Whoever wins today’s Masters Tournament, will undoubtedly have the following mental traits. The Masters is arguably the tournament that tests a player’s mental game of golf more than any other. All the players in the field have the technical skills to win, but the mental game is what will separate today’s winner.
1. Resilience and Attitude
Today’s champion will have mental toughness in abundance. They’ll be able to overcome adversity and regroup, deal with bad breaks, bad swings, and possibly, double bogeys. It will be tough to do, but being able to accept that things are exactly how they should be at that particular moment (and not regretting the past) will be key. A winner’s attitude (think Jordan Spieth) of “never giving up” and “anything is possible” is something that the champion will certainly have. You will need to work on this too if you are to succeed.
2. Incredible Self belief
In his first year on Tour, Justin Rose missed every cut. Instead of retreating and disappearing from the game, he kept believing in himself to succeed (and now he’s a major and Olympic champion). Self Belief, isn’t something you’re born with. Using mental game of golf training techniques such as visualization, self-talk, goal setting and continuous positive reinforcement all contribute.
3. The Ability to Stay Present and Patient
If you’ve listened to any of the post-round interviews throughout the tournament, you’ll have heard several players talk about “staying present” and “not getting ahead of myself”. Justin Rose said last night, that he’s not thinking about winning, just about staying in his process. This will be key today as the round progresses. We saw it with Rory a few years back and Jordan last year. Anything can happen in this tournament and it’s not over till it’s over. Unless you keep your focus until the last putt is rolled in on 18, it’s easy to make mistakes. When a player starts getting into the future and thinking about the prospect of putting on that green jacket this evening, nervous energy can increase and cause the player to lose focus, resulting in poor decisions and bad swings. Once of the caddie’s jobs today will be keeping the player present and calm, so they can give every shot their best.
4. Be able to think clearly in the pressure moments
All the players on the leaderboard are experienced at playing golf under pressure. However, this is on another level. The guy who puts on the green jacket this evening, will be very in tune with how they are feeling throughout the round, and be able to use the proper techniques to calm nerves, slow everything down and stay focused, instead of getting tense and rushing. This means they are self aware enough to know what’s happening mentally and physically throughout the round.
5. Good imagination and creativity
A course like Augusta requires every shot in the bag. The elevation changes, slopes on the fairways and undulations on the greens, means the winner will be skilled in playing shots from uneven lies and have an amazing sense visualization, creativity and commitment to shots. Jordan Speith says: “Ultimately, I think it comes down to imagination. You’re never hitting off a flat lie unless it’s a tee shot. Every other shot is significantly above your feet, downslope, below your feet or whatever, and you’ve got to adapt to it.” (Source “Short Game Creativity is Key To Solving Augusta“)
6. A Clear Strategy
Most of the field will have a strategy for playing the course successfully today. Obviously they’ll need to improvise at times, but sticking to a plan and not deviating from that strategy unless they have to will be key. All the winners of The Masters have played the par 5’s well.
7. An Incredible work ethic and determination
To develop the mental game of golf and physical skills needed to win The Masters, requires a huge amount of practice and dedication, which comes from determination and motivation. It’s hard for a rookie to win at Augusta. Although they might have the technical skills, a level of mental maturity is required. Gaining experience in competition and learning with every round is something that you must do to be able to feel more comfortable in the big moments.
Who will become The 2017 Masters Champion today?
My mind tells me Justin Rose, but my heart would love to see Sergio do it.