The Secret Is In The Dirt

Having stayed up absorbed by a compelling final round from Augusta, I was obviously a little disappointed for my man, Lee Westwood. Yet it was clear that Mickelson played a blinder. His outrageous shot to within a few feet from the trees at the 13th will go down as legendary (even though he missed the easy birdie putt to prove we’re all human!).

I was intrigued at the post-match reviews. Westwood handled himself with dignity. He showed an inner resolve to knuckle down in pursuit of his first major. A Telegraph summary belied some telling mentality for sales people perhaps frustrated that their own efforts to move to the next level appear stalled. Here’s a couple of winning insights:

Westwood said: “Phil was saying in the scoring hut that he’d been that man knocking on the door and you wonder and suddenly it happens and then winning majors becomes easier in your own mind.”

“I’ve just got to keep doing the things I’m doing. I think my short game can still improve, even though it’s a lot, lot better. It was a master class from Phil out there around the greens. That’s the sort of standard you’ve got to be up to.”

The general gist was that when in a recurrent runner-up rut, go away, increase your workload and work that little bit harder. It is the antithesis of the lazy pursuit of genius. The Ben Hogan quote (“the secret is in the dirt“) is all about spending interminable hours on the practice range, with echoes of Gary Player’s most famous of sport quotes, “the more I practice, the luckier I get“.

What a contrast to the main hype man of the event. I watched Woods’ interviews as he walked off the 18th in amazement. It was an abject lesson in how to alienate. I was busy screaming at the screen as to how objectionable this once peerless golfer had become. I wasn’t surprised that many other observers shared my pain (here’s one at random for instance).

It was all about him. Others won only because he made mistakes. Errors of shot selection, concentration, mis-reads, swing control. Unlike most participants, Woods clearly is touched by genius, but his route back will take much more than the practice commitment say a Westwood needs. The restricting demons in his head he unexpectedly offered the world in those comments he would surely regret showing if he had the capacity to and reveal much about what it takes to stay number one, in stark contrast to what it takes to get there in the first place.

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