Ko’s Confidence the Key to Turning Pro
New Zealand golf sensation, Lydia Ko, is about to experience a whole new way of playing the game. The 16-year-old is applying to join the LPGA Tour, hoping her excellent promise as a teenager will convince the association to lift its age limit for the young star.
Despite her age, Ko won the New Zealand Open in February and now plans turn professional. However, should she get the go-ahead to compete on Tour, she will have to adapt to an entirely new ball game in the States and elsewhere.
For any young player, boy or girl, developing your game at an early age is of course crucial. The hours of practice on the local course and off the driving ranges hone your skills so you can beat your age group.
Ko, of course, is no different but as anyone who enjoys betting and has played to a decent standard will tell you, that the jump from amateur to professional is enormous. Suddenly, you have to balance pressure, scheduling and media responsibilities with your golf. You have less time to perfect your swing and more chances of failure of difficult courses.
Adaptation is key if Ko is to simply bed in on the LPGA Tour. She needs a good coach, which she has, and thankfully already has experience winning at a professional level.
She must take that confidence from the New Zealand Open and display it with full pride on an LPGA Tour that is flourishing right now. The competition is fierce but Ko has proven capable of handling that pressure when an unknown, so it will be interesting to see how she does as a professional.
Don’t expect too much from her – members of the golf betting world would advise you to back other players right now – but Ko is certainly one for the future. Let’s just see how she copes with the step up first.
Watch the tee-shot pros this PGA Tour Championship
Developing a steadfast mental game is very difficult in golf, a sport that offers you too much time to think when something goes wrong. Many rounds are ruined from one bad hole, not because your score jumps too high but because you carry the frustrations of it into the next five or six.
Learning how to forget what’s just happened and focus on what is coming up is therefore a vital skill if you’re ever to improve your game. Fans who bet on golf saw this at the Open last season as Adam Scott, leading by four shots on the Sunday, got into a mental spiral and lost all control over his game.
Scott learned from that mistake at the Masters this year, winning the tournament on a playoff with Miguel Cabrera. Scott’s final round was near perfect on day four, sinking birdies at the 13th, 15th and last hole. However, he would never have competed for the lead had he not immediately reversed a bogey on hole one that day.
Whereas in previous majors Scott would have crumbled under the pressure of that bogey, this time he pared and then birdied to get his game back on track.
The key for Scott is his tee shots, for a good opening swing and you forget what happened at the previous green. It’s exactly what Brandt Snedeker did when he bogeyed at the Tour Championship sixth last season and how Phil Mickelson buried his head in the sand to win the Open this summer.
Golf betting punters know tee shots are vitally important and, like a serve in tennis, you must go through a routine. Rafael Nadal does the same step-for-step arrangement for his serve whatever happened in the previous point. Golfers must do the same at the tee, for you get into a rhythm that offers security and reliability in your swing.
When practising tees consider your approach, what pocket you tee is in, how you place the tee in the ground, the angle of your hat – anything that sets you up as comfortable as possible. Then, do it over and over again until you feel perfect. Once you know you’re prepared you’ll have confidence in your swing and that is the best antidote to forgetting the previous hole.
Tough Dufner Learns from 2011
Jason Dufner’s victory in the US PGA Championship owes plenty to the likeable American’s natural talent, but it should also be noted how important a role his mental toughness played as he learned from his 2011 capitulation to hold on to his lead on the crucial final day at Oak Hill.
Dufner has plenty of admirers, both from fans and golf betting pundits, and, despite his unconventional swing approach and inconsistency, he remains a top player on his day, capable of competing with the very best.
And he showed it brilliantly on Sunday as he held off the inevitable nerves that come with leading for most of the day in the final stretch of a major, laying the ghosts of a couple of years ago in this very tournament to rest along the way.
Dufner had spoken about how he hoped the experience of blowing a five-shot lead over the last four holes to close friend and rival, Keegan Bradley, in 2011 would stand him in good stead this year – and so it proved as he eventually went on to claim a two-shot victory over Jim Furyk this time around.
