By all that’s right and conventional, this post should be about Webb Simpson’s glorious 8-under 63 to take a four-stroke lead at the Shriners Hospitals For Children Open in Las Vegas. He bested his 64 from Thursday and suddenly finds himself king of the mountain:
I hit a couple loose shots today but just really managed to make putts and take advantage of the holes that you’ve got to make birdie on. The course is set up good again, some tough pins, and we stayed away from the trouble. But thankful to shoot another good one.
It’s interesting to see just how refined the sensory perceptions of the players are. He shoots 63 — that’s nine birdies and one bogey — and still judges a couple of shots to be “loose.” Geez, how loose could they have been? He hit 15 greens.
And “managed to make putts” was an understatement. His Strokes Gained – Putting was an incredible 4.999. Although, when J.J. Henry shot his 60 Thursday, his SG-P was a stunning 6.243. In shooting even par on Friday, it fell to -1.441 which brings me to the most interesting topic of the day.
Andres Romero also had a great day Thursday, shooting 61 and positioning himself in solo 2nd. But his comeback round on Friday was abysmal, shooting a 10-over 81. And worse, he missed the cut by three shots.
Reading the transcripts from both days is very revealing. Here is Thursday’s joyous exposition:
Q. [You beat your low round] by three shots, and you’re somehow one off the lead. It’s kind of a funny day out there, but a spectacular round.
Well, after New York [The Barclays], I didn’t play any tournament, and I was practicing a lot and working on my game. And I was feeling very good this week. My swing is there. I was hitting the ball well, and I had a really good round today.
I thought I was going to finish leader, but Henry did one more birdie. But I’m feeling good.
Q. You seemed very loose out there. You seemed very comfortable. At some point after 15 did you start thinking about what you could possibly shoot, even a lower number?
Not really. I was focused on my game and I was trying to do my job, and that’s all. I feel very good and focused on the game and every shot. So I wasn’t paying attention to the leaderboard and the other guys.
Q. What do you take from this round into tomorrow?
Everything. (Laughs). Tomorrow it’s a different day, but I will try to do the same thing.
And yes, frequent visitors, there it is. The fatal flaw I have mentioned many times on the difficulty of backing up a really low round. Something like that happens for you, what’s your initial inclination? Do do the same thing you did as the day before.
But the problem isn’t that he was unable to match what he did from the previous day. It was that what he thought he was doing might not have been the thing that made him so successful. It might have been something that he was completely unconscious to in his swing.
So when he came back for seconds on Friday, he spent the day trying to replicate something that may not have been responsible for his success at all. The swing is an amorphous collection and many motions and feelings. Which one was it?
And here is Friday’s chance to discover a little about greatness gone missing:
Q. You were even through five holes, and then talk about what happened after that.
Well, I started to hit the ball bad. The 1st and 2nd hole I was not feeling very good. I thought my swing wasn’t there, and after the second shot on 15, I found the water, and then from there I had troubles all the time. I tried to do my best, but my swing wasn’t there.
Q. Was there something physically wrong with you?
It was just a mental problem, not physical. You know, my swing wasn’t there, and I couldn’t make any putts. That’s the reason, the main reason.
Q. How frustrating is it playing so well yesterday and struggling the way you did today?
I cannot find the reason. It’s a 20‑stroke difference between one day and the other, and I cannot find any response.
Q. The 6th hole, can you talk about the 6th hole [double bogey with just 130 yards left to the hole]?
On the 6th hole I hit 3‑wood to the middle of the fairway, and then I had 130 yards to the flag, and I hit the ball very bad. Then all of a sudden…
Q. You went in the water twice?
And so the path to higher consciousness of the golf swing comes not for trying to repeat what you did the day before, but rather it comes from being completely present to what’s going on today, right now, this moment in time.
As always, it’s ordered by slavish devotion to the target because as we have discussed many times before, it is the target that orders and aligns all of the physical movements of the body.