Mastery Moments

The lede story coming out of the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia, is that Americans, Brittany Lang and Stacy Lewis have a one-stroke lead and are tied at 9-under par.

Played on the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Lang shot a clean-card, 4-under 67 to go with her 66 from Thursday. Lewis ripped off the low round of the day, a 6-under 65 to go with her first round 68…and that 65 included a double-bogey.

Both Korean Na Yeon Choi and Dane, Dewi Claire Schreefel are one stroke back shooting 68s to go with their first round 66s.

Spaniard, Azahara Munoz is a shot back of them, also with a 68 to go with her 67.

And there, lurking just 3 shots behind the leaders, sits Yani Tseng after shooting 69, 67. She’s joined by I.K. Kim and Michelle Wie. Suzann Pettersen is one back of them and Paula Creamer is one back of her, five shots out of the lead.

One of the interesting things to come out of Friday’s round was finding out that the golf course is lighted. They had a total of three hours of weather delays for lightning and normally there would have been no way for the entire field to finish their rounds. But there was this time, just flip the lights on. Brittany Lang said, “I was so thankful they had them. I was just so thankful we got done. The lights definitely helped, because that’s an extra two, three hours of rest [in the morning]…You see a few shadows but other than that they are very helpful.”

Rest was a big factor for Na Yeon Choi too. “It was a pretty long day today. Mostly we wait like two and a half hours, three hours. It was a long day but the main thing is we finished it today. I’m very happy. And then I can take more sleep tomorrow, so I mean, very hot right now, humid and I need to take rest for tomorrow.”

But the rain delay also had deleterious effects on the players. Lang describing the precise problem, “You come out and you always feel different. Like I was like a little bit shaky, because you sit for so long, you’re in the air conditioning and you just feel different and then you have to get back to seeing your golf shot. I didn’t do a great job of that coming in, so something to learn.”

“Seeing your golf shot.” This the distinction that most typifies professional players. See the target, see the shot, hit the shot. It is a relaxed mindset, almost like a trance, that allows for the visions of the mind to connect with, to allow, the actions of the body. It requires complete, fearless surrender to the vision. You would think that you’d have to “do something,” but the doing follows the vision, not the other way around. And what Lang was pointing to was the vividness of her vision. Players who are playing great almost see the vision as if it’s real. The genius of the body knows what to do to match it.

Another thought about mastery that come out of the interviews came from Choi in talking about not having won this year. “Everybody has ability to win every week. I’m just keep going every week, do my best…some people think that it only matters if you win something or get something, but I don’t think so. Like if I don’t win or didn’t win, it doesn’t matter. Just every day I learn something, get something. So just keep doing the same thing every day.”

What she’s pointing to is the mastery process where experience is the teacher. Winning is the measure by which success is measured and that’s certainly the ultimate goal. But “winning” is also being able to take away from an experience something that will support winning tournaments down the road. And the other thing she’s pointing to is the trust in the process necessary to keep doing what you know will work even when it isn’t for the time being.

And if you think the world of athletics hasn’t changed, she speaks about nurturing the enabler of all of these ideas, her body. “I have to drink a lot of water, because so hot out there, so I have to take good rest, like after the round, and then eat good food, healthy food and just the same thing.”

And finally, the great Tseng chimes in with her mantra, “I tried to focus on every shot, every tournament, every day, too, instead of thinking ahead. I mean, everybody tries to win the tournament every week, too, so just the most important thing you can do is do the best every day you can and try your best and hopefully just play one shot at a time.

Coming from her, it’s not just empty rhetoric. In fact, the media tried to get her to look ahead to next week’s tournament in her native Taiwan. “Too early,” she said.

And then, to be polite, she expanded her comment a little. But the principle thing that came out of that subsequent exchange is not good news for the rest of the field.

Are you familiar with the course?

Yeah, it’s like my home course because I practiced there for three or four years.

Uh, oh!

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