Just Dont Think About It

By Mike RitzApril 1, 2003, 5:00 pm
RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. -- Its all in the head. Or, in this case, la tte. Patricia Meunier-LeBouc became the first major champion of 2003 - thanks largely to her mind. The native of France has a laissez-faire attitude that keeps her from getting rattled under pressure. Actually, she rarely gets rattled at any time.
Meunier-LeBoucs approach to golf comes from the school of pop-rocker Cyndi Lauper: Girls just want to have fun. Patricia has put things into the proper perspective. She is constantly upbeat, happy and smiling. How could I not be? she asks rhetorically. Im out here playing golf for a living, in beautiful sunshine, with the best player in the world.
Meunier-LeBouc played her last six rounds of competitive golf alongside that best player, Annika Sorenstam. She admitted to getting a bit nervous Saturday afternoon at the Kraft Nabisco, when she built a short-lived five-stroke lead. Then, starting Sundays final round with a three-stroke lead over Annika, Patricia admitted she wasnt entirely comfortable and was playing a bit shy.
The problem: she started thinking. The mind is a terrible thing to waste. As Patricia started to look ahead ' to think about what winning this LPGA major championship would mean ' she lost her lead. Then, she says, she got comfortable again.
One never really knows whats going on inside the mind of the stoic Sorenstam; but immediately after she took the lead with a birdie on the 12th hole Sunday, she made two uncharacteristic mistakes on the next two holes. Did she let thoughts of a possible, record, third-straight Kraft Nabisco Championship creep into her Hall of Fame brain?
While Annika was apparently losing the battle with her own personal demons, Meunier-LeBouc was back playing her own game, smiling, walking jauntily up the fairways, as if she were simply strolling on a Sunday afternoon along the Champs Elysee.
As Sorenstam went bogey-bogey, Patricia went birdie-par. Within thirty minutes, the 30-year-old Frenchwoman went from one stroke behind to two ahead.
Meunier-LeBouc talks of never letting negative thoughts sneak into her head on the golf course. If there is a cavernous bunker guarding her approach to the green, she doesnt think, Oh, no, I cant hit it in there. Instead, she tells herself, So, whats the big deal if I hit it in the bunker? All I have to do next is get it up and down to save par. Add in the confidence she has developed through years of practice and competition on the European LPGA tour, and it becomes quite easy to swing freely and execute the shots.
At this extremely high level of competition, the players in contention are virtually equal in talent and ability. It is the brain that often separates the champions from the hopefuls.
Dont be surprised if Meunier-LeBouc appears often in these major championship battles ' and prevails. When asked about proving she can beat the best players in the world, she responded, I think it proves I am one of the best, yes? Confidence defeats intimidation.
Yes, the mind may be the most important tool in any golfers bag. To quote wordsmith Yogi Berra, 99 percent of the game is mental; the other half is physical.
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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.