Shrink Rap

By Brian HewittNovember 2, 2005, 5:00 pm
Since waxing prosaic on the subject of confidence in golf in my Monday column on this website, I stumbled across a fascinating article in the October issue of Clinics in Sports Medicine.
One of the subjects tackled in the article was the dreaded yips, which, in the parlance of the golf shrinks, is called focal dystonia.
And I quote: When an athlete experiences the yips, or a focal dystonia, the pathways that govern the inhibition of competing motor programs break down. This results in the overriding of the original motor program. Therefore, instead of the individual making one smooth stroke engaging the appropriate motor program, the smooth stroke is interrupted with a twitch. Two motor programs are operating simultaneously, leading to miss-hit shots.
Sure, by now, youre scratching your head and thinking somewhere Harvey Penick is spinning wildly in his grave.
But theres more..
.The neuroanatomy of the basal ganglia and concomitant neurophysiology are currently of great research interest in the neuroscience community. It appears clear that stress causes release of the activating neurotransmitter glutamate, which in turn causes release of dopamine in basal ganglia pathways that may result in the disinhibition of competing motor programs. This is the reason why yips become more stressful under stressful circumstances.
Hoo boy!.....And here I thought all these years Basil Ganglia was the coach of the Hungarian national soccer team and competing motor programs were NASCAR and Indy.
In defense of the articles authors'Terrence P. Clark, Ian Tofler and Michael Lardon'they make a lot of terrific points. Lord knows theyve done their homework.
A round of golf, they point out, usually takes four to five hours to play yet the golf swing usually takes less than three seconds. Which means the swings that count over the course of a round for a touring pro last about three and a half minutes.
The excessive down time, the authors say, can lead to obsessive thinking and distraction, as well as amplification of pre-existing negative self-perceptions, performance anxiety, panic and affective overarousal.
I know exactly what theyre talking about. Its just that I never would have chosen those exact words. Obsessive thinking and distraction, I would have guessed, is what a lot of the guys I know engage in when the cart girl approaches.
But the authors are bang on when they get around to talking about confidence in golf. They define it as a state of mind marked by freedom from uncertainty coupled with a sense that a desired task will be accomplished.
The much coveted zone in golf is, they say, a kind of flow. Flow is a state experienced in a task-oriented activity. The individual may experience a sense of absorption, loss of self-consciousness, an almost dissociative detachment, power, pleasure altered perception of time (usually slowing) and a sense of control and unity.
Think, for a second, how much an entrepreneur could make if he ever found a way to bottle this flow.
The authors also get around to the subject of choking. They posit the notion that Jean Van de Velde turned in one of the greatest chokes of all-time at the 1999 Open Championship at Carnoustie.
They do not discuss the number of people who wanted to choke Van de Velde more recently when he said he would shave his legs and wear a kilt if thats what it took to get the Frenchman into the field at the Womens British Open.
There are a lot of those people at the moment.
Of that I am confident.
Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
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Three of world's top 5 MC; not 60-year-old Langer

By Mercer BaggsJuly 20, 2018, 7:04 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Three of the top five players in the world missed the cut at The Open.

Bernhard Langer did not.

The 60-year-old, who is in the field via his victory in last year’s Senior Open Championship, shot even-par 71 on Friday. At 2 over through 36 holes, he safely made it under the plus-3 cut line.

"You know, I've played the Masters [this year], made the cut. I'm here and made the cut. I think it is an accomplishment," he said. "There's a lot of great players in the field, and I've beaten a lot of very good players that are a lot younger than me."

Langer had three birdies and three bogeys in the second round and said afterwards that he was “fighting myself” with his swing. He’s spent the last few days on the phone with his swing coach, Willy Hoffman, trying to find some comfort.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Despite his score, and his made cut, Langer the perfectionist wasn’t satisfied with the way he went about achieving his results.

