The last words most of us hear when leaving the house for a round of golf are 1. Don’t be too long 2. Try not to eat too much, and 3. Can you bring some milk back with you? Maverick McNealy is in a slightly different position to the rest of us given he now plays on the PGA Tour and his girlfriend, Danielle Kang, is a major champion. And a ‘talking to’ over the phone from Kang helped the rookie to his best finish so far in his young career.
The former World No. 1 amateur began his Houston Open week with a 68 before rounds of 74 and 73 knocked him back. Which is when Kang, who was part of the American Solheim Cup team at Gleneagles, stepped in with three things to focus on in his final round.
1. Don’t look at the leaderboards – “So I intentionally did not look at a single leaderboard.”
2. Be stronger and stricter with the mental scorecards – “I did that with 95 per cent of my shots. I only had two shots that I wasn’t fully focused or in the zone or committed on, so I was really happy with that. If I can keep it to two or less, it’s going to be a good day.”
3. Say two good things to yourself after every shot – At the 16th, after four successive birdies, he was between clubs and had bogeyed the hole the previous two days. He hit a soft-cut 8-iron. “It’s just a shot I’ve been struggling with and it was an awkward number. Firstly I really committed to starting it left and hitting a hold-off cut and I hit flush in the centre of the face.”
All of which helped add up to a 7-under 65, five straight birdies (he birdied the 16th) and a tie for 17th worth $110,625.
Another Kang bonus is that McNealy is now working with her coach who is none other than Butch Harmon.
Could the golf ball be rolled back for everyone?