After posting the worst single-hole score of his career, Tiger Woods finished with five birdies in six holes. That was testament to his indomitable fighting spirit. Or was it? Author and coach Markus Westerberg explains
The 2020 Masters will be remembered for many things. The November date, Dustin Johnson’s record score, and Augusta National’s normally rock hard greens that played so soft and receptive. But to me, another thing stands out. Something we rarely talk about: the state of Tiger Woods’ mental game.
Leading up to Masters week, there were the usual speculations about Woods’ game. Most recently he missed the cut at the US Open and finished 72nd in a 77-man field, but everyone knows that the former orchard of South Georgia is the Big Cat’s favourite hunting ground and after carding a 68 on the first day – his first bogey-free round in a major since 2009 – hopes of more Sunday heroics were growing.
Woods’ moving day score of 72 left him 11 shots behind leader Johnson and out of the race for the Green Jacket. As usual, talk of Woods’ age, his bad back and other factors flourished. But a sliver of something un-Woods-like appeared on the Sunday back nine.
I’m not talking about Tiger’s 10 at the 12th – his first double-digit score on a single hole in his career. It is an unusual number for one of the greatest players ever, but Golden Bell is a treacherous hole and golf is a treacherous game. What I am talking about is what happened on the following holes.
Remember that this was late in the tournament and Woods still had the same back, the same age and all the other popular explanations for his failing form.
The psychological phenomenon we saw from Woods on Sunday’s back nine is explained in Chapter 31 of The Golfer’s Sixth Sense – ‘The Key is to Give Up’.
After his devastating 10, Woods carded five birdies on the last six holes. Remember that his back probably was just as bad – or worse – as for his first 66 holes of the Masters. He was probably just as – or more – tired when he made his 10 on 12.
So, what happened psychologically?
Have you ever made rigorous preparations for a golf round or tournament? Like, really put your heart into it and after 15 holes of bad golf said “the heck with it” and just set up to the ball and swung only to see the ball soar straight and long in a perfect shot?
I think this is just what happened to the five-time Masters champion on Sunday.
After his shocking 10, Woods suddenly played Tiger-golf. He experienced his best game when it was too late. After he had given up. I think what happened is that after his 12th-hole capitulation he stopped fighting and just let go – he gave up! And when golfers let go interesting things happen. This is when you get access to your full potential!
Could it be that Tiger overdid it until even he thought the Masters was over? That he simply tried too hard.
Could it be that, after all, the mighty Tiger Woods is human, just like you?
About Markus and The Golfer’s Sixth Sense
Markus Westerberg has played professional golf for 15 years. The Swede has a degree in psychology and for the last 10 years has coached everything from club golfers to international champions.
He has always been interested in the mental and technical aspects of golf and his book, The Golfer’s Sixth Sense, will help you understand how powerful your mind and body can be when they work together rather than conflicting with each other.
The potent ideas in this book are explained in a simple way and the advice is practical and relevant to all golfers.
If you think that your results don’t match the effort you put in on the golf course then this is the book for you.