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March 3 2013

7:47 PM

The Mental Game: Thompson's attitude

Michael Thompson's positive attitude might be his greatest asset. (Ehrmann/Getty Images)

By Gregg Steinberg, Special to PGATOUR.COM

The Honda Classic had a major championship atmosphere. 

The best in the world were playing. The conditions were extremely difficult and par was a great score. In fact, only five players broke par during the final round at PGA National.

For Michael Thompson, the eventual champion, this PGA TOUR event played to his strengths. While Thompson has many strengths such as his calm demeanor and his impeccable short game, these tough conditions fit his greatest strength: His positive attitude. 

Thompson has stated that he wants to have the best attitude on the course. This is an essential strength to have when the tournament is playing very difficult. In fact, this strength suited very him well in the past in tough playing conditions as he tied for second in the 2012 U.S. Open.

The good news is that Thompson’s strength of having a great attitude can be your greatest strength as well.

But let’s be honest. While having a great attitude is an essential ingredient to your success on the course, it is as fickle as an 8 year-old boy at a candy store. Good shots create a sweet air of invincibility. A couple of bad shots can instantly sour your attitude, particularly under tough conditions like everyone experienced at this year’s Honda Classic.

One of the toughest mental game skills to acquire is to remain confident in your ability and keep a positive attitude when your game takes the train south to bogey land. However, no matter how poorly you are playing or how many bad breaks come your way, you can always choose to have a good attitude like Thompson.

Centuries ago, the renowned philosopher Rene Descartes wrote that we have the capacity to think whatever we choose. Your attitude is always a choice and your confidence is always within your control.  If you make the correct choice, the chances are much greater that you will become a better player who shoots much better scores under pressure.

Dr. Gregg Steinberg is the author of the best selling golf psychology book, MentalRules for Golf. He is a regular guest every Tuesday on “Talk of the Tour” heard on the Sirius/XM PGA TOUR radio. Dr. Gregg is a tenured professor of sports psychology and has been the mental game coach for many PGA TOUR players. You can see more about him at www.drgreggsteinberg.com, and you can e-mail him at mentalrules24@msn.com.

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