Mastery Tidbits: WGC-Accenture Match Play – Part 3

As promised, the 3rd and final installment on Tuesday’s media room Q&As at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. This morning we have Keegan Bradley and Germany’s Martin Kaymer.

KEEGAN BRADLEY

Q.  I asked you in Phoenix about how you were able to maintain that sort of sense of fierce determination you had back at the PGA when you hit it in the water and you said it didn’t phase you.  I was watching your face very carefully all day Sunday.  And you were just in the same place.  Can you describe that place for us?

Yeah, it’s a place and a mentality that I love to be in.  I really, really enjoy it.  I wish I could be in it like that every week coming down the end.  It’s what makes golf fun and what makes being an athlete fun.

It’s just–I seem to really enjoy it, which I think makes me play well at the same time.  And I just love the atmosphere.  I love being in the final group with Phil at Riviera or at the PGA in a Major and Byron Nelson.  It just kind of how I’m wired.  I really enjoy it.  I truly mean that.

It’s just fun for me to kind of be out there and just try to show off a little bit and play+ good golf in front of everybody.

Keegan has added something new to his putting pre-shot routine. He turns his head to the right as if he’s trying to look at the putt with a dominant left eye. When you add in his above confessed intensity, he looks like a vampire honing in for the kill. But it had nothing to do with the dominant eye thing:

Q.  They were having some fun with you on the broadcast with, I guess, the left eye dominant thing.  You were sort of giving it, I think McCord said you looked like a guy that thought a hatchet murderer was coming around the corner.  How did that transpire?  I don’t remember you giving it that cockeyed look in Atlanta?

It’s part of what I do.  I try to visualize some things.  I try to get an angle where I can visualize the ball going down the line there.  And, you know, Pepsi, my caddie, made a note of it that I kind of had that stare coming down the end.  He loves it.  My Aunt Pat [Bradley] had it too, I remember.  My dad was always telling me about it.  I think it’s cool, anytime I can be compared to Pat.  She had it and it looks like I might have that look that looks a little scary.  That means I’m in it, I’m looking to win a tournament, which is what I love.

And then they brought up his non-stop, reflexive spitting, an anathema to the civilized traditions of the game. In fact, Tiger took a lot of heat for a wad he let loose in Dubai and promised to work on stopping it. Bradley promised the same thing, but the most interesting thing about it is that he didn’t even know he was doing it!

Q.  Keegan, you took to your Twitter account to apologize for spitting.  I wonder, have people been in touch with you about that since Sunday night?  It’s something that certainly appeared on the British broadcast and was analyzed quite a bit.  Have people criticized you since Sunday?

Yeah, I was very surprised to see the replay of the telecast to see how much I was spitting.  To be honest with you, I really had no idea I was doing it.  And I feel bad.  It’s something that I’m going to work on and I just ask everybody to just kind of bear with me as I go through this, because it’s something I’ve done without even knowing it.  I’m going to truly work on it.  It might take some time.  But I will do any best to stop.  It’s something that I’m glad that’s come up, because I’m able to kind of nip it now.  It’s just a thing where I’m watching the replay–I’m watching myself, and I never even knew I was doing it.  In a way I’m glad it happened, but it’s something that I’m going to try very hard to stop.

Then I asked him these first two questions about his pre-shot routine and another reporter followed up with a third. It had always been a little fidgity, but it has morphed into an elaborate, balky, seemingly neurotic hesitation. I wanted to know what was going on. And, once again, he had no idea that he was doing this.

Q.  Your pre‑shot routine is pretty elaborate and thorough.  Can you give us some sense of what you’re going through, what you’re looking for, what you need to have happen in that pre-shot routine to get you to the point where you can hit the shot?  [Because] once you’re ready to hit the shot, you hit the shot.

Yeah.  It’s about visualization.  It’s kind of my way of staying not stagnant.  It is a little different.  I will take a look at that again.  But it’s something that, you know, I’ve been doing and it’s been working.  So I’m going to– I do take a look at these things and talk to some people that are important to me about it, the people that know.  It’s, again, something that I’m going to work on.  It’s not something that I can stop or that I can–I don’t like, it’s just something that I’m going to work on.  Coming down the stretch, it does come up a little bit.  But it doesn’t seem to affect my ability, which is the most important.

Q.  I wasn’t suggesting anything was wrong, I was trying to get the sense of what you were doing.

I’m very much into not hitting it until– if I’m walking in and have a bad thought, I’ll come back out.  I see a lot of players hit shots when they’re thinking about don’t hit this in the water or don’t hook this over here.  And basically what I do is, I’m not going to go until I’m ready, until I know I’m going to hit a good shot.  And that’s kind of what happens.

Q.  Were you surprised that you backed off so much coming down the stretch?  Did that surprise you at all when you saw the replay?

A little bit.  But, again, it’s something that you don’t even really realize you’re doing when you’re in the heat of it.  I will take a look at it and see if there’s any improvements that I can make.  But, again, it’s something that I’ve been doing for a long time.  I’ll work on it if it really needs to be fixed, if it affects my ability.

I found it very interesting that he was so unaware of all of these things. It’s no different than having blind spots in a golf swing. You struggle and struggle, you can feel the inefficienies in your swing, but you can’t put your finger on it until a coach says, “Oh, you’re just doing such-and-such. You need to do this-and-that instead.” Almost always the beginning of another arduous trail, but in the end, another step towards consciousness.

MARTIN KAYMER

Last year, Martin Kaymer was “King of the Mountain,” on a hot run of impressive finishes. While he’s still ranked No. 4 in the world, his name is hardly mentioned here in the States. Probably because he hasn’t been here since he missed the cut in the PGA Championship back in August. He did win WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai and contribute to a T2 for Germany in the World Cup, but those international events did little to raise his visibility here. So I tried to get into the matter as delicately as I could:

Q.  So, last year when you came in here you had this aura of invincibility about you.  They were giving you the nickname the “Germanator” and nobody gave a Luke a chance.  That was then and you are still No. 4 in the world, yes?

Yeah.

Q.  So where are you from back then when you had that aura about you and where you are now about your sense of your game, your sense of yourself, what you have to do to get back at the top, if that’s your goal?

I still think I play good golf, you know.  But overall, I understand the last year has been a little different for myself.  I obviously was No. 1 in the world.  It was not only a big thing for me but Germany as well and German golf.  So a lot has happened and my focus has gotten a little bit away from golf, but then in the middle of the season I could focus back on golf.  I was changing a few things.  I was adjusting a few things.  I feel very good about my game.  It is just a matter of time that it will happen that I have a good long time of good tournaments.  I’m not too concerned.  I still play good golf and I know I need to be on my top form in order to win.  You need to keep working and improving.  That is what at the moment I enjoy the most.  I have a lot of things that I can work on and I see.  I can benefit from it.  It will become better and better every month.

Another reporter asked him if he was Googling his first-round opponent, Australia’s Greg Chalmers, in order to gather intelligence about him. He said that he had spoken to Aussie, Geoff Ogilvy about him, but that was all. But then this exchange about his nickname.

Q.  Do you think he is Googling the “Germanator?”

The Germanator?  Where did you get that from?

And then we discover that he doesn’t much like his nickname intended as a compliment.

Q.  Haven’t you heard that before?

I heard about it from the “Morning Drive” [on the Golf Channel]  I know they called me the Germanator.  I think we should look for another nickname.

Anyway, that’s the report from the front lines. I’m off to the course to see if I can find some interesting matches to follow.

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