, though, that you can’t eliminate emotion – emotions arrive unannounced – but you surely can learn to control their intensity, duration and direction. That’s the challenge for all of us.
I’ll give Tiger a pass on his first time out with his new behavior commitment. He’ll never lose the passion he brings into every shot. It leaps right through the TV screen. But, maybe, his game will be better served when he demonstrates the kind of on course behavior we want our junior players to model.