Learning how to deal with pressure is reward for No. 1

By Rex HoggardMarch 16, 2016, 6:20 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – It could be the most unfulfilling title in all of professional golf.

Sure, ascending to the top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking can bring varying degrees of personal satisfaction, but there are no trophies, no checks, no exemptions – just a title and a target.

From a competitive standpoint, for the confusing math to fall your way, there has been copious amounts of success that put you there; but few, if any, stand on random putting greens around the globe rolling in 5 footers to “become world No. 1.”

With few exceptions – most notably Jason Day who admitted to dreaming about the top ranking – scaling to the top of the confusing world order ranks somewhere between earning a PGA Tour card and finding the winner’s circle in importance and prestige.

Phil Mickelson never climbed to the top of the OWGR summit, and it’s safe to say Lefty wouldn’t trade one of his major tilts for the honor. Nor did one ever get the impression that his status as the perennial No. 1 (683 weeks total) was particularly inspiring for Tiger Woods.

Although rewarding in as much as it’s a sign of how hard a player has worked to get there, the title also brings an exponentially higher level of scrutiny, which current No. 1 Jordan Spieth is learning one snarky social media post at a time.

Last week after an opening 76 at the Valspar Championship, Spieth fired back at an Instagram troll and also took exception to an out-of-context quote that was tweeted from the PGA Tour’s own account.

“You'll probably never see me do that again,” Spieth said a day later. “I should never respond to any of that, just let it go and by the time the next tournament rolls around no one even remembers it anyways.”


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But for those who have lived in the same cauldron, it’s certainly understandable that a player would get worn down by all of the attention that comes with being the world No. 1.

For Luke Donald, who ascended to No. 1 in the world in 2012, his stay at the top lasted 56 eventful weeks.

“There is a lot more demand on your time. A lot more attention on you, you’re in the spotlight,” Donald said. “I enjoyed it. I enjoyed the challenge. I feel like I’ve always had to work for my success, so to get to world No. 1 was very gratifying.”

Donald said the challenges of being world No. 1 are exclusively off-course situations and time management. As the Englishman explained, saying no becomes an art form and keeping the social media noise to a minimum is a daily challenge.

He recalled, for example, getting into contention at the 2006 PGA Championship at Medinah and turning his phone off so he wouldn’t be tempted to peak at the ongoing conversation.

“We live in a world where we kind of want to know everything. It can be good and it can be bad,” said Donald, one of the more active Tour players on social media. “You have to be wary of the negative attention. It’s tough, you have that urge to hear what other people are saying but at the same time you’re not sure you want to hear everything.”

On this front Day was uniquely suited for his short time atop the World Golf Ranking. The Australian largely avoids social media because, well, “I'm terrible at it. I think I've done 23 posts or something on Instagram and I've had it for a long time and Twitter . . . my wife tweets for me,” he conceded.

Day, for better or worse, also didn’t have to endure the spotlight for too long, overtaking Spieth atop the rankings with his victory at last year’s BMW Championship but slipping back when the American won the Tour Championship the next week.

“I couldn't really go oh, yeah, man, this is really a high-pressure situation,” Day said.

Day could, however, embrace the central theme of being world No. 1 which essentially is the ability, and desire, to deal with pressure, whether that’s on or off the golf course.

“I played a few holes with Adam Hadwin yesterday,” Day said. “We were talking about how there's guys out here that are just comfortable from 50 to 100 on the FedEx [Cup] and enjoy that spot. I was just telling him you got to be OK with feeling uncomfortable because if you're uncomfortable it usually means you're doing something right.

“I just told him that I was looking forward to being uncomfortable for the rest of my life because I'm uncomfortable out here and I'm in that spotlight.”

Only pressure comes with being world No. 1, no FedEx Cup points or paydays, which makes it difficult to quantify what the title means. But for the likes of Spieth and Day and Donald, how you deal with that scrutiny is it’s own unique reward.

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Rose leads halted Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters when bad weather stopped play Friday during the second round.

The Englishman, who shot a 10-under 62 on Thursday, had completed 13 holes and was 5 under on the day at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat (64) was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew wit on the 11th hole at 2 under for the day after shooting an opening 72.

There was no reason given for his withdrawal, but the American has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.


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Finances


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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.