What we can learn from Sergio Garcia

In the opening scene of the movie, White Men Can’t Jump, Woody Harrelson, states before each shot, “No way I make this shot.”Well, of course, he makes every one.  Sergio Garcia’s “ I’m not capable of winning a major” comments at The Masters may be the same:reverse psychology.

Homer’s Brain: Don’t you get it? You’ve gotta use reverse psychology.

Homer: That sounds too complicated.

Homer’s Brain: OK, don’t use reverse psychology.

Homer: All right, I will!

The way Sergio will free up his game and mind is by being brutally honest. What better way to remove all of the talk about “winning a major” by announcing that you won’t?

Here are the aspects we can learn from Sergio Garcia. (Each italicized segment is the take home message for our own journey).

Sergio Garcia has always had the game: 22 professional wins, 7 wins on the PGA Tour, nine top five’s in majors, capped by winning The Players Championship in 2008 and overall ranking of #2 in the world.

He has consistently been one of the best ball-strikers on Tour. The only hindrance “performance-wise” has been his putting.Recently, Sergio seemed “on-track,” winning back-to-back European tour events (Castelló Masters & Andalucía Masters) in the fall of 2011. In 2012, he admitted that his attitude had changed toward the better and game-wise.

  • For us, we should focus on our successes  in our sport, no matter how small.

However, he has also had some demons: He has struggled mightily with his emotions and behaviors, as well as close loses at the 2007 Open Championship at Carnoustie and the 2008 PGA championship at Oakland Hills.  More so, is that he has had to carry the expectations of being compared to both Tiger and being the next Seve Ballesteros.  Add the fact, that he has often been a beacon for the media fodder, akin to the late Ted Williams.

  • We have to recognize our own shortcomings. This is very, very difficult to do, but crucial for improvement.

Sergio Garcia plays better when the focus is not on him:Research by Sorrentino and Sheppard (1978) examined swimmers’ personalities that either sought out acceptance or avoided rejection. Their research of collegiate swimmers showed that those who sought approval were better swimmers on relay teams and those who avoided rejection swam faster by themselves. 57

The Ryder Cup is all about the team and not an individual player. Prior to the 2008 Ryder Cup, Sergio Garcia had previously won fifteen points out of a possible twenty. He was unbeaten in eight foursome matches and stood at 5-1-2 in fourball. His only blemish was that he lost three out of four singles matches in Ryder Cup play.

In 2008, Sergio Garcia was thrust from merely being a team player to being a central “leader” (outside of the vacuum), which was absent of both Darren Clarke and Colin Montgomery, who had been leaders and staples of past victorious teams. Thus, Sergio was thrust into an uncomfortable de facto leadership role. Sergio quite frankly stated “I’m not going to kick out my chest and say I’m the leader of this team, no” 59 The 2008 Ryder Cup was his worse performance to date, as he went 0-2-2, magnified by his embarrassing 5&4 loss to the younger Anthony Kim (who is an interesting case as well), which took Sergio’s lifetime single record to 1-4. He did not play on the 2010 team.

  • We accomplish this by committing to improvement; each and every practice. Focus on the aspects we can control, and continually be a good teammate.

Sergio Garcia plays better with no expectations. There are two types of player mentalities: 1) If you tell someone they can’t do something, they will actually do it. 2) The other mentality is that they will agree with you. Can someone admit that they can’t win a major and actually do it? I think Sergio was telling the truth and some work needs to be made on his confidence, however, I also believe it helps remove some of the expectations.

  • Remove all expectations from our play and focus on the most important play, the next play.

“Winning a major is like laughing, you can’t force it.”

Note: Thanks to Mike Jenkins at @ifulikegolf andwww.ifyoulikegolf.com

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Dr. Rob Bell

Ahoy! I'm Dr. Rob Bell. Your Mental Toughness coach. Be The BEST at Getting BETTER. Will your Hinge connect?
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