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May 20 2013

6:22 PM

Mental Game: Enjoy the moment

Sang-Moon Bae stayed positive despite some challenges on Sunday. (Pennington/Getty Images)

By Dr. Gregg Steinberg, Special to PGATOUR.COM

Sang-Moon Bae, who captured the HP Byron Nelson Championship on Sunday, did not look like a novice who had never won before on the PGA TOUR. Rather, he showed the composure of a seasoned veteran with many victories under his belt. Observing the thoughts and behaviors of Bae can bring many valuable lessons to amateurs about how to handle pressure down the stretch of a golf tournament.

Here are some key mental game insights to bring to your game:

1) Bae said he was nervous on the last few holes of the tournament. Amateurs need to understand that everyone gets nervous when an event is important. Anxiety is not your enemy. The secret to your success will be how you handle those nerves.

2) When Bae felt the nerves creep into his game, he indicated that he focused on his game. In other words, he was not thinking about his score or winning but the process of making a good swing. When nerves enter your game, have a swing thought that you can trust, then focus on the process of making good swings.

3) In the middle of the round on Sunday, Bae struggled. He had a double bogey on No. 9 and then made a sloppy bogey on No. 10. Throughout your round, you will face a few real challenges. I call them dragons. You must be able to slay the dragons and not let them get you down or have them kill your confidence. Stay calm and collected like Bae and realize your game will rebound if you do not hit the panic button.

4) Have lots of fun during the heat of competition. Bae said he had a great time during the tournament. It is hard to be very nervous when you are enjoying the moment. Joy will push out the nerves.

Bae won his first tournament because he had the mental fortitude to handle the pressure. Follow his lead and you will be much more solid under pressure as well.

Bio: 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 as well as top collegiate and junior golfer.  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.

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