"I wasn't happy with my ball-striking. My putting was good, but I was unlucky. I had like four lip-outs, no lip-ins. That part was good. But the ball-striking, I wasn't really comfortable with my swing," he said. "Just, it's always tough trying stuff in the middle of a round."

Langer, a two-time Masters champion, has never won The Open. He does, however, have six top-3 finishes in 30 prior starts.

As for finishing higher than some of the top-ranked players in the world, the World Golf Hall of Famer is taking it in stride.

"I'm not going to look and say, 'Oh, I beat Justin Rose or beat whatever.' But it just shows it's not easy. When some of the top 10 or top 20 in the world don't make the cut, it just shows that the setup is not easy," Langer said. "So I got the better half of the draw maybe, too, right? It wasn't much fun playing in the rain, I guess, this morning for five hours. I had to practice in the rain, but I think once I teed off, we never used umbrellas. So that was a blessing."

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Kisner doubles 18, defends not laying up

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 6:42 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – It was only fitting that Jean Van de Velde was there working as an on-course reporter on Friday as Kevin Kisner struggled his way up Carnoustie’s 18th fairway.

Rolling along with a two-stroke lead, Kisner’s 8-iron approach shot from an awkward lie in the rough from 160 yards squirted right and bounced into Barry Burn, the winding creek where Van de Velde’s title chances at the 1999 Open Championship began to erode.

Unlike Van de Velde, who made a triple bogey-7 and lost The Open in a playoff, Kisner’s double bogey only cost him the solo lead and he still has 36 holes to make his closing miscue a distant memory. That’s probably why the 34-year-old seemed at ease with his plight.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“It just came out like a high flop shot to the right. It was weird. I don't know if it caught something or what happened,” said Kisner, who was tied with Zach Johnson and Zander Lombard at 6 under par. “You never know out of that grass. It was in a different grass than usual. It was wet, green grass instead of the brown grass. So I hadn't really played from that too much.”

Like most in this week’s field Kisner also understands that rounds on what is widely considered the most difficult major championship venue can quickly unravel even with the most innocent of mistakes.

“To play 35 holes without a double I thought was pretty good,” he said. “I've kept the ball in play, done everything I wanted to do all the way up into that hole. Just one of those things that came out completely different than we expected. I'll live with that more than chipping out and laying up from 20 feet.”

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Wind, not rain more a weekend factor at Open

By Mercer BaggsJuly 20, 2018, 6:39 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – After a half-day of rain in Round 2 of the 147th Open Championship, the weekend offers a much drier forecast.

Saturday at Carnoustie is projected to be mostly cloudy with a high of 62 degrees and only a 20 percent chance of rain.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Sunday calls for much warmer conditions, with temperatures rising upwards of 73 degrees under mostly cloudy skies.

Wind might be the only element the players have to factor in over the final 36 holes. While the winds will be relatively calm on Saturday, expected around 10-15 mph, they could increase to 25 mph in the final round.

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Van Rooyen holes putt after ball-marker ruling

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 4:50 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Erik van Rooyen was surveying his 10-footer for par, trying to get a feel for the putt, when his putter slipped out of his hand and dropped onto his ball marker.

The question, then, was whether that accident caused his coin to move.

The rules official looked at various camera angles but none showed definitively whether his coin moved. The ruling was made to continue from where his coin was now positioned, with no penalty.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

This was part of the recent rules changes, ensuring there is no penalty if the ball or ball maker is accidently moved by the player. The little-used rule drew attention in 2010, when Ian Poulter accidentally dropped his ball on his marker in Dubai and wound up losing more than $400,000 in bonus and prize money.

After the delay to sort out his ruling Friday, van Rooyen steadied himself and made the putt for par, capping a day in which he shot even-par 71 and kept himself in the mix at The Open. He was at 4-under 138, just two shots off the clubhouse lead.

“I wanted to get going and get this 10-footer to save par, but I think having maybe just a couple minutes to calm me down, and then I actually got a different read when I sat down and looked at it again,” he said. “Good putt. Happy to finish that way.”