Did the man read Norman Vincent Peale over the last month or what?
Last month at the WGC Invitational, Vijay was barely guiding in 3-footers in route to his surprising win. This past weekend, he was like the lovespawn of Ben Crenshaw and Brad Faxon. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen someone make so many long putts in a single round. 180 feet of putts in 18 holes. That’s an average of 10 feet per hole.
The close-ups of Singh’s stroke last month were brutal. It looked as if the man was standing on a float in water while making his putting stroke—it was so loopy and unsteady. But he’s rock solid now.
At this level, it’s like 95 percent mental. The announcers on NBC yesterday discussed how Vijay’s turnaround is a result of his mantra: “I am the best putter in the world.” Apparently, after his recent putting woes, Singh—so well known for his mechanical and analytical approach to the game—just decided he would become a good putter by telling himself that he’s a good putter. It worked. Bob Rotella would be proud.
But, really, it just goes to show the power of the mind. Many of those guys out on the Nationwide Tour, and the more successful ones on the Hooters Tour level—they can make the shots. The hardest part is controlling what’s between the ears, though—keeping those negative, self-defeating thoughts out of your mind when you’re standing over a four-foot putt that you’ve made tens of thousands of times. Or trying to focus on the plush green fairway when you have O.B. right and a massive lake staring you down on the left.
It sounds so easy. For instance, I want to hit a 211-yard 8-iron like Camillo Villegas did yesterday. So all I need to do is just repeatedly tell myself I can hit a 211-yard 8-iron, right? I wish. It’s difficult, but you’ve got to believe it. I believe that I can hit a 200 yard 8-iron about as much as I believe I can outswim Michael Phelps.
But Singh knew he had positive putting experiences in the past, and he mustered up enough pleasant thoughts to truly believe he was the best putter in the world—if only for a day.
Now, as a friend asked me today, how’s he going to do when He Who Shall Not Be Named returns? We shall see. We shall see.