Spoiler alert: Tiger Woods won the 2019 Masters. If you don’t know that by now then you probably don’t care about this post in the first place.
There’s always a lot to learn by watching the best players in the world rise to the occasion of the most important events of the year. But one really important thing I saw while watching Tiger, not just in this round but in all four rounds of the tournament, was his obvious composure. He said in his winning interview in Butler Cabin how he was so close in the British Open and PGA Championship late last year, but he wasn’t able to get it done. But he said he learned from his experiences in those events and applied them to his run at The Masters.
He didn’t explicitly state what lessons those were that he was able to glean from those close calls, but if you were watching close enough during those two majors last year, Tiger got very, very excited during each one. His highs were really high and his lows were really low. He clearly wanted those majors extremely bad. It had been so long since he was in serious contention and it showed.
But this time was different. He wanted to win just as bad, maybe even more. But Tiger was laser focused. He remained the same whether he hit a poor shot or he made a vital putt. Yes there were those moments when he showed bursts of emotions, but he so quickly regained his composure and moved on. There were several times when you could hear him take deep, calming breaths or see him close his eyes for extended periods of time. If you could open up his brain and see what was going on, you’d probably see that he was thinking something like “I can celebrate when I’m done. But for now I have a job to do.”
This is all obvious stuff you’ve heard a million times from sports psychologists. Stay in the moment. Focus on the process. Let the results come to you. But Tiger was intentional about it. He took what he learned and applied it.
This doesn’t have to be unique to Tiger. Tiger went through something and learned from it. You can learn from your past. Tiger practiced his mental game. You can practice your mental game. This principle is key to improving. Learning from mistakes and growing. You’re not fixed where you are.