Some victories are obvious, often the ones where there’s a trophy involved. But some victories are oblivious. Like the one for me on the 12th tee in Denmark last Sunday. It was a tee shot that gave me nightmares last year and this year I learned my memory is very much intact. Desperate to hit 3 wood, due to the fact I’m extremely comfortable and confident hitting that club under any circumstances, on this occasion driver was the only option. There was a bunker in the middle of the fairway at 270 yards to carry and a bunker up the left at 290 to carry. The wind had been down and from the left all week meaning 3 wood was sufficient. Sunday however was different, It was into and from the left. 11 o’clock. And the breeze was fairly stiff at this point. With deep rough up the right, to my mind this was the second toughest tee shot of the day behind the dreaded 18th tee shot.
I pulled the Owl head cover off my driver pretty quickly once arriving on the tee, in an attempt to show my caddie an air of confidence. Even though inside I’m still very much aware of my miserable history on this hole. Last year I lost balls on this hole. Golf balls that is. I said to my caddie, “3 wood isn’t enough is it?” He said “no, I like driver.” I knew that. I don’t know why I asked. Driver it was. Aiming just left of the middle bunker, I committed to the same feelings I’d had all week, in the hope I didn’t get the dreaded feeling of the club falling behind me. The swing was a blur but when I looked up, after striking the middle of the club face, the ball flew perfectly down the middle. This was no Ryder Cup, and I’m no Nicolas Fasth, but a fist pump was a necessary celebration. Even in 30th position, this was a victory.
I sometimes wonder whether it’s better to have and fight the demons, than never have them at all. Helps you understand confidence eventually.
I had a new caddie last week in the very experienced Mick Dorran. Since me and Jamie split back in May, I’ve partnered up with a few different caddies. It’s be great and something I’ve found to be refreshing. I haven’t written much about why I decided to end things with Jamie, even though I’ve had some thoughts.
It’s hard to describe the relationship between player and caddie. It truly is like a marriage though. And divorce is an inevitability. In my case, the divorce came about due to a feeling of staleness and stagnation. We had been together for 4 years and we’d had some great times. Jamie has been a friend and a coach to me, and I’m still happy to see him around on Tour. But the truth was I knew my behaviour wasn’t on point due to his presence. I know myself, and I know that I behave differently around strangers. I’m more respectful. Familiarity breeds contempt and contempt is such an ugly trait. Something I never want to feel. Yet I could feel it developing with me and Jamie. I was concerned that I would act irrationally and say something I would regret, even though Jamie is smart enough to know whatever would be said would be due to the stress of competition, not my nature. Still, I didn’t want it to come to anything like that.
While my driving held me back at times earlier this year alongside some poor putting, my attitude was also to blame for some performances. I knew a change of personnel would lead to an improved attitude instantly.
It’s something I suspect Rory felt with JP. I read that Rory felt the relationship had just gone stale and he wanted to freshen things up. I believe him.
I’ve always found the best way to be disciplined is to eliminate possibilities. It’s a lazy way, but it’s a sure thing. Hence the reason so many caddies get fired most probably. Why should we work on changing our behaviour when we can improve it just by hiring and firing?
My cousin once said to me, slightly intoxicated, “give yourself the opportunity to surprise yourself.” I’ve always remembered it. I believe this is where true confidence is born. Moments like the 12th tee in Denmark for me.
I hit my best drive of the day down the 18th hole.
Confidence is a funny thing.