It wasn't long after the beginning of the 2010 John Deere Classic that you knew it was going to be a special tournament. After all, most of us thought that we were going to watch a Paul Goydos runaway victory after he posted only the fourth 59 ever shot on the PGA Tour. But how amazing was it that by the end of day one, Goydos would be sleeping on a mere one-shot lead!
The low scores never seemed to let up, it was a virtual track meet in a race for birdies. In fact, the 54-hole scoring record was set by the end of the third round. And no one took advantage of the conditions better than Wisconsin's own (and defending champ) Steve Stricker. In fact, so flawless was Steve through the first three rounds that I feel it dictated his game plan for the final round.
And that is this week's A Lesson Learned. You can adjust your plan of attack (or non-attack) based on your situation. Especially the non-attack. I'm not saying swing easier or adjust your mechanics. We've read and heard that doing those things can bring about some ugly results - and we've certainly seen that this year on The PGA Tour. But if you have a large lead, than you don't need more birdies. At least, you don't have to put yourself at risk to get more. You can still swing freely, but pick safer target lines off the tee. Play to the fat of the green. Stick with what works for you, avoid those that don't.
Again, Steve Stricker was able to let his foot off the gas a bit without sacrificing his strengths. Just because he didn't wail away on every par five didn't mean he couldn't score well on them. Let's see, there were 12 par 5s on the course through four rounds. Stricker birdied all 12 of them. Remember, the first rule of winning a golf tournament is that you have to win the tournament. Don't take unnecessary risks or put yourself in a difficult spot when there's no reason to play aggressive. That same swing that brought you to the top can keep you there. But taking away chances to get into trouble will do nothing but help you as well.