This weekend I played in a Mens Open event that is based on match play. I love watching and playing in match play events. In this format you are placed in a foursome and are assigned one player that you will play against for the front 9. Winners of the two matches playoff on the back nine and the match losers playoff on the back nine also.
Going into the event I was playing solid. Warming up for the day I was hitting crisp and soft landing pitches. Hitting a soft fade with the irons and driver. I was feeling pretty good about myself on the first tee. Set up for a small fade for my tee shot and my normal draw was the result which place me in the trees. I was not upset with myself and took my medicine and lost the hole.
One thought I always have going into match play is to assume that when you are on the green your opponent will make each shot. Does not matter if the putt is 3 feet or 60 feet. I find it keeps my nerves in check and my emotions stay on an even keel. On the second hole I was in for a par and my opponent had a 10 foot putt for par that he made.
The third hole my opponent hit a fairway bunker and had to lay off on a shorter length par 5. I hit in the left rough but had the opportunity to hit the green in two. However I had to hit a shot I have not practiced in years. But I decided to hit the shot anyways. I executed the shot to perfection if I was attempted to hit an over the top smoother pull rather than the high draw I envisioned. Mental mistake #1. So rather than being around the green in two I was chipping out of a nasty lie in the trees. Letting my opponent get up and down for par and win the hole.
The fourth hole is a 415 yard par 4. We all hit solid drives. My opponent skulled his second shot and the ball ran through the green and ended up on the back fringe. My punched wedge hit a ridge about 30 feet short of the pin and stopped dead. My opponent putted up and left his putt 10 feet short. We were playing on greens that were recently aerated. To keep the ball from bouncing off line they needed to have an aggressive speed. My first putt ran by the hole and hit a little down sloped and ended up 15 feet past the hole. Fortunately for me we both missed out par putts. I felt this was another mental mistake as I was not aware of what the green was like behind the hole when assessing my first putt. Instead of winning the hole I felt I let my opponent off the hook.
Two mental mistakes in two holes cost me a loss of one hole and a possible win on another. Played solid for the next two hole but lost the 6th hole to a good birdie. Standing on the 7th tee I was down 3 with three to play. Lucky for me my opponent had a mental lapse of this hole letting me extend to match. He must of been upset with himself on the eighth hole because he smoother hooked a drive into deep grass in the left rough. This allowed me to make a conservative par to win the hole. Now I was one down with one to play.
The ninth hole is a par 5. We both had to lay up after our drives. I played my lay up to give my self a good angle to the green. I visualized the shot I wanted to hit. Confidently set up to the ball, took my stance, started my back swing and changed my mind at the top of the swing. Resulting in a shot very similar to my second shot of the 3rd hole. A low smoothed pull hook that missed the green short and left. Leaving a delicate pitch over a bunker with very little room to the pin sitting on a downhill slope. My opponent played his shot thirty feet away from the pin and two putted for a 2 up win.
I lost the first hole from a bad swing but this did not upset me as much and losing the holes in which I made the mental errors. When putting if I miss a putt that I made a good stroke, the ball rolled along the line I envisioned and had good speed this does not bother me. I would rather miss a putt I executed well then be lucky and make a putt that I misplayed. I would rather make a bad score on a hole if I had a good mental mind frame and had a swing error rather than the high score be a result of a mental error. I find swing errors can be fixed easier than mental errors especially when it comes to golfers.