The day was not without its hairy moments for people who bet on golf, especially when Dufner bogeyed the 17th and 18th, but thankfully for the golfer, so did Furyk and it was always his title to lose.
The fact there was no repeat of the drama of a couple of years ago speaks volumes about how he has learned to cope with the pressure. Dufner’s development once again underlines the fact that, if you want to win the big trophies, then mental toughness is something you must carry in your bag, along with the best birdie-securing shots when the stakes are so high.
The Ryder Cup star admitted afterwards that he had to pinch himself but clearly hopes the memory of that awful late failure at Atlanta can now finally be erased.
“I can’t believe this is happening to me. To come back from a couple of years ago when I lost in a play-off feels really really good,” he said. “I decided that I was going to be confident and put my best foot forward and play aggressive to try to win this thing.”
Most top golfers, of course, are mentally strong and Dufner has demonstrated he now has the mindset to win the big tournaments; he has also proved he can learn from his mistakes and not get caught short during the drama of a final day at a major. Surely now he can only go from strength to strength.
Rose win boosts Poulter’s belief
Justin Rose’s recent win has boosted Ian Poulter’s belief in himself. Ian Poulter has admitted he is hoping Justin Rose’s US Open victory at Merion will be added motivation to him when it comes to improving his own game and challenging for the major titles. Rose became England’s first major winner since 1996 when he claimed a one-shot victory to clinch this year’s US Open crown. Luckily for all the fans who bet on golf, Rose finally ended England’s long wait for a winner at a major.
It has been the mental side of the game that has shown Poulter at his very best and very worst. While Poulter has carved out a groove as one of Europe’s most successful Ryder Cup players, on at least two occasions almost single-handily leading the team to victory from the brink of defeat, he is still yet to win that elusive major title that he has been so focused on winning since joining the European Tour in 2000.
His performances in Ryder Cups show that, if anything, Poulter takes his game to the next level when the pressure is on him to step up and perform in that event, but the ability to produce the same immovable focus he gets during the Ryder Cup into his form throughout a full week at a major still eludes him.
Poulter, however, believes seeing his close friend win the US Open this year has shown him that it is more than possible for him to win a major title.
“Justin’s win does a number of things. One, it’s obviously nice to see your friend do it but it gives you a kick up the backside as well. You see him do it, you want to do it as well,” admitted the 37-year old.
“The question was asked for years and years and years, ‘when is one of your guys finally going to break through?’ and I’m hoping Justin’s win at the US Open, one, stops that question and, two, opens the door for the other guys to come through and show the hard work we’ve put in over the last decade can really pay off and back up the victories that Faldo had all those years ago.”
For the latest sports betting previews, visit Bet365 website.
Mindfulness is consciously bringing awareness to your here-and-now experience. Paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally. So what does this have to do with golf I hear you ask? And how can I learn to play mindful golf?
Golfers have a tendency to be very caught up in either the past or the future. For example, Past; “Damn – why did I just hit that shot, I knew it was the wrong club to use, man what an idiot!” Future; “If I sink this putt that will be a birdie and that will give me the best round I’ve had in ages!”
And the problem with past and future thinking is you lose the ability to be present. Your mind is tied up in very judgmental thoughts and these judgemental thoughts can cause your brain to go into a ‘threat state’ and prepare your body for ‘fight or flight’. Certainly not the relaxed state you need to be in to hit with flow and feel.
Mindful golfers focus on what is happening rather that what just happened. Their minds are calm they are in the present, right here right now with no attachment to the past or future. They play golf in the present, knowing that this moment right now is the only one available
How to Become a Mindful Golfer
Where is your mind in the few seconds it takes to swing a club? What tapes do you play in your head? How do you become mindful when all you can think about is that last bad shot?
Breathing is one of the easiest ways to become more mindful when you are standing over your ball. Do not linger over your ball once you have addressed it, this will only cause your judging mind to start it’s commentary. Instead, after you have visualised your target and are now looking at the ball take one breath in to the count of 3 and then exhale to the count of 3 then immediately hit. Do actually count in your head, as this uses the same part of your brain used in worrying. It is hard to do both simultaneously