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Five Fundamentals to Win your Weekend Match

By Keith Stewart, PGA
Published on

Dustin Johnson during the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play at Austin Country Club.Getty Images

I know. You’ve seen this title a million times before. I assure you; this list is going to be different. Rather than make simple suggestions you need to employ to improve your match play prowess, this PGA Coach is going to give you some very thoughtful examples of how we can follow the lead of your favorite PGA Tour match play competitors.
Be Like Brooks
I really don’t care who you are playing against. If it’s a competitive match we all need to approach our opponent like Brooks. What I mean by that is simple, ignore them. Brooks is a master of taking control of his world. Part of that amazing mental strength is not letting his opponent say or do anything that will affect him. We can all learn from his example. I’m not suggesting you be rude, but rather while you are competing stay in your world and let your opponent live in theirs.
Play Like DJ
Dustin Johnson uses a strong grip and plays a fade (left to right shot). It doesn’t matter what his opponent does, which way the wind blows or what day of the week it is. That’s what DJ does. Too many times I see players trying to reinvent their game rather than embrace it. Dustin was once asked in a press conference if he always plays a fade. He replied yes. The reporter came back and said on every drive? Johnson replied, “Every single drive this year.” His level of self- belief should be shared by all of us. When you consider how hard the game is, why are we all trying to master multiple ball striking methods?
Try Tyrell’s Temper
Competitive golf is not for everyone. It takes a certain type of person to love playing against somebody else. Especially when it is one versus one. Tyrell Hatton plays with a little edge. If you find yourself struggling to get in a competitive mindset, copy Tyrell’s temper. Pick out a memory that drives you. Think of a moment in your life where you were told you couldn’t accomplish something. Focus on how you felt in that situation and let that fire burn inside. Hatton doesn’t hate his opponent, rather he hates defeat and plays better because of it.
Hit it Like Horschel
Billy Horschel never takes a hole off. He’s one of those quintessential professional competitors. Inside his approach there’s a great match play mentality. Golf is hard and your opponent will always look for opportunities to take holes off. You can rest when the match is over. Be like Billy and never give in. Try to chip-in or make a long putt. When you show your fellow competitors a little tenacity, you’ll soon gain a very positive reputation for someone who likes to finish holes and win matches.
Score like Scottie
An aggressive mindset has served Scottie Scheffler well. Matches need to be won by somebody. Start each match like Scheffler and try to score. Don’t sit back and wait, start by attacking the first hole. In the WGC, 72% of the players who win the first hole end up winning the match. With that fact in mind, score like Scottie and don’t hold back. As a PGA Coach, I can’t stand when my players open too conservatively at the start of a round. You only have 18 holes! Win some of the early ones and you won’t even need all of them.
We don’t just have to try and copy their swings. I just gave you five great examples of how you can copy a successful player’s mental approach and apply it toward becoming a better match play competitor. The beauty of this game can be found in more than just swings. Find a favorite player’s approach and instill it in your own game. In doing so, you’ll be able to win against your toughest opponent; yourself.
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