There was one other observation I wanted to add to yesterday’s post on Carl Pettersson’s victory at Harbour Town.
In writing Sunday’s piece on Colt Knost and how everything seemed to be setting up nicely for his first win, I quoted him on how comfortable he was with Saturday’s easy, collegial pairing with Pettersson and how he was looking forward to being paired with him again on Sunday:
This is the third year I’ve played with Carl four or five times. And we get along great. And it’s nice to have somebody to talk to, the whole way around. We’re chatting the whole way. It’s fun, I enjoy playing with him. I’m glad I get to play with him again tomorrow.
That struck me as a little against the stereotype of the completely engrossed, monosyllabic Tour pro in the heat of battle with no time or use for anybody else. “Hey! I’m playin’ here!” if he were ever to give voice to why he was being that way.
So I found it very interesting in reading the transcripts that Knost’s expectations weren’t quite how things worked out on Sunday when Pettersson was asked if his demeanor was any different when he’s in contention:
Yeah, I’m pretty laid back. I didn’t chat that much to Colt today, as much as we did yesterday. I was kind of into my own thing. I’m a laid‑back person but anytime I get in contention I kind of go into this little bubble, and I just try to stay there. I chatted a little bit here and there, but I was pretty focused on everything. There was a lot of conversations up here with myself throughout the day. And I found that’s what works for me, and that’s the way I do it when I get in contention.
And when asked if this mind-state just overcomes him or does he purposefully do it…
I purposely do it, just to stay on task.
So one wonders if Knost was a little blindsided by all the collegial charm evaporating from the relationship? It clearly wasn’t any sort of gamesmanship on Pettersson’s part, but if you were clearly looking forward to feeding off of the great pairing and then it wasn’t, that could explain Knost’s sloppy start and three bogeys on the back when he only made one on the back all week long.
Who knows what the answer is without talking to Knost, but it points to the perils of playing from woundable ego rather than unfettered spirit.
From woundable ego it would be something like, “Why isn’t he talking to me? Is it something I’ve done? Is this just some cheap gamesmanship? Why doesn’t he like me?”
But from unfettered spirit it would be something like, “Isn’t this fun?” What a beautiful, sunny day it is. It’s a wonderful golf course to walk. Okay, here we go: 175 hole, 164 to carry the bunker, wind helping right to left. I see a high cut to hold it against the wind.” And then a pre-shot routine that holds the target and that shot in the mind’s eye all the way through the follow-through.
And then, “What a beautiful, sunny day it is. What a wonderful golf course. Boy, the songbirds are out in force today. I wonder how many there are just in this small area?”
This is obviously a little too fanciful, but just to make clear the contrast between playing from ego and playing from spirit. And it’s never this stark a contrast; there are always going to be crosscurrents between the two.
Although you can take this to extremes. After the second round at Doral, Bubba Watson confessed that, “…because my mind is everywhere. Today I talked about so many different things with my caddie. He’s like, ‘Are you even focused on golf?’”
But if you were to make a constructive choice about which way the bias should be, clearly it’s toward spirit and away from ego.