Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Sergio, We Need to Talk

Look, I know you're frustrated. You've come close in the majors several times but you just can't seem to break through and get one. I understand -- it hurts. But that doesn't mean you're not good enough.

Look how long it took Phil to grab his first one. It took him a looooong time, and the media didn't let him forget it either. But just because it took him a long time didn't mean he wasn't good enough. It just meant he needed more time.

Look at all the guys who managed to grab one -- guys who looked like they were ready to win several majors -- and never won another one. Guys like Davis Love III, Justin Leonard, Tom Lehman, and Fred Couples to name a few. Do you think they just suddenly lost "it," whatever "it" is? Rory's the newest "can't miss kid" but I believe you beat him pretty soundly this week, didn't you?

Look at all the players who still haven't got one. Colin Montgomerie and Lee Westwood are high on that list. Do you believe they're incapable of winning a major? And how long did it take Darren Clarke to get one? He's well into his 40s now. (I think you've still got some time.)

Have you forgotten that there are only 4 majors each year? You said it's been 13 winless years for you. By my count you've played 44 majors, counting your Opens in 1996 and 1998. (Phil took more than that to get his first one. I think he needed 46.) Tiger snagged 14 of those, Phil took 4, and Vijay another 3. That cut your possibilities by nearly one-half, and you're not the only one that got burned during that time.

Of course Padraig took another 3 of those majors, and I know 2 of those losses were particularly painful for you. But luck is part of the deal. Even Tiger and Phil get bad breaks that cost them majors. (Just check out Phil's triples this past week.)

So let's lose that whiny "I'm just not good enough" speech. You've got more talent than the majority of players currently on Tour, and you know it. Or maybe you feel so sorry for yourself right now that you can't see straight. May I quote you?
"If I felt like I could win, I would do it. Unfortunately at the moment, unless I get really lucky in one of the weeks, I can't really play much better than I played this week and I'm going to finish 13th or 15th."
This whole quote is so ludicrous that I can't believe it came out of your mouth. It's time somebody gave you a piece of their mind. So, as we say down here in the South, sit your ass down and let me talk some sense into you!

First of all, Phil felt like he could win last weekend. Did he do it? Last time I checked, Bubba was wearing the green jacket. Stupid thought #1: You have to feel like you can win in order to win. If that was true, sick golfers would never win... and we all know to beware of those guys, don't we?

Stupid thought #2: You played well on Sunday and couldn't have played much better. What have you been drinking, Sergio? Since when did 71 become a good final-round score? Since when did -2 become the best you can play? Only a month ago at Riviera -- a pretty tough course -- you shot -5 with a second-round 76 (worse than any score you shot at Augusta) and a 64 in the final round. Last year you shot -5 at the U.S. Open on a course with lots more rough than Augusta. And given how bad your mental state has been the last few years, I'd say you're nowhere near the level of play you usually display.

The only accurate thing you said was "at the moment." You're beating yourself, Sergio. Right now you still aren't fully in the game. I don't have a problem that you're struggling with low confidence right now, at this moment. Everybody goes through it eventually, and the talented people usually get it the worst because they expect so much from themselves.

You're a big boy, Sergio, so I'll be blunt with you. What you need is simple: You need a new strategy. You're where Phil was before 2004 -- you don't know how to turn a 75 into a 72. Do you know what "parity" means? It means that everybody leaves their game to chance, that they play well when they feel like they can win.

I got news for you: A blind mule can win a tournament when everything is going his way. You think your skill should be enough to win a major, but it isn't. It never has been and it never will be... not for anybody. Part of the reason Tiger won so many majors is that the other players thought just like you do. In their minds, Tiger had more skill so he was going to win.

No offense to Y.E. Yang, but if you think he's got more shots in his arsenal than Tiger, you're certifiably nuts. Y.E. beat Tiger because he knew that scores, not skills, win majors. They don't give you bonus points just because you can bend the ball like Bubba or hit a Tiger stinger. They give you the trophy because you put the ball in the hole with fewer strokes.

You, my friend, are taking too damn many strokes. Don't blame some "golf god" for your losses to Padraig or Tiger. You want something to blame? Check your stats. You're putting great -- you're 14th in Strokes Gained-Putting -- but you're 154 in Scrambling.

Here's what you need to do. First, go talk to Jack or Arnie or Gary. Ask them to teach you how to win... then do what they say. Just ask Rory whether it works or not. And second, practice your scrambling. Not to put too fine a point on it, but you suck around the greens. That's something you can fix.

You've got a lot of majors in you, Sergio. I believe in you. You really can do this!

But it's time you learned to believe in yourself. (And work on your scrambling. You suck at scrambling.)

And I took the quote from this article at espn.com.

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