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Cindy Miller's Own Your Game: How Jordan Spieth shifted his mindset

Wow! I sure hope you had the chance to witness the best shift of states I have ever seen. Sunday afternoon, in the final round of the British Open, Jordan Spieth went from protect to pursue in one hole. The trigger? I believe the putt he made for bogey on 13. He was very aware how important that was. The bogey on 13, which Spieth’s caddie, Michael Greller, called the “greatest bogey I’ve ever seen — by miles,” was the catalyst to victory.

Jordan said, “I was so confident and, all of a sudden, the wheels have kind of come off everything. And I’m thinking, ‘How do we get back on track to salvage this round and just give yourself a chance at the end?’ It took a bogey to do so.”
Thankfully Jordan is very transparent about his play, his doubts, and demons.

“Before the round, I thought ‘I have a reputation for being able to close,’” Spieth said. “But I was hesitant in saying ‘majors’ to myself, because I put a lot of pressure on myself before the round just thinking, ‘This is the best opportunity that I’ve had since the ’16 Masters, and if it weren’t to go my way today, then all I’m going to be questioned about and thought about and murmured about is in comparison to that.

“And that was really tough to swallow. And that kind of stuff goes into your head. I mean, we walk for two minutes, three minutes in between shots. And you can’t just go blank. You wish you could, but thoughts creep in. But closing (Sunday) was extremely important for the way I look at myself.’’

In golf, just as in life, we have the opportunity to learn from our mistakes. What did Jordan learn? He learned to shift states from trying to protect a lead to pursuing the win. He triggered himself to shift from holding on, to going for it. How did he do that? He was very self aware. He had been there before. He knew what the thoughts and feelings were. He knew what he wanted to do, he knew how to do it, and decided, “I am not doing this again. I am going for it. No fear. No doubt. No apprehension.”

Did he really say those things to himself? I do not know for sure, but I believe he did.

What can you learn from this? Realize that to become good at anything, it takes work. You need to invest the time, money, and resources to get better. You then need to realize that in golf, just like life, failing forward produces champions. If you can learn from your mistakes, you can move to the next step. If you look back at some of the best players in recent history, you will see that they too have learned from their mistakes.

Jason Day, Spieth, Rory McIlroy, and Ariya Jutanugarn are just a few that have blown leads, choked their guts out, and stumbled down the stretch. Once they learned how to control their thoughts, self talk, emotions, and swing, they have all become great champions and have sat as the No. 1 player in the world.

How can you learn these lessons? Become your own project.

• Become aware of you. What I do mean? Are you an introvert? Extrovert? Jordan is definitely a high D personality. (driven, competitive, extrovert). What is Matt Kuchar? A high S personality (steady, systematic, introvert). Jordan does fist pumps, Matt smiles. Knowing your personal style will help you know when to take risks, how you handle playing partners, and what you need to do to play your best.

• What is your learning style? Do you want to see it, feel it, or hear it? So much of golf is left-brained. The catch is, you cannot play with your left brain. You need to play right-brained. Knowing your personal learning style will help you create keys that you can use in competition to stay more right-brained.

• Know your swing. Can you hit the ball where you want it to go on purpose? If not, time for a lesson and range work.
• Test yourself. Put yourself in situations that make you uncomfortable. Go play in some tournaments. Scare yourself. See what happens. The more opportunity to feel the pressure, the better.

• Learn from your mistakes. Be open and honest about what is really happening. Are you afraid to win? Afraid to fail? This game exposes elephants. Be willing to see them.

The questions I have for you are: Are you willing to work at it? Are you willing to look in the mirror, see some things about yourself that might need changing? Are you willing to possibly make a fool of yourself? To try? If so, there is no telling how good you might be able to become.

I am thankful to have witnessed the resilience, tenacity, and grit of Jordan Spieth. His personal character, sportsmanship and championship spirit made it a pleasure to watch.

Cindy Miller is a former LPGA Tour Player who currently competes on the Legends Tour of the LPGA. She is a Certified Behavior, Motivation, and Judgment Professional who is sought after as a speaker, coach, and corporate trainer. Reach out to her at cindy@cindymillergolf.com

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