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Performing while under pressure is hard. Performing while under pressure on the golf course is nearly impossible. Even the best golfers in the world succumb to the stresses of being in the spotlight. Choking away a lead is quite common in golf, so being able to close is an invaluable asset.
Daniel Berger was able to close out his win at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am with a clutch eagle at the last. It might have looked like the gravity of the moment had no effect on him, but in reality, he was a bundle of nerves beneath the surface.
“Winning a golf tournament just feels like you’re having a heart attack on every hole,” Berger said after his win. It turns out we might have more in common with pro golfers than we thought.
Berger’s eagle came after he hit two perfect shots on Pebble’s iconic 18th, setting up a long eagle try that he jarred for the win. Berger’s ability to put the nerves to the side and perform with the pressure on was impressive, and it’s something we can all learn from.
Here are three tips for performing under pressure.
1. Have a go-to shot
As we’ve covered, playing golf under pressure is not easy. But you can make it a little easier by hitting a shot you know you can pull off in crunch time. If you can master a go-to shot, it will make dealing with the pressure a little easier.
Berger went to his go-to shot (fade) on his approach into the 72nd green, and it resulted in a look at eagle.
“I’m usually a cutter of the golf ball,” Berger said. “The wind was a little off the right, which I think kind of helped me out a little bit, just being able to kind of hit a little cut that kind of comes out straight.”
2. Stay aggressive
It can be easy to take something off your swing in crunch time in order to guide the ball toward the target, but this often ends in disaster. When the pressure is on, you have to keep swinging aggressive. If you put yourself in a high-pressure situation, it likely came from swinging the club with conviction. Keep that same gusto in mind when you line up for a pressure-packed shot.
“I wanted to be as aggressive as possible,” Berger said about his 18th-hole heroics. “I would rather go down swinging than making a conservative swing that doesn’t end up really well.”
3. Embrace the moment
Performing under the gun can be scary, but if you can embrace the moment, it will help your performance. Sure, it’ll be uncomfortable, but if you want to be able to handle pressure, you need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. The more you deal with it, the easier it will become.
“I love that feeling of that pressure,” Berger said. “I wouldn’t call it anxiety, but I would call it excitement.”