A Lesson Learned: Learn from the past, stay in the present

Webb Simpson
Getty Images
Webb Simpson's ability to focus on the "now" helped him maintain his composure while trying to get his first PGA Tour win.
By
Andrew Marr
PGA.com

Problem Area: Fundamentals
Series: Lesson Learned

Local boy Webb Simpson finally recorded his first win on the PGA Tour and as the statistics show, it was just a matter of time. Not only was the Wyndham Championship the last event of the regular tour season, but it was also the last chance for many players to gain a stop in the FedEX Playoffs.

Coming into the tournament Simpson had 3 second place finishes under his belt already this season, making him the 12th first-time winner on the Tour this season. So, was it only a matter of time before a win? Well the statistics would suggest so... 15th in GIR, 4th in Scoring Average on top of the close finishes in the past few months proved pivotal for Simpson coming into this tournament.

Now let's take a closer look at how and when the tournament was won. Simpson began the tournament with rounds of 66 and 65, but it was the 4 birdies and eagle in the final five holes of the third round that gave him the momentum going into Sunday. After flirting with victory earlier in the year and enduring a heart breaking shot penalty on the 15th hole of The Zurich Classic, he may have been forgiven for thinking the golfing gods were against him. However, like others this year, namely Darren Clarke and Rory McIroy who both overcame various personal and on-course demons to win tournaments, Simpson followed suit.

Holding a lead in a PGA Tour event, leading your local club championship or having to make par on the last hole to post your best ever score can be an uncomfortable place to be. However, the good news for the PGA Tour players and local amateur golfers is that fact that many, many golfers prior to them have conquered similar situations. How did they do this? There are many reasons, but one of the main differences I have noticed in the past 12 years of teaching/coaching is a repeatable pre-shot routine. Routines in life are important to ensure structure and are equally as important on the golf course especially when we find ourselves in pressure packed situations like Simpson did earlier today. Sticking to a repeatable pre-shot routine can help eliminate unnecessary thoughts prior to executing a shot as well as keeping focus on the task at hand. In the 2010 Open Championship I really liked how Louis Oosthousen triggered his pre-shot routine by glancing down at a red dot on his glove, this helped him create focus for the upcoming shot. Webb Simpson had virtually the same routine for all his full shots in which he adds in one waggle of the club as he sets up over the ball as a way to reduce tension and warn the brain that a dynamic movement (golf swing) is about to take place. That routine continued throughout the entire final round even when the pressure was at its peak - all golfers can learn from this.

Your own personal pre-shot should fit your style and rhythm as a person and golfer. If you talk fast, drive a fast car, have a packed schedule and have very little down time then your routine should be a little shorter and fast paced and the opposite would be most suited for people who embrace life at a slightly slower pace, both will be as effective - you just need to find the one that best suits you. Never shy away from the fact that the goal of an efficient routine is to give you focus, confidence and belief in the upcoming shot.

I encourage all of you to go and find a local PGA Professional and invite them to help you develop a specific "pressure busting" pre-shot routine for your game.

Enjoy!

Andrew Marr, PGA is the Director of Instruction at GolfTEC San Diego (www.golftec.com/sandiego) as well as Head Coach for the Bishops School located in La Jolla CA. He works with people of all ages and abilities and can be contacted at: 858 228 5228, amarr@golftec.com or twitter handle @andrewmarrgolf
 


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