By Dr. Gregg Steinberg, Special to PGATOUR.COM
One of the main reasons Zach Johnson won the BMW Championship was that he was trying not to win. Zach also mentioned he was trying not to get into the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola as well as trying not to get onto the American team for The Presidents Cup. Zach Johnson mentioned he was just playing golf and letting those events unfold.
Let’s clarify this key point: Zach Johnson was trying easy instead of trying hard. Trying easy relates to the amount of intensity level you give toward an event. Trying easy implies that you are giving the appropriate amount of effort to excel at the task. Zach Johnson was at his perfect intensity level at Conway Farms this past weekend because he was trying easy instead of trying too hard.
Trying hard can be very detrimental to your success. In an interesting experiment with Olympic runners, they were asked to run the first race at 100 percent intensity level (or in other words, they were asked to try as hard as they can). In the second race, the runners were asked to give 90 percent (or in other words, they were asked to try easier). Amazingly, they ran faster at the 90 percent intensity level.
Trying too hard can limit your foot speed as well as your swing speed. Forcing the issue and giving all your energy can cause excessive muscle tension, slowing down your arm speed and trunk rotation. However, trying easy should promote a more relaxed feeling that helps to create a greater shoulder turn and faster arm speed. This relaxed feeling can contribute to effortless power.
To try easy like Zach Johnson, here are a few mental game recommendations:
1) Develop a personalized scale of intensity level ranging between zero-100 (based upon a 10-point scale). Make zero being completely flat with very low intensity and 100 being totally amped up and a very high level of intensity.
2) Recall two or three events you played really well on the golf course and rank your intensity level. Some golfers may play their best at 60 while others may play their best at 80. Everyone is unique and you must find your best intensity level.
3) Discover ways to get into your best intensity level. If you play your best golf at lower levels of intensity, then use techniques such as imagery and breathing to get calmer. If you play your best when amped up, then use techniques to get more pumped up. Perhaps an easy slap on the thigh during your pre-shot routine can create a pump in your intensity level.
Get into your best intensity level for effortless power and your best golf.
Dr. Gregg Steinberg is a regular guest every Tuesday on “Talk of the Tour” heard on the Sirius/XM PGA TOUR radio. He is a tenured professor of sports psychology and has been the mental game coach for many PGA TOUR players. Dr. Gregg is the author of the best selling golf psychology book, MentalRules for Golf, and you can get your autographed copy at www.drgreggsteinberg.com
By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- I talked with Zach Johnson just before the start of THE PLAYERS Championship. He was struggling through the first half of the PGA TOUR season, having played in 11 tournaments, missing a trio of cuts and not posting a single top-20 finish in a full-field event.
Trying to be diplomatic, I quizzically stated his year has been a bit “unusual.”
Johnson, paused for a moment and said, “if by unusual you mean terrible, that’s about right.”
Johnson did not go into a bunch of details but said he had not paid attention to fundamentals while practicing and that was going to change.
Johnson finished T19 that week and 14 days later nearly won the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial. Two months later, he lost in a playoff at the John Deere Classic.
I’d say Johnson hit all the fundamentals this week at the BMW Championship. He made one bogey in the final 36 holes while making 20 birdies on the week. Johnson was T3 hitting greens in regulation and T6 in hitting fairways.
However, Johnson won this tournament with his putting. He was second for the week in strokes gained-putting averaging, 1.859 putts per green.
When asked if this week validated his lengthy practice sessions, Johnson said he had seen the improvement before this week and was confident it was just a matter of time before the results followed.
Patience and fundamentals. That’s a winning combination.
Chipping: A tournament is not always determined by birdies or bogeys in the final stretch of holes. For Nick Watney, his moment came much earlier. He birdied the first three holes of the final round and was 4 under when arriving at the par-5, eighth. Watney’s second shot was just right of the green and 48 feet from the cup. He flubbed the eagle chip, hit his birdie chip 23 inches from the cup and then missed the putt, making bogey. Watney said the chip was just a bad shot and rattled him to the point where lost focus on the short putt. To his credit, that was his only bogey of the final round as Watney shot 4 under in the last nine holes to finish second. Telling me a lack of focus caused the short miss -- and perhaps a tournament title -- was a very honest assessment that not many players would answer so directly.
