Confidence a Fleeting Thing

By Michael CollinsMarch 13, 2008, 4:00 pm
Editor's note: Michael Collins has been a stand-up comedian for 15 years and has more than seven years experience as a professional caddie. He currently covers the PGA TOUR as a correspondent with XM Satellite Radio and takes his turn on The Turn Mondays on GOLF CHANNEL.
I talked to Sean OHair after his win last week and he said something interesting to me after all the press conferences and media attention that comes with winning a tournament.
Mike, he said, I watched a video of myself my rookie year in 05. I didnt watch my set up, swing or putting stroke I watched myself. I watched the way I walked, the look in my eyes, my facial expressions and I saw something I hadnt seen since I had won. I was playing golf. I was just a scrawny kid with no cares in the world, not worrying about making mistakes, or trying to be a 'TOUR pro.' I was being myself and I was comfortable just doing that.
I was still laughing from the part of him saying he was a scrawny kid. Then he laughed and said, OK, he was even scrawnier back then, which made us both laugh. But it got me thinking about how easy it is out here to lose who you are.
Sean and I talked a bit after winning in 05 how he watched other guys, what they did, and started trying to mimic their work-out routines and practice habits -- wanting to be one of the best in the world and thinking that he had to change to do that. Two years of hard work, a new caddie and still nothing. All it took was a look back at an old video of himself and bingo. Amazingly enough he told me how easy it was to fall into that trap.
What most of you reading this dont realize is, yeah these guys are good, but underneath it all (except for the top 5 guys you know) their cocky confidence is teetering on a razor blade. That Im the best look in their eyes can be switched to a confused toddlers look in two holes.
Ninety percent of the guys out here currently or recently have spoken to a sports psychologist, and many have cried on their couch. The biggest fear of a PGA TOUR pro is the thought that he doesnt belong out here.
Every guy has had a moment where he sits in his hotel room, looks in the mirror and says to himself, Who you trying to fool? And there are a lot more Sean OHairs than there are Tiger Woods. Did you see the look in Stewart Cinks eyes when he was walking up the fifth fairway at the PODS? The confident look that was in his eyes walking off the second hole after making his second birdie was gone. Man did that bring back lot of memories
The very first time I caddied it was for Robert Gamez way back in the day when Robert had to play in his first Nationwide Tour event, Nike Tour back then, in Shreeveport, La. I had no idea what I was doing as a caddie and we had no practice rounds because the course had been flooded.
We get on the first tee, a downhill par-5, I hand him (mistake 1) the driver and say, Dont hit it in the bunker cause I dont know how to rake. Lets go! The look on his face couldve been used in a MasterCard commercial -- priceless. This look confused me at the time, that is until he hit his drive square in the middle of that bunker!
So we walk down there and he hops in the bunker and says to me, Im gonna hit it in the front bunker, get up and down for birdie.
I jokingly say back to him, You make me rake two bunkers on one hole and Im leaving! You already know where he hit it. I put the bag down and start walking back to the clubhouse. Hes laughing and cursing me out telling me to get my funny a-- in that first bunker and start raking.
Needless to say we laughed ourselves to Friday and back on that first hole. By the 10th, we had an eagle putt to tie for the lead! After a three putt for par, the look in his eyes changed. It was the first time I had seen that but what came next: bogey 11, double 12, triple 13, bogey 14. So were walking up the 15th fairway and he looks at me and says , So you wanna drive to Milwaukee or fly?
What just happened? Seriously, that was the only thing I could get out of my mouth, followed by, Your name was right there! I say pointing to the scoreboard thinking about not playing on the weekend.
Thats just been how it goes for me lately, he replied.
And in that statement, I learned almost everything I needed to know about pro golfers. Two time winner on the PGA TOUR, Rookie of the Year, and all it took was one bad hole. Even when pros start trying to force things to happen, nothing good happens.
Of course there is an upside, hes won another PGA TOUR event (Valero Texas Open) since and hes doing just fine.
The point of this whole thing is this, twice this year (remember Bob Hope!) big names have gone into the final round with a big lead and twice they have collapsed and lost.
Cue the music, And these are the days, of the PGA TOUR Lives!
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