One of the greatest choking hazards a golfer faces is a large lead with 18 or fewer holes to play. And here's why; any golfer within 8 strokes of you has a legitimate shot at catching you! When a golfer get's out in front they often start to play a different style of golf and we have all seen the results of this change - Norman in '96 Masters (I could put multiple events for Norman here), Van de Velde in the '99 Open, Palmer with a 7 shot lead and 9 holes to go in the US Open at Olympic......
(Did you know - Jean Van de Velde's ball crossed the burn 8 times on the 72nd hole of the '99 British Open!)
With a big lead the mind and approach tends to change and when that happens you are in big trouble. Think of it this way - if you were competing in a one round event against all the players within 8 strokes of you, you could play relatively well, yet still lose to one or more of the players in that limited field by more than 8 strokes! And that's without any change in approach!
If you ever find yourself in a situation where you have a large lead (and I hope you do!) forget protecting and go out and play golf the way you played to get yourself in that position! Play the event as if it were a one round shootout and all the golfers are tied with you starting the round. A golf tournament is a marathon; you can only play protective golf (and get away with it!) with three or fewer holes to go.
A FURTHER UPDATE ON THE "RELEASE THE PUTTER" POST:
I thought the following two photographs might clarify the difference between a proper release of the putter and a non-release.
I hope the above pictures help to clarify any confusion that there might have been. The furthest point from the axis of a pendulum travels the furthest.
Let the putter head swing!
U.S. Open Notes:
Tiger and Hank snuck out to Bethpage Black yesterday following El Tigre's amazing finish at the Memorial. Just listening to the commentary gives you an idea of what it must be like to play in front of NY sports fans!
Here is a great photo blog by Barton Silverman on Bethpage Black. Gotta love the local flavor!
This is an interesting article by John Branch about what it takes to play the Black.
Jim McCabe writes a nice piece on what it's like to try to make it to the U.S. Open
How about this: Steve Marino (26), Charley Hoffman (20), Charles Howell III (28) and Kevin Na (13) all failed to qualify for the U.S. Open. They are all in the top 30 on the money list and will be watching on TV just like you and me.....Crazy! So much for a world class field.
Well done to former student Kyle Stanley on qualifying for the U.S. Open for the second year in a row!
If you are ever in the Hilton Head area and are looking to go and catch some fish please look up my friend Capt. Christiaan Pollitzer on the Bulldog. I fished with him yesterday and we caught 6 cobia and a red snapper amongst various other denizons of the deep! I actually invited friends to a cobia dinner before we even left the dock - the man is a fishing legend!