The 2018 PGA Championship at Bellerive was a thrilling tournament and Aspire Golf Performance was lucky enough to be there in person this year for the first, second, and third rounds. The tournament had everything a golf fan could ever want. There were major stars in the hunt on a challenging and beautiful golf course. It was packed with enthusiastic fans that made every great shot that much more exciting. And there was one incredible golf shot after another right down to the last hole to remind golf fans why they love the game so much.
There are some key lessons to take from that amazing tournament to use in your own approach to the game of golf. The impressive determination and ability to overcome the adversity of one of the greatest to ever play the game was the first thing to remember from this tournament. The second lesson to take with you was the stoic composure and confidence of Brooks Koepka as he faced down the challenge from Tiger Woods and many of the best players in the world today. Let’s take a closer look at these valuable lessons that can help you play better golf.
A Bad Start is Just That – Keep Grinding
There are lots of lessons to be learned from watching Tiger Woods play golf. One of the best lessons for any golfer was on full display at the PGA Championship this year. Tiger started the tournament bogey-double bogey to find himself at +3 through 2 holes. Many great players would get extremely frustrated with this kind of start and would be unlikely to rebound as Tiger did. He clearly didn’t have his best game, but he stayed patient and focused on the task at hand. He bounced back and finished his first round at even par. The way he handled that bad start gave him a chance to make the run that he did on Sunday and gave him a legitimate chance to win the tournament.
Golf is a funny game and momentum can change quickly. Bad rounds can turn on a single great shot or a few solid holes. The only way this happens is a solid commitment to your process and an unwavering commitment to a positive attitude. It is easy to let doubt or frustration creep in when a round of golf doesn’t get off to a good start. You can start making excuses for yourself about why this just isn’t your day or you can dig in and believe that you will find a way to play your best that day. There is not a simple trick or quick thought to muster this confidence in the face of adversity. It is a combination of mental discipline, practice, confidence, and unwavering optimism.
Believe in Yourself and Play Your Game
After the third round in the US Open this year, Brooks Koepka shared his perspective on the upcoming final round and foreshadowed how hard he would be to beat the next day. In his press conference, he said, “There’s nobody more confident. I won this thing last year. I feel really good. My game’s in a good spot. I feel like you got to kind of take it from me, to be honest with you.” This was coming from a man that had two wrist injuries this year and had only played a limited schedule. He clearly wasn’t thinking about whether his wrist would hold up, how tough the course would play, or the condition of the extremely difficult greens (like many other players made clear in their post-round interviews). He was focused on his own ability to handle the challenge ahead and deliver when the pressure was on. It was clear he was excited about the final round and believed he would win.
When you follow Koepka in person, or even when you watch him play on TV, there is always an air of quiet confidence. He never seems like he’s in a hurry to get anywhere. Take note and slow things down out there. This doesn’t mean takes forever to hit your shot. That doesn’t mean he’s a slow player. Quite the opposite. When it’s his turn to hit, he steps up and fires without hesitation. It means paying attention to the pace you walk and slowing things down if you feel like you’re hurrying at all. Koepka never seems like he has anything to prove to anyone. He has put in the work to trust his abilities under pressure and nothing is going to distract him from the task at hand. This isn’t something you can fake with a better attitude. You must put in the work on all parts of your game to have that kind of confidence. However, it is a great goal to have in mind. Put in the work to trust yourself completely when the pressure is on.
When you attend a major championship with Tiger in a competition, it is easy to understand why it is so difficult to compete against him and play in the same group as him. Nearly half the crowd is following Tiger’s group. It can be a serious distraction for any of the groups around him as people jockey for position to watch just one of Tiger’s shots. This seemed to be the furthest thing from Koepka’s mind as he played in the final group on Saturday with Tiger two groups ahead. Watching him in the third round with the crowds rushing to get a glimpse of Tiger on the holes ahead of Koepka, it never looks like there was a single thing that bugged him. He had a game plan and he was solely focused on that plan. He seemed relaxed and at peace with his ability to get the job done, no matter how much commotion was going on around him. He carried this same attitude, confidence, and focus with him on Sunday and he went on to win his third major in just more than a year.