Want to win like Tiger? Peak for every round, not just for your club championship

Woods made three birdies on Saturday.
Thomas Lovelock / SI

Sometimes you’ll hear that Tiger Woods has won 14 majors because he tries to peak four times a year.

Actually, the truth is just the opposite. Tiger was so successful for so long because he prepared for every tournament like it was a major. Whether he was playing Doral, the Memorial or the Masters, Tiger practiced with the same focus and competed with the same intensity. That meant that when it was time to play in a major, Tiger could treat the Masters or the U.S. Open as just another tournament.

This approach was a huge advantage for Tiger because all the other guys were trying to peak four times a year. By treating the majors as more special, players put more pressure on themselves to perform.

It’s the same thing that happens to you when you take your game from the driving range to the course, or from a friendly round to the club championship. You go from trying to hit good shots to trying not to hit bad shots. The key is to treat the club championship like it’s a regular round of golf. Competitive golf is a tightrope walk without a net, and to be comfortable in that environment you need to put yourself in that position as often as you can.

The downside to Tiger’s approach is that it can wear you out. Because of injuries and limited practice time, Tiger hasn’t been able to approach every event like a major anymore. Instead, he’s using regular season tournaments, like Bay Hill, to see where his game is. He can still win majors, but he doesn’t have that same advantage because he’s trying to peak for four weeks too.

I’ll know Tiger is mentally back when I see him playing every week as if it’s a major. And when that happens, look out world.