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The Tour Report

July 22 2013

10:07 AM

Mental Game: Phil's resiliency

Phil Mickelson put the past behind him to win the Claret Jug at Muirfield. (Carr/Getty Images)

By Dr. Gregg Steinberg, Special to PGATOUR.COM

After being so close at Merion and not winning the U.S. Open, Phil Mickelson should have been deflated. Mickelson should have had a difficult time bouncing back from his sixth runner-up finish and another disappointment at the U.S. Open. As Mickelson stated, “losing is such a big part of golf. It could have easily gone south”.

But Mickelson did the opposite. Instead of getting down and rejected, he mentioned that he used that disappointment as a springboard for his motivation. The loss at the U.S. Open pushed him to practice harder on his game.

Mickelson's resiliency paid off. In a month’s time he played one of the best final rounds of his career to capture the Claret Jug at Muirfield and win The Open Championship.

Golf is full of ups and downs during a round, as well as during a season. To play your best golf, you must be resilient like Mickelson and stay motivated when times get difficult.

Psychologists have discovered that golfers who are resilient see failure as within their control. Golfers who are resilient explain their failures using what is known as the TUF strategy. Resilient golfers see their failures as temporary, unique and flexible.

The following examples illustrate how you can become more resilient in your golf and bounce back from a downward turn in your game:

1. See your bad days on the course as temporary. Tell yourself that you did not have it today. But tomorrow is another day, and your game will turn around. The emphasis is to believe that your bad golfing days are not permanent.

2. See your bad rounds as unique. Some courses will not match up well with your game. Others will. See those bad rounds as being specific for that course. The emphasis here is to believe you will play well on other courses in the future.

3. See your bad rounds as flexible and within your control. Like Mickelson did, you should believe that all you need to start playing better is to practice harder. Or, you may want to work a tad more on your short game. The emphasis here is to believe that a change to a better game is within your control.

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 drgreggsteinberg.com.