Pavin's sports psychologist, Dr. Richard Coop, says that the key to Pavin's ability to succeed under pressure has been learning how to become "process-oriented rather than result-oriented. It's a difficult paradox—winning by not thinking about winning—but Pavin is intelligent enough, and self-aware enough, to do it."
While intelligence and self-awareness are not qualities immediately associated with Daly, the young man has won two major championships and has yet to hit 30. He must know something. As magical as was Crenshaw's victory at Augusta, nothing in 1995 was more amazing than Daly's win at St. Andrews. The supposedly undisciplined, grip-it-and-rip-it loser came to the most hallowed ground in golf for the oldest tournament in the world and exhibited patience and poise.
That victory was even more unbelievable than Daly's PGA win at Crooked Stick, because the Old Course, for all its room off the tee, requires touch and imagination and an ability to control the ball close to the ground, skills Daly supposedly lacks. What St. Andrews proved is that Daly has genius. It also proved that for all his troubles, Daly is a survivor capable of demonstrating the right stuff. If ever a player had an excuse to feel sorry for himself and wilt, it was Daly after Rocca's putt went in on the 72nd hole. Instead Daly became resolute, hit pure shots in the playoff and stepped on his opponent's neck. What's also undeniable is that Daly is a man with deep-seated problems. His play before the British Open had been spotty. Disturbingly, it got spottier after his win. Rather than build off his triumph, Daly resumed his aimless ways, which kept Wadkins from considering him as a captain's choice for the U.S. Ryder Cup team.
No player in 1995 fed off winning as voraciously as Sorenstam. The 25-year-old Swede came into the season without a victory on either the European or LPGA tours, where she was essentially splitting time. But once Sorenstam got a win in Austria, she quickly followed with another in Germany. One month later she got her first in the U.S., the Women's Open. In September, Sorenstam won the GHP Heartland Classic by 10 strokes, then two weeks later beat Laura Davies in a playoff in the World Championship of Women's Golf. When she closed her season by winning her final tournament of the year, the Australian Masters in November, Sorenstam had won six times and led both the LPGA and European tours in prize money, the first time that has ever been done.
Superstar material, Sorenstam possesses a game with no glaring weaknesses, which she executes with robotic control. And as her capacity for winning by wide margins attests, she can be a steamroller. Unlike most of women's golf's recent champions, Davies included, there seems to be no soft side to her game. Sorenstam will be the best thing to happen to Davies, who clearly will need to work harder to keep up. And that could be one of the best things to happen to the LPGA.
About the only player who rivals Sorenstam for precociousness is Woods. When the 19-year-old won his second consecutive U.S. Amateur, even the words of his father, Earl, who predicted that his son will win 14 major championships before he is through, didn't seem inappropriate.
What was so impressive about Woods at Newport was his ability to execute a victory in conditions that played to his weaknesses. Newport was a short, fast, links-style course in which power was barely a factor. Woods was forced to forfeit his vast advantage in length by gearing down to keep his ball in play. At the same time he faced several cagey veteran amateurs whose unorthodox styles and maddeningly good short games would frustrate a less experienced teenager. But Woods didn't break. In USGA championships dating back to 1992, Woods has a 35-3 record, further proof that for all his physical abilities, his greatest asset is what he has inside. With his victory Woods became the eighth player to win back-to-back Amateurs. He will go for three in a row at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in Cornelius, Ore. The year was also a record fifth straight in which Woods won a USGA title.
Finally, after so much about those who came up big in 1995, we come to a man who failed big. When Strange bogeyed the final three holes to lose his Ryder Cup match to Faldo one up, he became perhaps the most conspicuous loser in the history of the event.
Strange had been a controversial captain's pick by Wadkins because he has not won since the 1989 U.S. Open. Wadkins said that he chose Strange for his toughness, and when Strange collapsed on Sunday, it was devastating.
Strange thought he would not touch a club for weeks, but when he began to hear that many regarded him as a broken player who no longer had the spirit to compete, he not only felt the urge to play, but he also wanted to play with a vengeance.