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John Renslow: Face the next step with confidence

Phil Mickelson holds the Wanamaker Trophy after winning the PGA Championship golf tournament on the Ocean Course last Sunday in Kiawah Island, S.C. Photo
Associated Press

Wow. Wow. Wow.

Last Sunday, Phil Mickelson became the oldest winner of a major tournament, ever. At the spry age of 50, Phil won the 2021 PGA Championship. Not that this feat requires even more perspective, but his playing partner on the final round, Brooks Koepka, is 31 years old.

Prior to this remarkable event, the oldest player to win a major was Julius Boros at the age of 48. With this victory at the 1968 PGA Championship, this record stood for over 50 years.



Yet, perhaps this is still not far enough back to bring this into focus. It was more than 100 years before that when Tom Morris, Sr. (affectionately known as Ol’ Tom Morris) won the Open Championship (in the states referred to as the British Open) in 1867.

It’s not a stretch to think that the height of this new bar will stand for decades, if not centuries.



As we have discussed, if we pay attention during a round of golf, there is always something to learn. Certainly, observing the world’s best will provide some nuggets, veins of knowledge that will help us on and off the course.

Throughout the week and more obviously during those last 18 holes, Phil took time to himself before virtually every shot.

Over the last several months, the man has been improving his focus through meditation.

Each challenge, shot by shot, that presented itself on the course was met with a moment to center himself, assess the situation, and rehearse the outcome mentally, before the physical execution.

Did this result in perfection? Of course not. We are imperfect creatures and golf is not a game of perfection. Yet, it allowed him to reboot his brain (can you hear Kevin Costner saying “Clear the mechanism?”) and put himself in a positive frame of mind to hit that next shot.

When his ball bounded across the right part of the fairway and into the water on hole 13, we all held our collective breath. We have all been there. In life and in sport, that error we just made can seem fatal.

Our heart sinks and our thoughts are often even lower. But, wait.

Bring on the pause. Take a moment. Look at your surroundings from a higher elevation.

Winning will almost always include a mistake or possibly multiple miscues. Individually, we should all have our own definition of winning (don’t let someone impose this on you). Then, as we encounter the challenge, we can see things as they are.

Phil would go on to play the last four holes at level par and win. He’s 50 years old, knows more about the game and how to play it better than perhaps any other human.

He is still learning and pushing himself to improve as a player and person.

We can’t change the past and likely can’t adjust our current condition. However, what we should internalize from Phil’s historic week is that we can face the next step with confidence.

John Renslow is a PGA professional, VP of Yugi Golf Management, and provides golf instruction at local courses

John Renslow

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