Jul 03

Preparing for a Major

How the Golf Stars Prepare for Major Tournaments

Golfers are always trying to get into that sweet spot, that place where they can deliver their best rounds during a major championship. When one of those rolls around, it’s not all about how you’re doing this week, and the implications expand. Some take charge, while others back in. Some won’t settle for anything less than that winner’s cup, while others are amazed to be there at all. Here’s a look at how some of them do it.

Paul Casey withdrew from the recent U.S. Open, and the first alternate, fourteen-year old Andy Zhang appeared in Casey’s spot. Whoa – how did that happen? Fourteen? Yes, indeed, and the youngest ever participant didn’t get there by being cute. He qualified with rounds of 70 and 72.

Ohio teaching pro, Dennis Miller, has made twelve attempts to qualify for the U.S. Open. Okay, he played for Youngstown State and won the Ohio Open – no problem, but he is blue collar golfer making his living in the trenches, unaccustomed to major golf championships. He got to the U.S.Open  by hanging a twenty foot putt on the edge, until gravity decided to send him to the field in San Francisco. It was all the rage on youtube.

Spencer Levin, Sacramento native,  twice All-American from the University of New Mexico and winner of the California Amateur  squeaked in via his world golf ranking, despite missing the cut at the FedEx St. Jude Classic in Memphis. Wasn’t he up there giving Tiger trouble at the Memorial just weeks ago?

Tom Lehmann spent his week winning a second straight Regions Tradition tournament, a major on the Champions Tour. He’s been around the majors before as a past winner of the British Open.

Long driver, Dustin Johnson spent his week well, winning the St. Jude, one week before the Open. That’s very good mental and physical prep for entering a major. He’s won the Turning Stone Resort Championship, and was a two-time winner at Pebble Beach, most recently, in 2010. He also won at the BMW Championship – good, very good. However, he also blew a three shot lead at the U.S. Open, which is, to the contrary, very poor mental and physical prep for entering the same tournament.

Lee Westwood used his week to win the Nordea Masters, his third time, and twenty-second European victory. He won it by five shots, and stated the obvious entering the American major. “I am going to take a lot of positives to San Francisco.”

The team from Britain and Ireland defeated the U.S. in the Curtis Cup for the first time in sixteen years, and for some faces on that team, such as Charley Hull and the Maguire sisters of Ireland, consider the win as long-term preparation for many majors to come, on both sides of the Atlantic.

Lee Williams prepared for a future major by winning the Mexico Open on the Nationwide Tour – couldn’t hurt.

Shan Shan Feng has developed the perfect regimen for entering a major in LPGA golf – win a major, as she  did at the Wegmans LPGA Championship. She becomes the first Chinese golfer to win it. Feng is in her fifth year on tour – well done.

So, what did Rory do? Well, he finally shot a round under 70. I guess that counts for something, but I still maintain that McIlroy is a 61 waiting to happen on any given day, and it can happen during a major just as easily as anywhere else.

Tiger put in a good week’s work at Memorial. That was a good sign for the Open, but he might have paced it just a little off, winning the week after. But, predicting what Tiger will do on any given week? Don’t even get me started.

And the victorious Mr. Simpson? Fight an abusive course to a draw while she’s eating everyone else alive.



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