You have a choice when the going gets tough: You can act like Captain Teflon and forge ahead with a positive attitude, or you can think, Woe is me, and self-destruct. Retief Goosen waltzed to a four-shot victory at the BellSouth Classic because he chose the former. Goosen lost his third-round lead to Phil Mickelson on Sunday by bogeying the 1st hole and double-bogeying the 2nd, where he left a simple bunker shot in the sand (above). He also needed two shots to escape a greenside bunker at 13. However, in each instance Goosen avoided calamity by staying in the moment and bouncing right back. He striped a drive at the 3rd hole and made par, and then regained the lead from Mickelson by chipping in for an eagle at the par-5 4th. At 13, a short par-4 on which he had nearly driven the green, Goosen saved par by stiffing his second bunker shot.
MIND OVER MATTER
Patty Berg made me aware of the importance of training the mind as well as the body at the first LPGA Teaching and Club Pro Championship, in 1983. At the practice area, Berg called a bunch of us sweaty range rats over and asked, "How many of you think golf is 95 percent physical?" Nobody raised her hand. Then Berg asked, "How many think it's 95 percent mental?" Everybody's hand shot up. Berg smiled coyly and said, "Then why the heck are you out here beating balls?"
Goosen's mental approach is so bulletproof I think he'll win another couple of majors in the years to come. Despite bogeying 16 and 18 at the TPC at Sugarloaf to close his round on Saturday, he only hit a handful of balls afterward. "I know how to get myself around a course even when I'm not 100 percent with the swing," he said. I love that kind of peace of mind. Goosen knew that his swing mechanics were sound, but his timing was off, so he wasn't silly enough to try to fix something that wasn't broken with a marathon practice session. Also, he was putting so well that he was confident he could overcome any challenges he might encounter from tee to green.
It was painful watching Monday qualifier Zach Johnson walk off the par-5 18th hole with a four-putt bogey moments after he singed the cup with a 55-foot eagle try. A mere birdie would've catapulted Johnson, a 26-year-old Hooters tour regular playing in his second PGA Tour event, into eighth place and earned him a spot in next week's Greater Greensboro Chrysler Classic. But I think Johnson, who slipped to 17th, will be back on Tour soon—as a regular member—because he has such a healthy perspective. Instead of wallowing in the what-coulda-beens on Sunday evening, he was positively cheerful. "I always thought I could play out here, and now I know I can," Johnson said, sounding very much like Retief Goosen.