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Preparing for the pressure that comes in a playoff

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There are few things more exciting than a playoff on the PGA Tour. As a competitive golfer, finding yourself in a playoff is even more exciting, or nerve racking.

Brian Gay completed a come-from-behind victory Sunday in the Humana Challenge by way of a three-man playoff, as he would birdie the second playoff hole to ultimately beat out Charles Howell III.

What makes playoffs exciting is their uniqueness, not only for the fans but also for the competitors.

You can play your way into a playoff several ways, but once you’re there it’s time to get back on the course and take care of business.

Coming out on top in a playoff will depend on your mental preparedness for the situation. Use the info below as a guideline to make your next playoff experience result in a victory:

• If a playoff can happen, it will happen. Okay, maybe not always, but prepare your mind like it will. If you’re in the clubhouse early and in contention, make sure you stay loose and/or give yourself time to get loose before a playoff would start. Playoffs are stressful, so do all you can to eliminate the unnecessary stress of being surprised to find out you’re going to extra holes.

• When the playoff begins, the past no longer matters. Momentum is huge in sports, but it’s important to remember that in golf the next streak might only be one swing away. The most important shot in golf is the next one, so it doesn’t matter how you ended up in extra holes, the mindset needs to be the same: Play it one shot at a time.

• Never give up. A double bogey can win the tournament if your opponent makes triple. A few years ago, Angel Cabrera would go on to win The Masters in a three-man playoff after a dreadful tee shot on the first playoff hole. He scrambled to make par and ultimately won on the next hole. A poor drive or second shot may not sink you, so staying positive and focusing all of your attention on the next shot will keep the possibility of victory alive.

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