01 Jul 2022

Opinion: Reflections on the 2019 US Masters - Ivan Morris

Limerick Leader golf columnist Ivan Morris

I WATCHED the first two days of an epic Masters on SKY before switching over to the BBC for the weekend where the minimum of distracting analysis was a welcome relief.

On SKY there are too many talking heads, gadgets and high-tech graphics whereas Ken Brown on BBC achieves better effect by rolling a few balls down hills.

Peter Allis' whimsical commentary tells you all you need to know about a quixotic game. Peter has been watching golf for forty years and before that was one of the best professionals in Europe for twenty years.

Padraig Harrington was an excellent addition to the BBC team but his predictions were as bad as mine! In fairness, I did mention Xander Schauffle (40/1) who was joint second.

One has to say Tiger's win is one of the greatest sporting comebacks of all time; a remarkable achievement that many (including yours truly) would have said was impossible. What Tiger has gone through emotionally and in operating theatres is beyond words.

Tiger proves once you know how to hit good golf shots consistently, the game is played strategically between the ears and in your heart. Class is permanent.

To control one's emotions in the championship arena requires unshakeable confidence and self-belief.

Rory McIlroy seems to be 'haunted by ghosts' at Augusta. The green jacket that was made to measure for him to wear when he began chipping golf balls into the tub of his mother's washing machine, continues to elude him.

The pressure on Rory's shoulders to become only the sixth man in history to win the career grand slam is unbearable in today's instant news-hungry world.

Rory should fly 'under the radar' by giving fewer pre-tournament interviews even if I like what he says most of the time. Being brutally honest and self-critical is to his own detriment.

I was intrigued to hear him say he has taken up Transcendental Meditation (TM) and ball juggling to help him to get his mental preparation in top order. Unlike the many scoffers, I see nothing wrong with TM and juggling playing a part in his preparations.

The caustic comments I have heard about these practices are ignorant and ill-informed. Don't knock TM if you haven't tried it. Personally, I found it enormously helpful during my own golf career.

Anybody who remembers my ‘antics’ as a fledgling competitive golfer will tell you the words intense and fretful spring to mind. TM helped me to calm down and channel the intensity properly while assisting me from becoming over-wrought, over-anxious and over-tired (emotionally)

Getting the mind and body to work in unison under pressure is a delicate balancing act. TM works for 6 million people around the world many of them are top athletes, actors, university professors, musicians and what you might loosely call 'performers' - all of them with a need to alleviate stress.

TM is non-religious and doesn't guarantee salvation or make anyone better than they already are but, it does help them to find extra awareness, energy and restfulness when it is most needed. Nor has TM anything to do with going into hibernation to live a life of austerity with cloistered Monks. 20-minutes of TM is like having 2-hours of perfect sleep.

I found it a wonderful pick-me-up between rounds if playing 36 holes or during my lunchtime.

TM unlocks the subconscious mind and allows one's instincts to freewheel and dictate events.

I wonder if TM was one of the reasons why Tiger got out of bed at 3.45am on Sunday in order to prepare for his 9.20am tee time? Unlike Rory, he wouldn't tell you!

What was Tiger doing for all of that time before teeing off? Maybe his well-chronicled injuries require a 'good soak' in a hot bath and various massage treatments (like Ben Hogan after his traffic accident in 1949) before going to the gym to be stretched for an hour and embarking on his meticulous practice regimen?

I wouldn't be surprised if Tiger does some kind of Buddhist mental preparation too. Every pro has to find the formula that works for him. If getting up at 3.45 is what is required, that is what a man has to do!

Maybe McIlroy will win his Masters green jacket in the same way as Sergio Garcia did, with a sinking feeling that his chance has passed him by? Sergio won at his 18th attempt.

Rory has a bit to go before he reaches that milestone in 2026. If Tiger is capable of winning a Masters after all he has been through there is no need for Rory to panic; his day will come.

One feature of the 2019 Masters was the introduction of the Augusta National Women's Amateur. What a success that was! These young ladies showed us that they can play brilliant golf too.

The ANWA brought women's golf storming to the forefront. The winner, American Jennifer Kupcho and runner-up Mexican Maria Fassi, are now known faces worldwide. They were in New York for The Today Show with Jimmy Fallon.

People recognised them when walking on the street; something that would never have happened if they had not been seen playing stunning golf on TV on the previous Saturday. From now on Tiger Woods will find he is recognised too!


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