I thought the PGA Championship this morning was fantastic. I had an inkling that it was time for Tiger to be overtaken in a final round and it proved to be true. Y.E Yang winning will be great for golf and think of the frenzy this will cause in some parts of Asia?
The one thing that really impressed me came from Nick Faldo. His comments after Yang produced the shot of his life on 18 really struck a chord with me. I paraphrase
Sometimes the best way to make par is to play for birdie.
I couldn’t agree more. It can be difficult to swing freely when the pressure is on. The tendency is to play safe and change your natural game. Both combatants today played exceptional golf and truly went for their shots. There was no choking or playing safe. Tiger will probably get criticised but he couldn’t have done much more. Here’s a brief rundown of the last few holes.
Hole 13, par 3 – Tiger hit an incredible 2 iron to about 10 feet and just missed the putt. Yang found the bunker and made a good putt for three.
Hole 14, short par 4 – Yang chipped in for eagle and Tiger made birdie (side note: Holes don’t need to be 450+ metres to be good).
Hole 15, par 5 – After hitting a monster drive, Tiger mishit his second (he had a tricky downhill lie but went for the green). His pitch was an excellent shot but it came up slightly short, the birdie putt only just missed. Yang played the hole well and matched Tiger’s par.
Hole 16, par 4 – Both players hit good tee shots. Tiger found the green and Yang hit an awesome approach that only just cleared the water and finished about 15 feet from the pin. Both players made 4.
Hole 17, par 3 – Yang found the green and Tiger hit a 7 iron that covered the flag. Unfortunately for him it flew too far and into a difficult lie. He couldn’t get up and down. Yang made his only mistake and three-putted.
Hole 18, par 4 – Two great drives (many struggled with this tee shot) and then Yang hit the shot of his life. A three rescue to 10 feet. Tiger also hit a good shot, it only just missed the green to the left. He tried to make his chip – missed it and the event was Yang’s.
Tiger played great golf. He went for every shot and I don’t think he could have played any better. On any other day an extra putt or two would have fallen and an approach shot finished closer to the hole – it usually does but this time it didn’t.
When many before him have failed, Yang played golf like he wanted to win. He actually played the kind of golf Tiger usually does. He swung freely and was up to the challenge. And this is exactly how to deal with pressure and make sure you finish each round in style.
Instead of playing safely and changing your style, here’s what you can do. Take a deep breath, focus on what you want to achieve and then go for it. You might not make a birdie but I guarantee that you’ll maximise your chances of taking a par. And when you want to finish off a good round, par is almost always good enough.