HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C.– Last weekend Tiger Woods captured his 17th World Golf Championships (WGC) title at the Cadillac Championship in Doral, Fla., after beginning the final round with a four-stroke lead. Woods has never lost on tour when holding at least a four-shot lead entering the final round. In total, Woods has converted 40 of 42 outright 54-hole leads into wins on the PGA TOUR and is now 8-8 converting 54-hole leads into wins at WGC events. Nothing short of impressive – but what can the average or aspiring amateur golfer learn from Woods’s success?
Any golfer, professional and junior alike, that has played in a competitive golf event has felt the pressure of the final round. Whether attempting to break 80, shatter a personal record or trying to win the event, the final round provides psychological challenges not found in any other round.
Thoughts during the final round are absolutely related to the outcome of the tournament. The body does not move or react without thoughts. Being aware of the way thoughts, feelings and actions work together will change the outcome of a round. Director of Mental Training, Matt Cuccaro explains how self-talk (or the voice inside your head) controls attitude, emotions and, when used effectively, is a helpful tool to focus attention in competition.
When beginning the final round in the lead, it is tempting to use “Perfect” phrases during self-talk. “Perfect” phrases include things like ‘I have to’ and ‘I must.’ These phrases add stress to rounds and demand exact precision. Players like Woods have found a way to balance the natural tendency of these thoughts with “Neutral” phrases like ‘focus on the target’ and ‘one shot at a time.’
Woods is the epitome of what strong mental training can do for a competitive golfer in a final round pinch. If you need help navigating self-talk during competitive rounds, set up a consultation with Cuccaro or assistant Director of Mental Training, Scott Swainston. Swainston will be on-site at three IJGT Events during the Spring season: #RocktheSocks Open at Bulle Rock presented by KENTWOOL Socks , the Chocolate Challenge at Hershey and the Bridgestone Tournament of Champions.
(PHOTO CREDIT: Joe Skipper, NYTimes.com )