The second round of the Masters is underway, and there’s already been some great insight related to the mental game. Here are a couple of standouts thus far:
Jordan Spieth – “Once you win here, you have an advantage over anybody who hasn’t won here.”
He is partially right in his statement. One of the biggest things that feeds confidence is having done something before. But confidence is very tricky. Sometimes having accomplished something previously can lead to expectations for the next time we do something. And expectations can really get in our way, for example, by making us more tuned into noticing any discrepancies between what is happening versus what we expected to happen or by increasing the pressure we feel for having to perform well. We can maybe see this being the case for Jordan with his double bogey on the opening hole this morning after sitting atop the leaderboard after Round 1.
Tiger Woods – “I fought hard to get it back in there, and I’m back in this championship. It will be fun the next 54 holes.”
Speaking of expectations, no surprise all eyes are on Tiger Woods and his return to Augusta after finishing top 5 in his two previous events. Perspective really is everything and we can see from his quote that he might be working not only on his strategy but also on managing his perspective (interesting read here about him and his approach:
https://www.golfdigest.com/story/masters-2018-tiger-is-good-with-his-opening-act-at-augusta). He also gives some insight into a great strategy…contingency planning. His approach seems to characterize critically thinking about what could happen and what he’s going to do if it does happen. This is great not only for planning ahead but also being able to navigate our emotional reactions.
Sergio Garcia – “I don’t know what to tell you, it’s one of those things. I feel like it’s the first time in my career where I made a 13 without missing a shot.”
Sergio’s first round and comments about it are good examples of what happens to us sometimes when things go really bad. First, usually when a downward spiral starts happening and our emotions are high we may be more likely to experience a crash and burn versus a slow fall from grace. Second, we see in his comments about the round that he’s really focused (and maybe he was right from the start) on things outside of his control, like pin placement, and actually taking the control out of his hands, it was the ball that did that not me. Especially when things aren’t going our way it can be easy to start focusing on the uncontrollables. We also have a strong inbuilt self-protection mechanism so we may start to attribute things to stuff outside of our control rather than what we can control…quite simply it helps us not feel so bad about what’s happening. No matter what is really going on for Sergio, one thing is clear; right now, and maybe not even for the benefit of this event, he’s got to focus on resilience. Not just bouncing back but rather trying to become better for having experienced this adversity. He can’t undo what’s been done, so now he has to find a way to finish strong and find the lessons that can be learned to take forward.
Rickie Fowler – “I think it’s more of a mental challenge than a physical challenge this week. I need to make sure I’m in the right frame of mind and trusting what we’re trying to do and not second-guessing anything.”
Coming into the Masters, Rickie was talking quite a bit about his focus on the mental side of the game this year after having some near misses in the past at this event. His comments highlight things like his motivation, focus and routines, confidence, perspective, and commitment to shots. All important parts of creating a well-planned mental game approach to performance.
It will be exciting to see how things progress for these four as well as others, especially heading into the weekend. One thing is for sure: the mental game will definitely be visible and play a role throughout the rest of the event! As Arnold Palmer once stated, “The whole secret to mastering the game of golf – and this applies to the beginner as well as the pro – is to cultivate a mental approach to the game that will enable you to shrug off the bad days, and keep patient and know in your heart that sooner or later you will be back on top.”