Luke Elvy: It’s a Confidence Game
I’ll let you in on a little secret; the four winners on the major tours this week had an extra club in their bag.
Before you go calling in a rules violation I’m not being literal, what Matt Kuchar, Lee Westwood, Michelle Wie and Miguel Angel Jimenez all possessed is confidence.
Michelle Wie (Credit: Nike Golf)
Renowned sports psychologist Dr Bob Rotella authored some of best books on the power of the mind; his 2nd was titled ‘Golf is a Game of Confidence’.
It’s the most powerful tool in the game and every player wants it and right now these four have it in abundance.
Matt Kuchar came into the week, off the back of three top 5 finishes including a playoff loss to Matt Jones in Houston. Many lamented his inability to close after being in contention each time, but he wasn’t concerned about that.
All Kuchar had in his mind was confidence as he’d been playing great golf and he fed off it to win. You simply can’t contend on the PGA Tour without it.
He jumped out of the blocks on the final day and was 7 under through 10 holes, he had taken control of the tournament.
Then the course showed its teeth. Strong winds and exposed holes makes the finish at Harbour Town tough, but Kuchar was steady down the stretch until three-putting the par 3 17th from 4 feet.
Instead of dwelling on the bogey, he told himself “Its not that big of a deal. It happens.” and he went on to hole a bunker shot for birdie on the last to get the well deserved win. It’s a great insight into how champions think.
Like Kuchar, Lee Westwood is also part of the Best Players To Have Never Won A Major (BPTHNWAM) conversation. He too had a chance at The Masters, but was unable to get it done.
How did he dwell on that outcome? By commuting 30 hours to Malaysia and winning the European Tour event by a massive seven shots.
After a slow start to the year, Westwood’s confidence has been growing recently for a number of reasons.
He’s got long-time caddy Billy Foster back on his bag, he started working with coach Mike Walker again and “I feel like I’ve got a short game now and I’m starting to roll a few putts in. It makes a hell of a difference.”
Look out for Westy and Kuch at Pinehurst No.2.
In Hawaii, local gal Michelle Wie claimed her third LPGA Title and first in four years. At 24, it appears the former child prodigy is starting to fulfil her potential. Why? She’s growing in confidence.
Wie’s mental state was crippled in her teenage years by accepting all those sponsors invites to play against the men on the PGA Tour.
Instead of piling up wins in amateur golf against girls her own age, she was missing cuts on a stage she was not ready for.
Now fully focussed on playing professional golf the Big Wiesy is starting to become the player she always promised to be.
In seven starts in 2014 Wie has a win, a 2nd and two other top 10s, she finished no worse than T16th. Her first major is just around the corner.
Finally what more can be said about Miguel Angel Jimenez that hasn’t been said already, the man oozes confidence.
Fresh off contending The Masters, the Most Interesting Man in Golf goes and wins his Champions Tour debut.
The charismatic Spaniard beat home Bernhard Langer and Fred Couples who also ran hot in Augusta….says a lot about confidence.
Join the conversation online with Luke Elvy at @elvisgolf