This is not a post about golf. This is a story about pressure.
For golf and non-golf fans alike, this week is the SuperBowl of the Sport; The Masters. The 79th edition where the world’s greatest players converge on Augusta, Georgia with the willingness to sacrifice their first born child (Tiger Woods will never know which one on this earth was his first, but pretty sure he would give them up to the golf Gods) in hopes of winning a bright green dinner jacket – yes really.
This week the world has been not-so-surprised by the incredible play of Jordan Speith, a 21 year old phenom from Texas that clearly appears to be the next legend in the sport. He has broken several records over these last 3 days of competition and looks like the clear favorite to finish it off on Sunday for his first Major Championship.
As young Mr. Speith walked off the 18th green last evening with a commanding lead, I started thinking about how he would manage the next 30 hours until he hit his next golf shot. The pressure. The mind games you must play on yourself. The media examining every word, action and emotion.
Clearly this “kid” is not phased and likely will handle the situation beautifully. BUT, what would I do if I were in his silly white golf shoes?
Here is a frame by frame of how athletes like Jordan handle the pressure in the hours before the biggest round/match/game/etc of their lives looming versus how folks like me would bide their time.
Jordan Speith: Sign his card, shake a few hands, give a few hugs and visit the practice green to fine tune a few points of his game.
FM: High five EVERY member of the gallery. Do a few funnels of beer and sign autographs of hot females ONLY. Practice, schmactice.
JS: Discuss a game plan for Sunday. Eat a light dinner with family
FM: Straight to the bar. I’m buying shots, y’all. Line em up. Anyone want a steak? Yup, I’m buying those suckers, too.
JS: Lights out. Night night
FM: ‘Hey Tiger, any good strip joints in Augusta?’
FM: Smoking weed with 4 University of Georgia sophomores and Arnold Palmer in back of an Uber limo.
JS: Alarm goes off – its game day.
FM: ‘Can I get a wake up call for 10? Oh, and can you send up some nachos?’
JS: Finish breakfast, off to the practice tee
JS: Already had an hour on practice tee. Time to chip and putt.
FM: Open eyes. Realize the pressure in front of me. Throw up nachos and sit in bathtub while shower pummels my sad, hungover body. And I’m crying.
JS: Final equipment check. Lunch. Take a little time to rest up.
FM: Still trying to catch a cab to the course from the Waffle House Hotel I somehow managed to end up in. Where are my clubs?
JS: Start to loosen up. Stretch. Chip and putt.
FM: I really need to find a bathroom, some Advil and a maybe a cheeseburger
JS: Final prep. Stay loose. Hydrate.
ME: I am so tired. Where is my wallet? Oh, there are my clubs. I don’t even have a caddy. I need a beer.
JS: Mental prep and head for the 1st tee to make history. I got this.
FM: Hide in the coat room of the clubhouse. I can’t do this. Throw up again and need new underwear.
JS: It is finally here and I am ready! Let’s do this!
FM: Tournament officials find me in the coatroom. Drag me toward first tee. I haven’t swung club. I am going to literally die of heart failure. Oops, and need more underwear gentlemen. Stat.
2:55PM Sunday TEE TIME
JS: Stripes his first shot down the middle the roaring applause of the fans.
The first shot toward history.
FM: Rip a hook shot dead left into the gallery and kill a 58 year old woman. Almost simultaneously I puke, shit and faint. Dragged off course and forced to withdraw from The Masters without completing a hole.
The first shot is whiskey.
Best of luck today, Mr. Speith! I’ll be watching and eating nachos from the safety of my couch.