Open: Final Notes

Jonas Blixt hit such a great flop shot with everything to win and everything to lose, that shot ended up being the subject of yesterday’s entire post, “Jonas Blixt: The $900,000 Flop Shot.”

But there were other substantive things that came out of yesterday’s final round that were worthy of highlighting, so I thought I’d clean them up today.

Blixt had some other comments that went right to the heart of the mastery issues we discuss here. For example, for those who come to a competitive round with worries about whether their swing is ready or not, don’t worry about it. Either it is or it isn’t and, counterintuitively,  it may not matter that much:

The weird part is I’ve been working on some stuff with my swing, and I wasn’t feeling completely 100% about my swing.

I just told myself, “Just give it a good hit every time and see what happens.  Just focus.  You can’t do anything better than your best.”

That’s what I did on every shot.

So once again, the pathway to freedom seems to be stepping over swing mechanics and just getting down to playing the game.

And he talked about every round is a building block to better golf. We all know that, but are you willing to put it on the line every time you play? Blixt realized that had not in the final round in Las Vegas:

You learn something every time.  Last week I didn’t play very well in the final round.  I got a little too cute with some shots and wasn’t aggressive enough.

So I told myself in the end of the day, just stay as aggressive as you can and put pressure on them.  Feels pretty good when I get on the green and am competing with someone else.  I’m pretty confident with my putter.

So that’s what I tried to do all day.

This idea of getting “a little too cute,” may seem like you’d be playing with a sense of confident panache. But what that really is is reticence to hit the shot you should be hitting. The cute shot withholds the best in you in favor of something that will look good, but is so high risk it would be an understandable miss.

Blixt only shot 3-under when there were all kinds of fireworks going on around him. Tim Petrovic shot 7-under to climb all the way up to T2, Jimmy Walker came from way down the board with his 9-under to finish T4, but both started just too far back. Monday qualifier Patrick Reed shot an 8-under to save his tournament with a T11.

One of the reasons that Blixt only shot 3-under, was that after starting birdie, birdie, he went bogey, bogey. Was he worried? Did he see that as an ominous omen?

Not too bad.  It’s just golf.  It’s just, you know, a golf club and a ball, trying to hit it into a little hole.

I try not put too much pressure and emphasis on the bad stuff.  I hit a couple bad shots there and I paid for it, but was still in it.  So just keep on doing my best and stay aggressive and we’ll see what happens.

Speaking of Petrovic and his T2 finish, boy did he need that. After a pretty decent run that began in 2002, he lost his card at the end of 2011. Still inside the Top 150, he got into just 14 events before Frys. Worse, he only made six cuts. Worse than that his biggest check was just $47,000 and his total for the year had him way down the Money List to 200th.

How do you salvage anything from that position? He didn’t have a lot of options. He’s still conditionally exempt into any tournament that hasn’t filled, but he was only 3rd alternate into next week’s McGladrey. Although he’s been a good player for quite a while, he hasn’t really built the cachet to warrant a sponsor’s exemption.

So it would be worth going with the intention of Monday qualifying and hope that there would be at least three withdrawals so that he wouldn’t have to. So maybe if he brought that kind of intensity to Sunday’s round…

I played today like I was going to have to Monday qualify next week, and I played it like the Monday qualifier.  That was kind of my mindset when I started today.  I was going to play like a one‑day shootout.

Throughout my career I’ve always done well in the Monday qualifiers I guess because I just kind of dial in, focus.  I tried to have that mentality today.  Seemed to keep me on track so I didn’t get ahead of myself.

Didn’t get ahead of himself, indeed. He was the leader in the clubhouse for about an hour or so until Blixt birdied 17 and parred 18 to lock it up. So Petrovic manages an excellent T2, earns $440,000 and shoots up to 132 on the Money List.

But better yet, the Tour rewards good play with more chances to play. So by finishing in the Top 10 this week, he’s exempt into McGladrey. Because he played furiously as if he was in a Monday qualifier, now he doesn’t have to qualify. And getting back into the Top 125 on the Money List now actually seems possible.

And speaking of Monday qualifiers, the indomitable Patrick Reed continues his string of successful Monday outings. I said back at the beginning of the month that I would be keeping my eye on him and here he is again. (We had two guys like that when I was Monday qualifying on the Champions Tour. A tip of the hat to Steve Veriato and Doug Johnson, two of the best at getting through a Monday. When they were in the field, we knew we were all playing for one less spot.)

Finally, one of the failings of the Tour’s media policies is that they tend to only interview the guys who had the best or most impactful rounds. And they tend to grant a wide birth and great deference to guys who blew it. They do it not to “embarrass” a guy who’s had a bad day. Bad enough the guy had a bad day, let’s not rub his nose in it.

But by doing that, they don’t give him or us any insight into what might have occurred from a mastery point of view, what he learned and what we could have learned.

Such was the case with John Mallinger who shot 62 Friday and then hung on Saturday to rack up a 2-shot lead. A very stylish player, he could only manage a 1-over 72 to finish T4. And he did it in a very impressive way notwithstanding the fact that he blew his lead. He had five bogeys on the front nine mitigated by two birdies. But he fought back on the the back nine with three more birdies against one bogey.

That’s the kind of never-say-die attitude that will once again see him in the heady air of being a winner on the PGA Tour.

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