Rory McIlroy began his final round at the Deutsche Bank Championship on Monday afternoon by quickly erasing a three-shot deficit. He then enjoyed the lead for the remainder of the tournament and picked up his third victory of the year on the PGA Tour.
However, Rory looked shaky at times coming down the stretch, making some mistakes that nearly cost him his lead.
Rarely does anyone enjoy a round of golf by hitting every shot exactly the way they want. The difference between a high-handicap golfer and a tour player is that a tour player knows how to handle adversity throughout the round and for the most part prevent big numbers from showing up on their scorecard.
McIlroy was able to recover from two very poor tee shots late in his final round to hold on for the win. His drive on the 15th hole was a chunked fairway metal that traveled roughly 100 yards shorter than he anticipated.
Instead of panicking, however, McIlroy calmly hit his approach shot just short of the green and was able to get up and down for par.
The 17th hole was even closer to disaster, as Rory got tangled up in the thick rough to the right off the tee, and again found himself in the rough after his second and third shots. But he was then able to get on the green and make a clutch 5-footer for bogey to maintain a one-shot lead.
How many times have you let a bad tee shot get under your skin, resulting in a double bogey or worse?
It usually goes like this: One poor shot then leads to another until you reach the green where a poor chip or putt adds to a quickly accumulating score.
Learn from Rory by controlling your emotions and building enough confidence in your short game that you know it can bail you out. Spend extra practice time hitting difficult shots in the short-game area, or when you are out playing for fun and there’s nobody behind you, try dropping an extra ball down and see if you can do better than your original shot.
Golf is a sport that is best played with an even-keel approach, but based on your personality, that may or may not be easy to achieve.
However, if you build confidence in your short game, you’ll have the peace of mind that comes with knowing you can erase a bad shot with a great chip or putt.