Mind Over Sports

Posts Tagged ‘PGA

In November, 1997, Tom Watson quit drinking and his wife, Linda, divorced him. Not long after, in 1998, Professional Golfer Denis Watson (of Zimbabwe) went through a divorce when his wife, Hilary, left him and their three infant children (Kyle, Paige and Ross) and shortly thereafter, in 1999, married Tom. She must have been madly in love with Tom to have abandoned her three small children and one would think that, right after Tom and Hilary were married, his golf game would have improved immensely. But it didn’t. It’s difficult to build any kind of relationship on other people’s unhappiness. Hilary’s feelings of guilt had to have a negative effect on Tom and his golf game.

Fast forward to 2009 when Hilary’s children are older and have joined Tom and her on their farm in Stilwell, Kansas, and Hilary was once again happy. Which, of course, positively affected Tom’s game. That same year, nearing his 60th birthday, Tom led the British Open much of the way before losing in a play-off. I don’t think it was a coincidence that when Hilary had her children back with her, Tom’s game improved.

Here’s a great example of how, when athletes are happy and their lives are in harmony, an unseen power seems to take over and propels them to a championship. Such was the case today watching James Hahn win the PGA Northern Trust Open in a playoff. Hahn drained a 25-footer on the final hole for a birdie. After things settled down, he was interviewed and first thing he mentioned was how happy he was that he and his wife were expecting a new baby girl in three weeks. In the LPGA, it’s not unusual to see a professional golfer take a break, have a baby, then return to the tour and immediately start winning. This is in line with the Psycho Self-Imagery theory that says when you’re happy and your life is in harmony you create positive events in your life, on and off the field of competition.

I’m a big believer that relationships in sports can have a positive or negative effect on performance. When the relationship is good, the results in competition are good. But when the relationship is bad, it can be devastating to performance.

That’s why I believe it’s no coincidence that Caroline Wozniacki experienced a three year drought on the tennis courts during her relationship with PGA golfer Rory McIlroy. According to USA TODAY the breakup came about after a phone call from McIlroy after the wedding invitations were printed…”At 25, he’s clearly playing better without her. At 24, she’s clearly playing better without him.” I wouldn’t be surprised if she won the U.S. Open.

By now almost everyone in the world of sports (especially golf) knows about the insensitive comment made by PGA Golfer Sergio Garcia regarding Tiger Woods and “fried chicken” and Garcia did the right thing by apologizing to him. Now it’s up to Tiger to bring closure to the situation by publicly accepting Garcia’s apology and moving on. If not, it could show up in his performance at the U.S. Open. It’s never good for an athlete to harbor bad feelings.

Here’s an interesting video you might like to see. PGA Golfer Sean Saunders interviewed me about how The psi Factor relates to golf. Click through the link below.


“Observations that contradict existing wisdom often lead toward, not away, from the truth.” – Anonymous

In 1960, Dr. Maxwell Maltz wrote “Psycho Cybernetics” – a runaway best seller, and in it he introduced the concept of visualization, which subsequently was embraced by universities and colleges across this nation who were offering PhDs in sport psychology. In his book, Dr. Maltz wrote of the “Theatre of the Mind” and maintained that if individuals were to visualize something in their lives, it will take place, regardless of what is happening in their personal lives.

I must not be a very persuasive person because for the past 26 years I’ve tried unsuccessfully to convince others of something that I accidentally stumbled upon. That is, if an athlete is encumbered with unresolved issues and/or problems in his or her personal life, visualization techniques are totally ineffective. And in 1987, I read something in the media that absolutely convinced me I was on the right track. It involved one of golf’s greatest visualizers, Tom Watson. Here’s what happened: Rumors were floating around about Tom Watson’s personal life during the 1987 U.S. Open Golf Tournament. After an opening round of 72, he called a press conference and announced he was not an alcoholic, he was not divorcing his wife, and he was not firing his brother-in-law as his agent. Whatever impression his declaration made on sportswriters, he cleared the issues from his head and focused on golf. The next day he shot an outstanding 65 and finished runner-up in the tournament.

I think the main reason I’ve been unable to get this fact across to the general public is because our educational institutions are teaching otherwise. At the present time, if you have a degree in sport psychology and attempt to help an athlete with his or her personal issues you could lose your license. The reason for this is that you would be entering the domain of the clinical psychologist, which is taboo since the field of psychology is very territorial. My recommendation is that when our universities and colleges award a student with a PhD in sport psychology, they should, simultaneously, require that the student also have a masters degree in counseling. This will enable the student to help athletes with their personal problems and issues without losing his or her license. But for change to come about, our universities and colleges would be required to acknowledge they have erred over the past 52 years, and I really doubt that will happen.

If you’re a golfer, here’s a video about confidence and commitment that you may want to check out. It’s been posted by my friend, Sean Saunders, a PGA Golf Pro, and it’s part of his excellent 90 Day Challenge. The link is:


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