Oh No H2O

By Dr. Rick JensenMay 4, 2009, 4:00 pm
The best players in the world will soon descend on the Stadium Course at the TPC at Sawgrass for The Players Championship. Whether watching in person, on television or online, viewers will tune in overwhelmingly for one-shot ' the tee shot on the par-3, 17th hole. This 137-yard gem with the island green has certainly earned its reputation as one of the most anticipated and mentally challenging holes in golf. On the final day of the 2008 Players Championship, 16 of 74 shots ended up in the drink. That's an astounding 22 percent. Even on the PGA Tour, there are holes that turn 'these guys are good!' into 'these guys are human!' Such humility is ironically welcomed by observers who enjoy seeing their Tour idols struggle with the same fears and negative thoughts that are all too familiar to the weekend warrior.
 
Over the course of a year, approximately 45,000 players take their shot at the famed island green. The number of balls making a splash is estimated to be 120,000 per year; that equates to almost three balls per player. Do the math and you'll discover that the average player fails 15 times more often than does a Tour player. It appears 'these guys are good' after all.
 
So, just what is it that Tour players are thinking as they stand over the ball on No. 17? What strategies can you learn from them to help overcome similar situations ' greens protected by water, water-lined fairways, forced carries over water, or any other condition in which H2O saturates your brain? Below are Tour-tested strategies that you can use the next time you are facing that dreaded water hole.
 
Strategy I: Put Your Symptoms Into Reverse One of the reasons why holes like No. 17 at Sawgrass are so difficult is that they present an 'all-or-nothing' scenario. 'The hardest thing about that hole is that you need to be committed on the shot and you know you can't really hit a poor shot and get away with it,' Tiger Woods said. When facing a hole with extreme difficulty, no bail-out and no forgiveness, the average golfer experiences a range of performance-inhibiting symptoms ' elevated heart rate, shortness of breath, fear of embarrassment, etc. To combat these symptoms, do the opposite. Reverse the identified effects as soon as possible to minimize the associated negative impact on your mind and body. Try these specific reversal strategies:
 
  • When your breathing becomes shallow, take three to four long, deep breaths.
  • When your heart begins to race, slow down your pre-shot routine.
  • When you doubt your club selection, pick one club and commit 100 percent to HOW you need to hit it.
  • When you reach for an old 'water ball,' dont do it ' instead, select a brand new ball deserving of its rightful place in the center of the green.

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    Strategy II: Focus on the Opportunity, Not the Threat If you've ever played darts, you know what it means to focus on the opportunity. Every throw is another opportunity to make a 'bull's-eye.' Hitting a ball to an island green should feel the same ' simply, an opportunity to succeed. To hit the bull's-eye, you must control two factors: 1) your self-talk, and 2) your attention.
     
    Keep your self-talk positive when hitting over water. Rather than saying, 'Oh no, I hope I have enough balls in my bag,' be more intentional and positive. Statements such as, 'I love the challenge of these types of shots,' or, 'Lets see if I can pull it off today' can minimize the counter-productive symptoms that we discussed in strategy No. 1.
     
    Focus your attention on where you intend to hit the ball, not the threat of losing your ball in the water. Choose a challenging, yet realistic target (e.g., the 15-foot area left of the pin and right of the tree that sits behind the green). You may also find it helpful to use a supporting swing image to trigger your desired ball flight. Once you have primed your mind and body with the opportunity of success, simply throw your dart.
     
    Strategy III: Play Your 'Go-To' Shot Although their strengths vary significantly, rest assured that every PGA Tour player facing the 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass will go to their strength under pressure. Players who fade the ball will let it fade, and those that like to hit a controlled knock-down will come in low.
     
    I recall a conversation years ago with Charlie Earp, the renowned Australian instructor and mentor to Greg Norman. Charlie told me that he advised Norman to play his go-to shot 80 to 85 percent of the time. Earp explained that going to one's bread-and-butter shot not only promoted confidence, but minimized the doubt and fear that often arise under pressure situations.
     
    So while you're watching your favorite Tour pro navigate the 17th at The Players Championship, consider which of the three above strategies he might be using. Better yet, get off the couch, head to your favorite 'Oh No, H2O' hole, and give them a try. You might just find that you'll hit the bull's-eye!
     
    Balls in the water at No. 17, The Players Championship:
    YearRound 1Round 2Round 3Round 4Total
    200820181016*64
    20075021101293
    2006191712957
    200578252868
    20049104730
    200361031029
    *Goydos hit 1 additional ball in the water on the 1st hole of the playoff (statistics provided by PGA Tour)
     
    Rick Jensen, Ph.D., is a nationally recognized sport psychologist and author of Drive to the Top: 5 Timeless Business Lessons Learned from Golfs Greatest Champions. Dr. Jensens clients include more than 50 touring pros on the PGA, LPGA and Champions tours. For additional information, go to www.drrickjensen.com.
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    Perez skips Torrey, 'upset' with Ryder Cup standings

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 2:19 am

    Pat Perez is unhappy about his standing on the U.S. Ryder Cup points list, and his situation won't improve this week.