Three putts: Tiger Woods did not have to search hard for an answer to his inconsistent play this week. He simply never got a feel for the break on the greens. Woods had a very untidy total of five three-putts. He had a total of 25 three-putts the entire year, coming into the BMW Championship. Woods missed an uncharacteristic half dozen putts measuring 5 feet of less. For the season, he makes putts of that length 92 percent of the time. I would advise Tiger to toss out this week as an outlier, attribute the putting inconsistencies to a new course and arrive at the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola confident in his abilities.
Closer: It is difficult for me to even write this, but Jim Furyk has trouble closing out tournaments. He struggled last year at the U.S. Open, at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, at the Ryder Cup and at The McGladrey Classic. Furyk did not close out this year’s PGA Championship but I attribute that to Jason Dufner’s superb play. The fifth hole seemed to be a turning point. He had an 8-foot putt for birdie while his fellow competitor, Steve Stricker, had a 12-footer for par. Stricker made; Furyk missed and his stroke seemed tentative for the remainder of the round. I know it’s not a consolation but 20 years from now, I may not remember who won the 2013 BMW Championship, but I will recall Furyk shooting 59 on a windy Friday. I hope he can look at that golf ball in years to come and remember the glory of that second round, rather than the disappointment of Monday.
Golf Course: It’s a shame Conway Farms received so much rain on Sunday. There were some mud balls in the final round, but the area inside the ropes was fine. Any area outside the ropes, where the gallery had trampled, was a nasty odoriferous soup of brown goo. A brisk wind did wonders to help dry the course as the round progressed but I imagine TOUR officials would have implemented “preferred lies” before Sunday’s round began if given a mulligan. The grounds themselves seemed a little tight with traffic congestion but that might be more of a tribute to the huge galleries and the many corporate tents that were sold. It’s hard to criticize a course’s traffic flow just because Chicago golf fans supported the BMW Championship with such enthusiasm.
Karma: Zach Johnson made the decision to skip The Barclays in order to attend his brother’s wedding. He paid a visit to Conway Farms that week, before the wedding, and put in some practice time. That extra practice gave Johnson confidence and a little local knowledge coming into the week. The golf gods always smile on those who have their priorities in order.
Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here
Editor's note: Ernie Els is writing a blog for PGATOUR.COM in 2013 and this is his latest installment. For more information on the World Golf Hall of Famer, visit www.ernieels.com.
It’s disappointing to miss this year’s TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola. It would have been my 17th appearance and as a player obviously you want to be there, but it is what it is. The truth is I never really got myself into a strong position in this year’s FedExCup and in recent weeks it’s been a case of fighting for survival. At the BMW Championship my game just wasn’t as sharp as it needed to be.
Still, I think a week off right now should do me some good. It’s been a busy tournament schedule this year, which is the way we planned it. As defending Open champion it’s important to play around the world and show that beautiful old Claret Jug to as many golf fans as you can – it’s such a positive experience and you want to embrace it and enjoy the whole vibe. I’ve definitely done that, but the batteries might just be running a bit low at the moment, so I’m looking forward to 10 days off and taking it nice and easy.
We’ll be back in action again at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland at the end of this month and then straight after that it’s a quick return to America for the Presidents Cup at Muirfield Village. So there are plenty of great events for me to look forward to and really it’s a case of pushing on from here and trying to play some good stuff through to the end of the season.
Before signing off, I just want to pass along some more great news from the Ernie Els & Fancourt Foundation. Currently all four of South Africa’s major boys’ titles are in the hands of our members. Also, 19-year old Christiaan Bezuidenhout is the No. 1 amateur in South Africa, while on the girls’ side we also have the country’s No. 1-ranked junior golfer, 16-year old Bianca Theron. Congratulations to them and to all our current crop of members who are working so hard on their golf and their education.
That’s it for now. I’ll write again soon.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The last five times Jim Furyk had held the 54-hole lead he failed to win.
Monday, he extended that dubious streak to six.
Furyk, who just three days earlier became one of only six players to shoot 59 in a PGA TOUR event, made three bogeys over his final nine holes and shot even par at Conway Farms to finish third, three strokes behind winner Zach Johnson.
Conversely, Johnson was flawless in the third unscheduled Monday finish of the season, making six birdies, including two over his final three holes, and no bogeys en route to a 65 to finish at 16 under.
It was the 10th win of Johnson's career, now in its 10th year, and first this season.
"It's extremely difficult," Johnson said trying to explain what the 10 wins meant. "I'm not sure I fully grasp it.
"The parity on the TOUR and in the world is second to none. I'm just thankful it has been 10 years, and hopefully many more."
