This is the face of gentle joy. This is the face of rhythm and grace. This is the face of a champion.
Japan’s, Ai Miyazato won the 2012 LPGA Lotte Championship at Ko Olina Golf Club in Kapolei, Oahu, Hawaii. She won by four shots over Azahara Munoz from Spain and Meena Lee, a Korean transplant from Orlando. And the media wanted to know how she did it:
I don’t know what happened, but I just focus on my game and, you know, just finish by four shots. But I was pretty nervous towards the end because I know that everyone is playing really well. I have to finish really strong, so that’s why I got really nervous.
But I just keep saying to myself just to be patient and no rush. Take one shot at a time and see what’s going to happen. So I had lots of good self-talk today. And that’s why I think I shot 2-under today.
All of this confessed nervousness is quite surprising. To watch her play the final round, you would think she didn’t have a care in the world. Under pressure, players can get tight and their swings shorter. Not Miyazato. All day long she slowly swung the club up to the top and then slowly accelerated down and through the ball. I didn’t notice one hurried or quick swing. Neither, apparently, did anyone else in the media room:
Q. You make hitting the ball and putting look so easy. Everyone in this room knows it isn’t, but some people watching it on TV might think, Wow, that’s real easy. What can you say to those people about the work it takes?
Well, definitely not easy, no. It’s definitely a compliment when people say that I make it look easy, but I also feel that it looks that way that maybe I’m playing simple and also playing in a good state of mind.
So very happy [to receive the compliments].
The good state of mind she mentioned is writ large all over her face in the above photo. It is the result of an easy, smiling way of being that is her trademark…and she maintained it all day long. There is this countenance about her that makes you think that she never cried as a baby, was always a good girl, never had an angry word for anyone. I think it’s safe to say that she is beloved on the LPGA Tour.
And it’s not just her swing that has this meter to it, her putting stroke is equally patient and unflappable…and effective. She only had 24 putts Saturday (the tournament had an unusual Wednesday to Saturday schedule to accommodate Pacific Rim television). And that’s how she managed to birdie three of her last six holes.
And once again, except for a handful of players, the Hawaiian trade winds suppressed scoring. So it was all the more impressive that Miyazato was able to maintain her tempo while being buffeted by the winds.
So the lesson in all of this is that it’s not just your golf skill set that brings you victory, it’s also the state of mind, the way of being, that allows you to freely exercise them.