Can Desperation Help a Player?

Normally I don’t make much of the day 1 leader board because it tends to change so drastically by the time the weekend rolls around.  This week is different though.  All week there have been a plethora of articles written about the big name players who are currently outside the top 125 and need to have a good week in order to get into the playoffs.  If you are anything like me, you wrote those articles off as writers blowing smoke to get people interested in an otherwise mundane tournament.  Now that I have had a chance to look at the leader board I have changed my mind and think it is suddenly intriguing that a lot of the big names that needed to play well are actually playing well.

I was very surprised to see Casey, Els, Goosen and others up near the top of the leader board today.  Obviously they have to keep it up and play well over the weekend, but what a surprise to see all the guys desperate to make the playoffs are actually stepping up.  I find it so interesting because these guys have not had stellar years yet when push comes to shove they are able to perform.  Where has this been all year?  What makes them able to dig deep now and post good scores as opposed to other tournaments this year?  You would think that if they are able to turn it on for this tournament they would have done the same thing for other big name tournaments earlier in the season.

It would be easy to chalk this up to a swing change or having things “click” for a player on any given week if it was just one guy, but it is a ton of guys going low all of a sudden.  This is not a coincidence in my mind and makes me think about my own mind-set going into certain rounds when I have performed well.

As I think back on some of my best rounds I was always focused on playing well, but I was never forcing shots.  Whenever I have gone to the course and told myself “I am going to shoot my best score ever today!” I never play well.  I don’t mean that I sometimes play well and sometimes I don’t, I literally mean that I NEVER play well when that is my mind set.  On the flip side I rarely play well when I go out and say, “I am going to have fun and see what happens.”  This usually produces mediocre rounds with avoidable mistakes all throughout.  I seem to play my best when I am very focused on individual shots and reacting to situations rather than being overly focused on outcomes, scores, bets or pressure.  Some of my best scores have come when I didn’t personally keep my score and had someone else write down my scores.  Funny how it happens like that.

I am not certain why so many of these players are finally playing well this week, but if I had to guess I would say that they are finally letting themselves play golf and not worry too much about the results.  If they play poorly no one would have been surprised and their season would be over so what do they really have to lose?  Nothing.  It looks like they have all found something that is working for them and that just might be desperation.  I am going to be very interested to see who keeps the play up and who falters over the next three days.  This change of events has suddenly made me extra interested in this weeks tournament.  I’m looking forward to seeing how it shapes up.

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