Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network.com) - In all of the Majors mental toughness is key, both for handling the pressure of being in contention and for bouncing back from making mistakes.
Augusta is made for mistakes but if you dwell on them and allow them to dent your confidence then the course will eat you up. The key here is keeping your confidence high so that if you make a mistake you can just keep going, sticking at your game plan, targets and tournament processes such as routines and swing keys.
To me the Masters nearly always produces a quality winner because the course is set up tough but fair, favoring the very best players.
Generally these are good ball strikers with a sharp short game who know the course well or who have developed a good robust game plan. It favors the longer hitter who shapes it right to left so I suppose in theory someone like Rory should do well.
When in contention it will be easy to think ahead and get distracted by results and the noise of the crowds that echo around the course, so remaining focused on yourself really is key.
This is easier said than done, as Rory himself found out in 2011 when he completely lost focus and got distracted by thinking about the future and potential results.
Focus is a key part of mental toughness but it is a skill in its own right and you have to prepare for it. This means you have to decide what to focus on and then remain focused on it.
To do this you have to look at key processes and really find an answer to the question ?how do I win here?' You then work your way back in order to develop your competition focus plan.
For example a particular golfer could decide to:Keep relaxed by chatting with their caddy and controlling their breathingFocus on their routines and targetsStick to their game plan
Focusing on these simple things can have many benefits. Firstly, it helps the player focus on the here and now so they are not in the past or future but on the task. Secondly, these processes can easily be performed and are under the direct control of the player so they can reduce stress and improve confidence.
Lastly, by performing these key processes, the performance should improve. Top athletes will write these down and reinforce them throughout their round.
When Louis Oosthuizen had a dot on his glove (above) and won the British Open, the dot represented a process and helped him focus on him and him alone, not other players, scores, results or the Claret Jug. This is what the winner will need to do. It sounds simple but it's a real skill to have the ability to focus solely on yourself, and then have the confidence to regain that ability if it does slip.