Mind Over Sports

Posts Tagged ‘Phil Mickelson

Even though golf great Phil Mickelson lost his bid to become the first male golfer in 437 major championships to shoot that mythical score of 62 when his 16-foot birdie putt didn’t fall on the 18th hole at Royal Troon in the British Open, he still shot a fantastic 63!
One has to wonder what might be going on in Mickelson’s personal life that helped his mental game. When athletes are happy and their lives are in harmony they perform close to their skill levels on a consistent basis. When they’re not happy and their lives are not in harmony, they don’t. So Mickelson must have been mighty happy when he shot that sixty-three. Perhaps he received some good news about his legal problems.

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What takes place away from the golf course affects what takes place on the golf course.  Two good examples are Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods.  In the case of Mickelson, he’s being investigated by the federal government for alleged insider trading in the stock market and if found guilty could serve time in prison.  But even worse, the stress he’s experiencing could already be affecting his health since it was reported that he is “battling the lingering effects of strep throat” and a case of strep throat could easily be an advance indication of something more serious, such as cancer. The R.A. Bloch Cancer Support Center in Kansas City, Missouri, has conducted past research that indicates that stress produces hormones in a person’s body that impairs their immune system, and cancer cells in their body begin to multiply at a rate faster than their immune system can devour them. (This is called the Surveillance Mechanism Theory that was discovered by the late Dr. Carl Simonton.)  Note: Since writing this entry, Mickelson’s game has improved considerably so it’s possible (and I’m only saying possible) that he received good news from his attorneys assuring him that he would not serve any time in jail.  But this is only conjecture on my part.

In the case of Tiger Woods, his problems aren’t nearly as severe since, according to press reports, he is battling an ex-wife who is reportedly insanely jealous of his relationship with Olympic Skier Lindsey Vonn and she could be using his children to get back at him.  In divorce cases, when there is on-going anger and jealousy, the children are often used as pawns.  Tiger has two choices:  He can file with the courts to gain sole custody of his children (something that is unlikely to happen) or he will have to wait until his children are old enough to express their desire, to a judge, that they want to live with their father.  That could take quite some time since the children have to be of a specific age, which was the case with Tom Watson when he remarried.  Watson married a woman, also named Watson (who was the wife of another PGA golfer) who had abandoned her two young children to marry him.  Her unhappiness weighed heavily on their marriage.  After a number of years of mediocre golf (for him) the children finally reached the age where they could decide which parent they wanted to live with and his wife was awarded custody.  I assume her children are now living with them which would explain his improved performance.

I’ve always said that what takes place away from the golf course affects what takes place on the golf course. An extreme example is the current situation involving Phil Mickelson and his being accused of “insider trading.” If convicted, Mickelson could go to prison. It is the first time since 2003 that he has gone this far into a P.G.A Tour season without a victory. And last week he instructed F.B.I. agents to “speak to my lawyers.” I also believe that what goes around comes around. There have always been rumors about Mickelson’s arrogance, especially when interacting with his fellow P.G.A. touring partners. It was said that he treated everyone around him badly and had few if any close friends. If true, that would certainly account for what’s happening in his life today. And it should be a good lesson to anyone reading this column. Always treat others the way you yourself would like to be treated.

I checked the internet on this and found that yes, indeed, PGA golfers are allowed to check their incoming e-mails and, according to Carter Rich, equipment standards manager for the USGA: “It’s fine to call your family and let them know you’ll be late for dinner. But calling your coach for swing tips is of course not permitted under the Rules of Golf.” So if you’re Tiger Woods and you get a nasty incoming call from your ex-wife, even if you don’t answer it, the mere fact she is calling you can negatively affect your focus. But it can also have the opposite effect. If you’re Phil Mickelson and you get an e-mail or incoming call from your loving wife, Amy, telling you she’s preparing (metaphorically speaking) a huge delicious steak for dinner, and you love steak, that could have a positive effect. So my suggestion is: Ban all cell phones and I-phones on the course during the PGA tour, and this would apply to the fans as well as the players. Distracting phones have no place on the golf course during competition.  And they definitely shouldn’t be used to enhance performance.

I’m sure the golf pundits will be having a field day with this question, but I’m equally certain it’s because of one of two reasons. Or both.

First, as far as I know, Tiger has not brought about closure to his confrontation with Sergio Garcia. As I’ve often stated, when you are angry you give away your power. Tiger needs to arrange a public meeting with Sergio, have him apologize, and then Tiger can gracefully accept his apology and forgive him. And move on.

The second reason, and could very well have happened the night before his final round, he may have received a nasty phone call from his ex-wife threatening that he will not be able to see his children during normal visiting hours as authorized by the court. As any man (or woman) will tell you, when you get a divorce and there are children involved, the divorce doesn’t end your relationship with your ex, it only transforms it. And my understanding is that Tiger’s ex-wife is not very fond of his significant other, Lindsey Vonn.

So there you have it, and when you combine the above with the fact that Phil Mickelson is enjoying a happy family life (which I assume is true) then good things happen. What takes place away from the golf course affects what takes place on the golf course. Maybe Amy, Phil’s wife, told him the night before the final round that she was pregnant with their fourth child and 43-year old Phil was going to be a papa again? Of course, his being forty-three that could have had the opposite effect ☺

For those of you who follow my column know that I believe there’s a relationship between an athlete’s feelings of self-worth (self-esteem) and performance. Regarding the US Open, it’s my opinion that Phil Mickelson’s trip to attend his daughter’s eighth-grade graduation enhanced his own feelings of self-worth and his game. Athletes who are happy and whose lives are in harmony perform close to their skill levels on a consistent basis. Women in the LPGA who take a break and have a baby often return to the tour and start winning tournaments.

On the negative side, as soon as Tiger Woods publicly accepts Sergio’s apology and gives vent to his anger his game will kick in. When athletes are angry, they give away their power. I’m surprised Lindsey Vonn, Tiger’s significant other (who has a strikingly similar appearance to two of Tiger’s past significant others – all statuesque blonds who were highly intelligent – one of whom he married) does not kick some sense into his head and encourage him to resolve his issue with Sergio. He had a chance, when they shook hands, but said not a word. By accepting Sergio’s apology he would be doing it for himself, not Sergio.


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