Well, the competition is ended for 2010. First, I want to say thank you for following my “Journey to the Worlds.” Judging by all the comments and emails it has been entertaining. I really appreciate your support and encouragement. It means the world to me!
Here’s how things went.
My qualifying rounds were on Monday. Things started out great. I won my first bracket with a 368 yard drive and advanced to the second round. I was doing great until my 4th ball, when I felt something give in my left shoulder. I got my left arm extended a bit to far on the follow through and it hurt like the dickens.
I wound up tied for the 4th position and had to go into a 3-ball playoff against Johann Tumba from South Africa – last year’s Senior division runner-up. I came up short in the playoff, as I found myself more focused on what was happening to my shoulder than on hitting the ball. That put me in the loser’s brackets, which is a very tough road to travel (this is a double-elimination tournament).
I made some adjustments and managed to get through the 4th round and advance. But I could tell I wasn’t hitting my best. My body was protecting my shoulder by not letting me extend through impact. By the time I got to the 6th round I just didn’t have anything left in the shoulder. I didn’t make it through that round, and that ended my tournament. In my last set I was only able to dink one 312 yards.
Here are my thoughts and post-tournament wrap-up.
It’s hard to compete without being healthy. I knew that going in, but I should have tried to find a way to concentrate on something other than my shoulder during the playoff and subsequent rounds. That’s one of the contingencies I simply didn’t plan for and practice leading up to the competition.
In hindsight I should have figured out a plan for what to do if my shoulder started hurting. As I’ve mentioned in other posts it’s too hard to try to develop a strategy when you are real-time. That’s what contingency practice is for – so you don’t have to try to think up and evaluate strategies in the moment. You figure out everything that could go wrong during the competition and you plan and practice contingencies well before the tournament, so you know what to do when they happen. So I could have prepared better. I’m not sure I could have performed better in the later rounds, but a big part of success is putting yourself in the best position to succeed, and I could have done a better job with that.
But there were things I did well.
My first round was awesome, and I wanted to pass along a little tip that you may find useful. Let me set the background.
There’s always a bit of nervousness when you step up to your first shot. It’s like stepping up to hit that drive on the first tee. As I was waiting for the announcer to give us the all-clear I was reflecting on an article written many years ago by tennis great Martina Navratilova. The title of the article was “Learning to Love the Battle.”
In the article she described how she got nervous before her matches – even though she was the number one player in the world! She came to realize that the nervousness meant she was “up” for the competition, and over time she began to look forward to that bit of edgy nervousness. She realized that there was always a bit of risk every time she stepped out on the court, but it actually heightened the experience of the moment, and pushing through it reinforced her confidence.
I certainly had that “edgy nervousness” standing on the tee for my first set. But as the announcer gave us the signal and I approached the ball I was thinking to myself “This is IT. This is the battle. And I LOVE it!”
And I actually SMILED as I stood over the ball.
It made me feel GREAT! And I absolutely striped the first ball right down the middle. It was awesome. Probably the best moment I’ll take away from the competition, because I know I’ll use it again in the future.
So here’s something for you to try the next time you are nervous on the first tee. Smile. Tell yourself that why you are there. Learn to love the battle.
There were many other great moments during the week. I had the honor of attending the first ever “Past Champions” dinner. The military long drive was terrific as always. Catching up with old friends was great too. I got a chance to hit balls on the practice range with a few of the best long drivers ever, including Jamie Sadlowski, Bobby Wilson, and David Mobley. They were kind enough to give me a brief interview. Mobley of course couldn’t resist getting in front of the camera a second time. But check out the hip speed of Jamie Sadlowski. This kid is only 5′ 10″ and 175 lbs. But his club speed is nearly 150 mph and he hits it over 400 yards! He’s living proof that you don’t have to be a giant to hit the ball a long way.
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