It is Pettersens first victory on tour. So afterward I asked Tom Pernice, Jr., what he thought of Pettersens game. Pernice is the guy who finished second one week earlier at Disney, needing only 95 putts for 72 holes. At Chrysler, Pernice tied for third. In both events he was paired with Pettersen for at least one round.
Solid player, Pernice told me. Very solid player.
So what, I asked, got him over the hump Sunday?
Well, Pernice said, I think the difference might be the long putter. I think the long putter should be outlawed. But I think that might be the difference for Pettersen. But hes a very solid player.
Then I asked Pettersen how long he had been using the long putter.
Seven years, he said. And if I hadnt had that putter on the last hole, it would have been a mess.
This is not meant to be a screed against the long putter and a supporting position to those who think its too much of a crutch. More, its just another example of what confidence can do in golf. It is our sports strongest legal drug.
How else do you explain Steve Lowery missing his first eight cuts of the year and then coming back so strongly the last two weeks? Or Tag Ridings missing his first four cuts and rallying late in the season?
As recently as Las Vegas, earlier this month, Lowery was right on the bubble'No. 125 on the money list. But strong weeks at Disney and Chrysler have pushed him up to No. 88 on the money list. Ridings was on the outside of the top 125 looking in last Thursday. He responded with a 67 on Sunday, good for a tie for third. He now ranks No. 101 on the money list.
Both are safe from losing their cards.
For that matter, Pernice didnt have a top 10 all year until the last two weeks. Then he goes second and third.
The problem with confidence in golf is its ethereal nature. It comes. And it goes. You can hit balls all day on the range and one bad shot on the first hole can strip you of the good feeling you thought you had and ruin your day.or week.or year.
Similarly, you can be hitting it sideways on the practice ground and make one good strike on the first tee and.bingo.a light will go on. Suddenly the game will be easy.
The golf sports psychologists, most notably Bob Rotella, know much more about these phenomena than I do. It is what they do.
But I know this: If you play professional golf for a living and your name is anywhere near any of the money list bubbles that surface this time of year, confidence better be your best friend.
And if it takes a long putter to enhance that friendship--and if its legal--more power to you.
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