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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Sergio's Good Thoughts

Although there was a lot of talk about Sergio and Tiger barking at each other after Saturday's round, I was pleased to hear how Sergio dealt with the fiasco at 17 on Sunday. Perhaps there's something from it that you can use as well.

First of all, ignore the tee shot at 18. Sergio knew he'd lost after the quad at 17 and simply wasn't interested anymore. You can argue that he should have stayed focused and tried to make the best score he could, but I'm not gonna rag him for checking out. Sergio wanted the win, period. I'll let him on that one.

Sergio explained his thinking to the media after the round. (NOTE: Many times in the past, Sergio would have stormed off and refused to talk. Not only did he talk, but he seemed to be in a pretty good mood, all things considered. I say that's a positive.) I heard several things I think can help us weekend players.

After the birdie at 16 -- in fact, he said after the 10th or 11th hole -- he felt pretty good about his game, maybe too good. That wasn't pessimism; rather, it was an acknowledgement that he might have gotten a bit sloppy in his thinking. After all, he went right at the hole when it might have been better to play more toward the center of the green and take his chances. That's what Tiger did and if Sergio had, he might have walked off 17 still tied for the lead. First tip: Don't start thinking you're bulletproof out there. Don't take unnecessary risks just because you're playing well.

Although most watchers probably thought Sergio lost his nerve or made a bad club choice, Sergio actually made some reasonable assumptions. He said he was afraid his adrenaline was running too high, so he tried to take something off his tee shot. (Obviously he took too much off.) For his third shot he opted to play from the tee rather than the drop zone because of the wind direction. These were both reasonable decisions based on his knowledge of his own game. The real problem was in being too aggressive -- something he seems to have considered in retrospect, based on how he answered the press. Second tip: You can make several good decisions but still beat yourself if you get too aggressive out there.

But perhaps the best thing I heard him say -- and it's the reason I don't think this "collapse" is going to derail his future play -- is that he simply chalked it up to a bad day. He noted that the 17th had been very good to him in the past (he won a TPC in a playoff at the 17th, you know) and that things don't always go your way. I really liked that. Third tip: Remember the good shots that you've hit and let those determine your mindset, not the bad shots.

I suspect Sergio will talk to Adam Scott about this and he'll be just fine. After all, Adam played 4 really bad holes to finish the 2012 Open Championship but decided to remind himself that he played 68 great ones... and now he's got a Masters. Sergio only had 2 bad holes... and 70 good ones. I think he'll be just fine.

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