Defending Champion, John Senden, returns to the site of his second victory, the Valspar Championship on the challenging Copperhead course at the Innisbrook resort in Palm Harbor, Florida.
I have a soft spot in my heart for this Tampa Bay area gem. When I was Monday qualifying on the Champions Tour for the Tampa event, by chance, I stayed at a nearby hotel. But I didn’t know the course was right around the corner.
The course had been on television for years, so on my first drive over to the beach to go for my afternoon run, I was blown away to discover the resort entrance. I called them the next day and was able to arrange a practice round and also discovered a paved running path with no end on the course boundary. I ran my six miles there for the rest of the week. Having that nightly proximity to a golf course kept my head in what I was trying to do.
Years later, when I became a crack reporter for the Daily Planet — er, a blogger at Eye On The Tour.com — I developed a soft spot in my heart for John Senden. After drubbing Jason Day 6 & 5 in his second match of the 2012 Accenture Match Play Championship in Tucson, he gave an interview in the media center that was so rich with a big mastery idea, I did an entire post quoting him verbatim, “When All Else Fails, Chose Freedom.” He had finally gotten to a stagnant point in his career where he realized that the Tour winners were doing something that he wasn’t, playing with freedom. Great introspective interview.
So tonight, as I’m reading the transcripts of Jordan Spieth, Henrick Stenson, Adam Scott and finally John Senden, Senden came through for me again with his very last comment in his interview. He was asked if there was any more pressure coming into the Valspar as the defending champion?
Yeah, I think so. I think it’s just different. I think you have that feeling of, you know, little bit more expectation and you know the spotlight is a little bit more on you.
I’ve always played being sort of coming in under the radar a little bit and it’s different. But when you get to certain levels in golf in your career you certainly get looked at differently. So you have to accept all sorts of feelings and then when you’re in contention any week you got the spotlight on you.
So, people are watching. The world is watching. You have to try and go out there and do your best and that’s all you can do.
And once again we are able to see in Senden generously sharing his extremely personal introspection, that the biggest obstacle in a round of golf isn’t always the golf course. It’s that pitiful, frightened ego that sits astride our brilliant essence causing us to dull that brilliance with debilitating, extraneous worries about what others might think of our failures.
The path to freeing ourselves of this parasitic thinking is always the same, realizing that this is what the ego does in situations that are threatening to its ephemeral existence; here today, gone tomorrow.
Once we become aware, we can rationally choose whether we want to be dominated by fear or fully expressed in our brilliance. And knowing that, with that awareness and practice in being fearless, refuge in our brilliant essence and true freedom is possible.