We are shifting gears a little bit this week. I know I mentioned that I would be writing about Part II of the Three Drives of Life, but since there was a fairly monumental moment in Augusta Sunday afternoon, we will continue that next week.
There were so many storylines from this weekend at The Masters – Obviously, Tiger Woods’ ability to do something he has never done – win a Major when trailing after 54 holes. Then, how was anyone going to catch Molinari if he never makes bogey? Finally, the late charge that several players made on the back 9 made for an interesting finish.
Tiger’s Reaction to History
As the tournament wrapped up, we saw Tiger celebrating with family, friends, fellow players, and members of the gallery. There was also the ceremony at Butler Cabin, which is where I shifted my attention. As someone who studies the best competitors and the mindset to achieve greatness in any endeavor, I wanted to hear Tiger’s thought process as he pursued something some thought was impossible.
As I listened to Tiger’s reaction to the historic round, the emotion, the competitive mindset, the relief (to an extent), and the pure joy stuck out to me. I want to share some nuggets that stuck out to me after listening to Tiger’s summation of his historic victory:
1. “Keep playing your game”
As chaos ensued around him, Tiger was able to, in his words, “keep plotting along the golf course”, “stay with the plan”, “handle your business and work your way up the board”. He mentioned several times that there were so many different scenarios that could play out before a champion was crowned. The leaderboard was packed, and several players made runs at victory, including major champions Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson. His commitment to the plan of plotting along the golf course never changed.
Even after Francesco Molinari hit his tee shot in the water at #12, the turning point in the tournament when Tiger seized all momentum, it was the same thought process. Be committed to the plan, trust your preparation, and go all-in on this shot.
2. “Let’s go ahead and pipe this ball right down the middle”
As he stepped up to the 17th tee, Tiger Woods mentioned thinking to himself “I have been in this position before with a two-shot lead.” He, of course, was referencing his two-shot lead on Chris DiMarco in the ’05 Masters. Tiger went bogey – bogey on the final two holes which forced a playoff.
His thought process was different this time as he approached that tee shot. Acknowledging the past failure in the same situation 14 years ago, he brushed that off and with extreme confidence and self-belief at the most critical time said to himself “Let’s just go ahead and pipe this ball right down the middle”. And he did. In Tiger’s words, “I smoked it.”
3. “Be committed to the shot”
In an interview with Golf Digest, Tiger Woods’ caddy, Joe LaCava, said that Tiger was all business after Molinari, inexplicably, put his tee ball in Rae’s Creek on #12. For LaCava, it wasn’t something he saw coming since Molinari had been unflappable all week.
However, what didn’t change was Tiger’s plan. LaCava thought there was a chance Tiger would switch 9-iron out for 8-iron, but he stuck with his plan, put his approach on the left side of the green, and made par for a two-shot swing that changed the entire tournament.
Commitment to the process, no matter the outside noise or influence, allows you the best chance for success.
4. “I felt so prepared coming into this event”
That was Tiger Woods’ response when told he appeared to exude extreme calm coming down the stretch. It wasn’t just preparation from a physical standpoint but from a mental and strategical standpoint as well. He mentioned that preparation for the Masters started six months ago, and it was doing all the little things correctly that allowed him to play his best when the pressure and intensity were at its highest.
As the famous Navy SEAL quote says “Under pressure, you don’t rise to the occasion. You sink to the level of your preparation.”
5. “Giving up is never in the equation”
Tiger mentioned that he had serious doubts as to whether he would be able to WALK again, much less play golf at a major championship level. However, one small, positive step after small, positive step, he was able to walk. And then, swing a club. Then, swing a club fast. That process culminated with a fifth Green Jacket.
Keep fighting. That is part of the deal. We wake up every morning with challenges in front of us. To achieve anything of value, you must make a decision to, when the odds are stacked against you, keep putting one foot in front of the other, keep pushing forward, and keep fighting.
Have a great week everyone. I will pick back up next week with Part II of the Three Drives of Life.