    Perez won the CIMB Classic during the fall portion of this season, and he followed that with a T-5 finish at the inaugural CJ Cup. But he didn't receive any Ryder Cup points for either result because of a rule enacted by the American task force prior to the 2014 Ryder Cup which only awards points during the calendar year of the biennial matches as well as select events like majors and WGCs during the prior year.

    As a result, Perez is currently 17th in the American points race - behind players like Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Bill Haas and James Hahn, none of whom have won a tournament since the 2016 Ryder Cup - as he looks to make a U.S. squad for the first time at age 42.

    "That kind of upset me a little bit, the fact that I'm (17) on the list, but I should probably be (No.) 3 or 4," Perez told Golf Digest. "So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth. The fact that you win on the PGA Tour and you beat some good players, yet you don't get any points because of what our committee has decided to do."

    Perez won't be earning any points this week because he has opted to tee it up at the European Tour's Omega Dubai Desert Classic. The decision comes after Perez finished T-21 last week at the Singapore Open, and it means that the veteran is missing the Farmers Insurance Open in his former hometown of San Diego for the first time since 2001.

    Perez went to high school a few minutes from Torrey Pines, and he defeated a field that included Tiger Woods to win the junior world title on the South Course in 1993. His father, Tony, has been a longtime starter on the tournament's opening hole, and Perez was a runner-up in 2014 and tied for fourth last year.

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    Woods favored to miss Farmers Insurance Open cut

    By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2018, 1:54 am

    If the Las Vegas bookmakers are to be believed, folks in the San Diego area hoping to see Tiger Woods this week might want to head to Torrey Pines early.

    Woods is making his first competitive start of the year this week at the Farmers Insurance Open, and it will be his first official start on the PGA Tour since last year's event. He missed nearly all of 2017 because of a back injury before returning with a T-9 finish last month at the Hero World Challenge.

    But the South Course at Torrey Pines is a far different test than Albany, and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook lists Woods as a -180 favorite to miss the 36-hole cut. It means bettors must wager $180 to win $100, while his +150 odds to make the cut mean a bettor can win $150 with a $100 wager.

    Woods is listed at 25/1 to win. He won the tournament for the seventh time in 2013, but in three appearances since he has missed the 36-hole cut, missed the 54-hole cut and withdrawn after 12 holes.

    Here's a look at the various Woods-related prop bets available at the Westgate:

    Will Woods make the 36-hole cut? Yes +150, No -180

    Lowest single-round score (both courses par 72): Over/Under 70

    Highest single-round score: Over/Under 74.5

    Will Woods finish inside the top 10? Yes +350, No -450

    Will Woods finish inside the top 20? Yes +170, No -200

    Will Woods withdraw during the tournament? Yes +650, No -1000

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    Monahan buoyed by Tour's sponsor agreements

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 24, 2018, 12:27 am

    SAN DIEGO – Farmers Insurance announced on Tuesday at Torrey Pines a seven-year extension of the company’s sponsorship of the Southern California PGA Tour event. This comes on the heels of Sony extending its sponsorship of the year’s first full-field event in Hawaii through 2022.

    Although these might seem to be relatively predictable moves, considering the drastic makeover of the Tour schedule that will begin with the 2018-19 season, it is a telling sign of the confidence corporations have in professional golf.

    “It’s a compliment to our players and the value that the sponsors are achieving,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

    Monahan said that before 2014 there were no 10-year title sponsorship agreements in place. Now there are seven events sponsored for 10-years, and another five tournaments that have agreements in place of at least seven years.

    “What it means is, it gives organizations like the Century Club [which hosts this week’s Farmers Insurance Open], when you have that level of stability on a long-term basis that allows you to invest in your product, to grow interest and to grow the impact of it,” Monahan said. “You experienced what this was like in 2010 or seen other tournaments that you don’t know what the future is.S o to go out and sell and inspire a community and you can’t state that we have a long-term agreement it’s more difficult.”

    Events like this year’s Houston Open, Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, and The National all currently don’t have title sponsors – although officials at Colonial are confident they can piece together a sponsorship package. But even that is encouraging to Monahan considering the uncertainty surrounding next season’s schedule, which will include the PGA Championship moving to May and The Players to March as well as a pre-Labor Day finish to the season.

    “When you look back historically to any given year [the number of events needing sponsors] is lower than the typical average,” Monahan said. “As we start looking to a new schedule next year, you get excited about a great schedule with a great group of partners.”

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    Day WDs from Farmers pro-am because of sore back

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 24, 2018, 12:07 am

    SAN DIEGO – Jason Day has withdrawn from the Wednesday pro-am at the Farmers Insurance Open, citing a sore back.

    Day, the 2015 champion, played a practice round with Tiger Woods and Bryson DeChambeau on Tuesday at Torrey Pines, and he is still expected to play in the tournament.

    Day was replaced in the pro-am by Whee Kim. 

    Making his first start since the Australian Open in November, Day is scheduled to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET Thursday alongside Jon Rahm and Brandt Snedeker.