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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Who Beat Robert Allenby?

The books will show that Anthony Kim beat Robert Allenby in the semifinals of the World Match Play Championship on Saturday. Everybody was anxious to see what would happen on their next meeting... and they saw a pretty sound thumping, a 5 & 3 victory, after the 5 & 4 pounding at the Presidents Cup a month ago.

But I can't help wondering if Allenby didn't beat himself.

ESPN.com has an interesting post about the round here. Of course, the controversy over Allenby's comments after the Presidents Cup is common knowledge, as is the talk about everything being settled between them. I'm not going to get into that, because only they know if they really got things straightened out... but ESPN mentioned something I found interesting. It might help you in your next match.

The ESPN post specifically mentions Allenby being irritated by Kim not giving him some short putts. "I was definitely surprised at not being given a few putts out there. I gave him a couple of four-footers. Maybe I'll do the same to him this afternoon." When questioned, Kim said, "I don't think I made him putt any short putts, maybe a two-and-a-half footer. But it had a lot of break. It's match play."

The post also says the two hardly spoke to each other during their rematch.

Again, I didn't see the entire match, so I don't know for sure what happened. But I do know this: In match play, every player has to expect to make every putt. It may be considered a courtesy to concede short ones, but concessions certainly aren't required.

What interests me is why a strong competitor like Robert Allenby would concede four-foot putts. That sounds like someone with a guilty conscience trying to make a peace offering. (Yeah, I know some might also say that Kim had it in for Allenby and was deliberately trying to take him off his game. That may be so... but it just makes the conceded four-footers even more conspicuous, don't you think? Why give those kind of putts to someone who isn't even giving you the short ones?)

Here's my point: Golf is just a game, and you won't play well if you let other problems interfere. Golf can be an escape, but it's not a panacea. Allenby's comments at the Presidents Cup were inappropriate, although I'm willing to cut him some slack because he's had a tough year (especially with his mom's death) and frustration sometimes causes you to say and do stupid things you wouldn't normally do. But did he concede those long putts to "make a peace offering" because he feels guilty... and did he expect Kim to concede putts in return to show that he accepted the gesture?

That's no way to play golf. But we all have a tendency to do that sort of thing, don't we?

Don't take golf personally, and don't make it personal. It's a game, which means somebody wins and somebody loses... and that's all. Don't make it into anything more.

Allenby may have given this one away simply because he couldn't separate game and ego... and it'll just make his next match against Kim that much harder. Make sure you don't make the same mistake.

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