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Tom Watson and the British Open

This past week, Tom Watson at age 59, finished in a tie for first after regulation at the British Open golf tournament. He lost in a playoff to Stewart Cink. However, his attempt to win this tournament attracted many to their televisions as he played the final round. Even though he fell just short of winning, he sent a message to many athletes old and young . To me, that message was that preparation, attitude, focus and confidence can take you a long way in your athletic competition. Obviously, you have to have the physical ability to compete, but without your mental strength, you will not give yourself a chance to succeed.
As the tournament progressed, more and more people asked me if I thought a 59 year old man had any chance to beat athletes half his age. My response was definitely yes. Watson has the experience, the knowledge and the mental tenacity to succeed against any other PGA players. Obviously, his play at the British Open proved that age should not be a barrier.
I always like to say you can have two athletes of equal skill and physical ability, but the one with the stronger mind will usually be the one who will come out on top. I believe that Watson’s performance proves how important the mind can be when competing. On my weekly radio show, I had several calls from people who thought Watson had a chance to win. However, one caller said he had no chance because of his age competing against younger athletes. Even at age 59 and less than a year after hip replacement surgery, Watson showed that once he regained his physical conditioning and stroke, his ability to believe in himself and focus on one shot at a time gave him the chance to win.
Watson mentioned before the final round that he had a mental plan on how to play that round. As I watched him walk the course, you could see how calm and focused he was. Even though the announcers stated that internally, his stomach had to be churning on overdrive, Watson kept his even demeanor and focus, resulting in a tie after regulation.
Overall, his performance this past week showed how important having the proper mental perspective can be. Watson didn’t let his competitor’s age, or ability be an issue. He was focused on himself, his ability and his game. To me, he showed that the mind can be the difference between success and failure in your athletic competition.

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