Ryder Cup Pressure

Oct 14th, 2010No Comments

Wow, what a Monday that I saw on TV with the Ryder Cup singles matches. I had not been able to follow too much of the weekend team matches, but now to see the individuals go at it, it was very interesting to see how the mental game came into play. After it was said and done, Europe beat the United States. The United States came out and they never quit and they went and almost made a great comeback. What was interesting with the commentators during that time is that at the start of the telecast, it seemed to be kind of a preconceived notion that Europe’s going to win. Almost like a moral victory of, “let’s try to have some pride for the USA to make it at least somewhat of a match”. Then as the tide started to turn towards the US, it now became mathematically possible for the United States to win, and now the attention became on the Rickie Fowler match and the Hunter Mahan  match. What happened here? As you may know, Rickie Fowler went birdie, birdie on the 17 and 18 to halve his match, which now again put it into Hunter Mahan’s hands that he needed to halve the match in order for the United States to retain the Ryder Cup. Then you saw a different Hunter Mahan. I really like Hunter and I think he’s fantastic player who’s got a great future in front of him. It’s interesting now that once it became apparent that their match was the only one left, that his physical skills were now affected by the mental game. He did not hit the fairway on 16. He did not hit the green on 16. He hit a poor iron shot on 17 and hit a poor chip shot on 17, so he never made solid contact like he did earlier in the match. So,  what happened? Did the situation become too big for him? I’m not sure. I think he obviously was distracted in some sorts and there was some nervous energy going and he wasn’t able to perform. When you ask Graeme McDowell after his win how is this different than winning the US Open, he says “this is the most nervous I have ever been”, and yet he performed very, very well. He made a birdie on 16. He hit a solid golf shot on 17 and put it close so that he was going to have a par putt to win it anyway. He thrives under that pressure and used that energy. I think Hunter was playing almost too hard and I think he felt the enormity of winning for himself, for his team, for his country, and it got the better of him unfortunately. So, the mental game of golf again is the difference between who wins and loses. I think it’s important to understand the best of the best that has been under the most pressure, they also have their breaking point.

Leave a Reply