Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The Ryder Cup teams are set, and now we get to see the best players in the world play the way the rest of us do: match play. It’s a different game from stroke play and requires a different strategy. The best match play golfers have a killer instinct. You need that same instinct to win your match this weekend, just as Mickelson and Furyk will need it at Valhalla.
What makes match play so exciting is that there’s no doubt about what you must do. Your normal mindset goes out the window as you try to play your round with one eye on your opponent. This can be very unnerving, and something as simple as hitting the green with a pitching wedge can feel like a challenge after your opponent has gone out of bounds with a tee shot. It's almost like playing the last hole of a tournament over and over again!
My advice is to refocus your efforts on the elements you can control. Focus on your golf and on the shots you need to hit to play a nice game. Pick your targets to fit the situation and then go at those targets with a vengeance. Go for the jugular and get as many holes up as possible early. You never know what will happen later, so take advantage of your good play early on.
Recognize that the momentum can change easily, so don't let your opponent get any breathing room. If you can put him away on the 12th hole, do it. He would happily do the same to you.

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