There was a smart golfer that once told me during a tournament, “if you don’t beat everyone in your group you will never win a tournament.” This became my motto during tournaments. When I first started playing golf, it was fun and it still is today. I would go out with some buddies and do the best I could and if I lost to one of them no big deal. As I turned Professional and began paying entrie fees it got a little tougher to have fun if I was not playing well, because I was losing my own money. I started playing in tournaments and it was like a donation to the rest of the field. Then this smart golfer told me you cannot think of it as a donation because each time I played I was gaining experence. He also told me to simplify things and go out there and focus on just beating the guys in your group. I decided that I could handle that. With a little more practice on the range and mental focus during the round I was ready to stop the donation. I started playing better and winning golf tournaments. Two situations where this happened.
The first was at a tournament at The Country Club of Rochester. I was not playing all that well, the weather was lousy and the wind was really blowing. I think I was around 7 or 8 over with four holes left. I was losing to a good player in my group by what I felt was a lot. But the last four holes my goal was to beat him on each hole. The 15th at CCR is a good par three with a tough green. I left myself a 20 footer up the hill and settled for a par, he made bogie. Gained one there. The 16th is a short Par 5. I kill a drive, a little right in the rough but have only a 6 Iron in, I leave it short chip it up and make a birdie. He pars, 2 holes I’ve gained 2 strokes. The 17th at CCR is a relative shorter par 4. I kill a drive to around 110 yds in and stick a wedge to 4 feet. He is feeling the pressure now and I’m on fire. I make birdie and he makes bogie. I gained 4 strokes in 3 holes! I am feeling good on 18, which is a longer par 4 that doglegs left a little. I hit a drive up the right side in the rough and have 162 in, this is usually a 7 iron but I’m pumped up right now and feeling like I can get an 8 iron there. I hit it right where I want to and have a 8 foot putt for birdie. My opponent comes up short of the green. He makes a great chip to two feet and taps in for par. Now I know I have 8 foot birdie putt to tie him, not bad for being down 5 stokes with four holes to go. All that I am thinking about is my putting routine. I pick a speed and then a line each time and then I visualize the putt going in the hole, and drain o. I make my third birdie in a row and tie for the best score in the group. This was good enough for a T – 2 and a nice check.
During another tournament in 2009 at Blue Heron Hills C.C. I’m down one with 3 to play to one of the best players in our section. The 16th at Blue Heron is a downhill dogleg left. You have to hit your drive down the right to have a good angle in, I do he does not. I put it on 12 footer for birdie he misses the green. He tries to get up and down but makes bogie and throws a wedge in disgust. I miss my birdie but make par, so we are all tied with 2 holes left. The 17th at Blue Heron is one of the toughest par 3’s I have ever played. A 200 yard downhill into the wind hole with a peninsula green. I have seen guys go on to the tee with a 4 iron,(normal play) a wedge and a 9 iron (to lay up and chip on get out with a bogie at the worst.) I decide since I’m at even par through 16 holes something is going right and I hit a 4 iron on the green to 24 feet. My opponent hits it in the H2O but chips it to about 5 feet. I am thinking well he is gonna make bogie and I can put him away if I sink this put. I take my time and make the birdie putt. 1 under with 1 hole left and I’m two up on him. The 18th at Blue Heron is a tough driving hole with water on the right and left but I take out the driver and kill a soft fade down the right side, that just gets ino the rough. My opponent is cheering me on now thinking I could win this thing and he will take home second place hits a good drive and sticks an iron shot 20 feet from the pin. I step up and hit a 54 degree wedge to 9 feet and make another birdie to shoot a 2 under score of 70. That score was low in my group but not low for the tournament. The winning score was 68, but my 70 and 3 shot victory over the other guy in my group was good enough for another 2nd place finish.
Focus on beating the guys in your group and if you do you have the chance of winning.