It takes more than talent to win

by: B. J. Hathaway


The leaderboard of the 2012 British Open was full of the world’s most talented players but there was only one winner. This begs the question, if all of these players are extremely talented,which they are, why does only one prevail?

Ernie Els stated in his pre-round interview that he had a good feeling, interesting but I’m sure lots of other players had good feelings too. Tiger Woods, GMac, Donald and Snedeker all had very reasonable chances to win The Open Championship and all Adam Scott needed to do realistically was make 18 pars.

Of course you can say the winds were stronger, the course was faster and those deep bunkers were everywhere but it was a fair test because everyone in contention played in the same conditions. But why did Els wins and Scott lose? Why did Tiger fail to make a charge with all of his talent?

It’s my view that at the elite level there must be more than just pure talent and even desire because they all “wanted” to win a major, and I think the answer is strategy. Strategy is more than just attempting to hit the ball from point A to point B and it was evident in the final round at Lytham.

Strategy is a mixture of awareness of course conditions, emotional state and the shot requirements at each particular point in time. Each of the players on the first page of the leader board failed in one or more of those areas today and that is why they did not win. Els did not really shoot a low score but what he did was shoot a good score while the players ahead of him shot their worst scores.

Scott lost not because his swing left him, but because of poor strategy. He hit shots into areas that were not safe and was not aware of his emotional state and under the pressure it caused him to lose focus on what the best shot was at hand. Tiger and McDowell were looking into the future and attempting to shoot a number to put pressure on Scott, a type of forecasting which takes the player out of the present mindset. Both of them would miss putts or hit shots that were unsuccessful because they lost focus on the present moment.

Els was quoted as saying, “For the first time in a long time I wasn’t thinking about score, just hitting each shot one a a time”. This is one of the most effective strategy tools that you can adopt for your game. Stay in the present, that’s where the golf ball is.