Nick Watney finished alone in second at 14 under after a 64. Three others -- Jason Day, Luke Donald and Hunter Mahan -- tied for fourth at 11 under.
The win moves Johnson to fourth in the FedExCup standings, meaning that if he wins next week at East Lake he would win the FedExCup.
Donald will also be going to the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola.
At 54th in FedExCup points coming into the week, Donald, a member at Conway Farms, needed to finish in a tie for sixth or better. He got it with a final-round 66 that included five birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine.
Tiger Woods, who entered the final round within four of the lead, shot an even-par 71 and was never a factor. Still, his tie for 11th was enough to move him back to No. 1 in the FedExCup standings.
Henrik Stenson, who took over the top spot from Woods with his win in Boston, dropped to No. 2 after a tie for 33rd following a final-round 74.
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Zach Johnson has moved into the top five. Nick Watney and Luke Donald have busted into the top 30.
Those were the big FedExCup Playoffs developments after Monday's finish at the BMW Championship.
Johnson shot a 6-under 65 to win the tournament at Conway Farms. In claiming the 2,500 FedExCup points, Johnson moved to fourth in the standings going into the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola, the Playoffs finale that will decide the winner of the FedExCup.
The top five will control their own fate at East Lake. After the points reset, any player inside the top 5 can win the FedExCup title by winning the TOUR Championship.
Johnson started the week at 27th in points. By moving inside the top 5, he knocks out Graham DeLaet, who fell to seventh.
Tiger Woods, who had fallen to No. 2 behind Henrik Stenson after the Swede won the Deutsche Bank Championship, moved back to No. 1 in points. Woods finished tied for 11th while Stenson finished in a tie for 33rd.
The final five now stands 1) Woods; 2) Stenson; 3) Adam Scott; 4) Johnson: and 5) Matt Kuchar.
"All you need to be is top 5," Woods said after shooting an even-par 71 that included two three-putts. "Top 5 you control your destiny."
Watney started the week 34th in points but posted the best round of the day, a 7-under 64, to make his big move. He finished in second, two shots behind Johnson, and moved to 12th in the standings.
"I knew I needed to have a good week," Watney said. "The guys ahead of me were ahead of me for a reason. They've been playing well all year. Luckily for me I kind of pulled everything together."
Donald started the week in 54th and his chances to reach the top 30 looked bleak after two rounds, as he was just 2 under, well down the leaderboard.
But he shot a third-round 4-under 67 and backed that up with a 66 on Monday. He moved to 29th in points with his T-4 finish.
"I knew I had to go pretty low today," said Donald, who is a member of Conway Farms. "Fortunately I got it going a little bit on the back nine when I needed to."
With Watney and Donald playing their way into the top 30, that meant two players played their way out -- Harris English and Lee Westwood. English started the week 28th and finished at 3 over and in 50th spot on the leaderboard. Westwood, battling injuries this week, shot 12 over to finish 67th on the leaderboard.
Dustin Johnson, who was projected outside the top 30 as one of the few finishers on Sunday, claimed the 30th and final spot.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Nick Watney carded a 64 Monday to finish his week at the BMW Championship at 14 under.
Now he'll have to wait to see if it's enough.
Zach Johnson and Jim Furyk are both 14 under as well but have three and four holes to play, respectively.
Furyk began the day with a one-shot lead by lost that lead with a bogey on the 13th. He bounced back with a birdie one hole later when he got up-and-down from a greenside bunker on the par 5.
Jason Day and Luke Donald are both in the clubhouse at 11 under after each shot 66.
Donald needed a tie for sixth or better to reach next week's TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola and will have to wait it out to see if he does with other players still on the course and close behind him on the leaderboard.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Jim Furyk's lead is gone.
After a bogey on the par-4 13th, Furyk, who opened the day with one-stroke lead over Steve Stricker, now trails Zach Johnson by a stroke.
Johnson, meanwhile, has played his first 14 holes of the final round in 4 under and narrowly missed extending his lead to two when his birdie putt on the par-5 14th slid past the hole.
Nick Watney also has a share of the lead after his fourth birdie over his last eight holes. He's now 7 under on the day but has just one hole remaining.
In the final round of the 2013 BMW Championship, Luke Donald holes a 39-foot birdie chip on the par-4 13th hole. Donald is moving closer to securing a spot in the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola, where he's finished in the top 3 each of the last three years.