A Lesson Learned: Making it routine

A Lesson Learned
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Martin Kaymer looks over the most pressure filled putt of his career (before making it).
Brady Wilson, PGA

Problem Area: Putting
Series: Lesson Learned

Published: Monday, October 01, 2012 | 12:42 a.m.

Obviously, there's not a lot I can add to what we all witnessed at Medinah. That was just simply amazing golf: great players, hitting great shots, under incredibly great pressure. I'm disappointed for the US team and for Davis Love III but you have to think that there was a real 13th man nudging a few of those putts in for Europe. That win was for Seve and they certainly played on Sunday like he was on the bag of every European player.

There were obviously too many shots to pick any one as being critical. The easiest "A Lesson Learned" ever could be to take a page from Rory and never practice. Just show up ten minutes before your tee time and go out and shoot 32 on the front! If only it were that easy for anyone else!

One other item did stand out to me - the calmness that Martin Kaymer seemed to have about him as he lined up for what had to be the most pressure packed putts in history. Can you imagine having your teammates, your captain, the memory of Seve, the continent of Europe and the weight of one of the largest comebacks in the history of the Ryder Cup based on your ability to hit a six foot putt?

In any sport, there is a "game on the line" situation that all players practice. Is it a critical putt? A field goal to kick? A free throw to make? A tennis serve to hit?

In every scenario, the nerves are going to be there - no matter who you are, if you care about the result, you will be nervous. What makes champions who they are is the ability to overcome those nerves and perform. And to a man (or woman), it's because they have a set routine that triggers the action they need to perform.

The lesson this week is: you succumb to pressure when you do something different, something that breaks from your normal routine.

Martin Kaymer knew the situation, but he did not spend extra time on the putt. He looked at it from his two angles, made his practice strokes and then followed his set putting routine. He said he felt strangely confident, that missing was not an option in this case.

Whatever your putting routine is, know it and practice it so much that it becomes second nature. Kaymer's putt was a straight six footer, slightly uphill, a putt he might make 100 out of 100 times on the practice green. But with more pressure than most of us can possibly imagine, for many, the odds would drop down to 10%. But not for Martin, not this past Sunday.

And the next time you face a pressure putt, making it as "normal" as possible by sticking to your routine will increase your chances to make it as well.  

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