First things first; Congratulations to Jordan Spieth on a tremendous win at the U.S. Open! He did an amazing job at playing his own game to the best of his ability each and every day. Hats off to an amazing display of staying the course. And what a course it was!
The phrase, “It was a grind” was an understatement for this year’s major. There were comments flying from everyone, on air and off, regarding the conditions of the course, the layout, design and of course the greens. It was, according to some, a tricked out links style course, a ridiculous choice for a major, a place where no one would want to return…the list went on and on and on. The chatter was so prevalent that it prompted a comment from Jack Nicklaus, who said something to the effect of how he loved to hear other players complain about a course as he figured for everyone who did, it was one less guy he’d have to beat that week.
I’m sure we’ll be hearing about it for quite some time as the dust settles post event and more people weigh in. In the end however, someone was going to take home the trophy regardless of layout, green condition, wind direction, good bounces, bad bounces and misread putts. Someone was going to be the winner and that winner, was Jordan Spieth.
Any USGA event is known to be an absolute test of skill and mental fortitude. The United States Open Championship is the penultimate test. In fact, if you’re not someone who is exempt from qualifying, you’ll have to survive qualifying at a site that is set up under the direction of the USGA; where the rough is difficult, the length is long and greens are fast. All of which is a mere glimpse of what to expect if you move on to the Championship.
Jordan Spieth didn’t complain about the course or its condition, he accepted it for what it was and he just played his very best. He put on an excellent display, not only of his ability to execute shot after shot, but his ability to stay present. He knew that if you were focused on the things you couldn’t control, such as the course, the conditions, the layout etc., your mental energy would be elsewhere.
To win at an Open, the golfer has to play to the best of his/her ability, accept what the golf course presents and play in as “present” a state as possible. There is no going back on shots of the past and shots that could have been. They are absolutely over and if you are playing in the present, you are on to the shot at hand, focused on what you want to do and how you want to execute. Jordan had a mindset that allowed him to do just that. It was never more evident during the final round. He birdied the par 4 16th hole then arrived at the par 3 17th with a 6 iron and proceeded to block it right missing the green. He finishing the hole with a double bogey. This could have easily derailed him but he stayed present. There was nothing he could do about the par 3, it was over. He had to move on to his next shot which he did, along with each shot thereafter. He stayed the course, his course and was clearly as present as ever during each and every shot during the final hole.
If there is a takeaway from Jordan Spieth’s win, it’s that the mental side of the game is critical to every player’s success. It’s not about hitting that perfect shot, not when you are playing. It’s about playing at your best, whatever that means for you at that moment in time and being absolutely present during each and every shot. There is no past or future when you’re out there trying to put up a good score, there is just the now. So next time you go out to play, do your best to take it one shot at a time and focus on that one shot, it’s the only one that matters at that very moment.