June 13, 2003
title has finally sunk in
Whenever someone does something really big in sports
for the first time -- whether it's the Stanley Cup or
the French Open -- everyone wants to know how it feels.
Most of the time the person says it hasn't sunk in
yet, or something along those lines. Having won the
Masters, I understand why.
Things happen so fast and the intensity of the moment
is so great, it's hard to remember your name, let alone
describe what it's like having your dream come true,
or what it means to you.
Well, it's been nearly two months since that amazing
day at Augusta, and I guess it has finally sunk in that
I am a Masters Champion. Hearing that on the first tee
Thursday at the U.S. Open will be a thrill.
Winning hasn't changed me, but it has changed things.
From a golfing perspective I can feel the difference
as I get ready to play in my first major championship
as a major champion.
In other years I would come to the U.S. Open, play
my practice rounds, talk to reporters down from Canada
and from Utah and maybe a few others, and otherwise
go about my business.
This year I'm on the cover of Golf Magazine, I have
a press conference today and there's just generally
more demands on my time. It's a good problem to have,
but I'm glad I'm having it as a 33-year-old with 10
years as a professional under my belt. If this had all
happened when I was younger, it might have been harder
But the most important difference is not so much how
the public perceives me and my golf game, it's how I
The biggest question professional golfers face is how
they will stand up under pressure. We can all hit the
ball far, wedge it close and putt well, otherwise we
wouldn't be out here.
What's important to me is not only that I won the Masters,
but how I won the Masters. On the last few holes the
only person that could affect me winning the tournaments
was me, and I had no margin for error. Winning under
the most extreme pressure gives me a sense of confidence
that I don't think anyone can take away from me.
It's hard to tell how that will affect me this week
at Olympia Fields.
Right now I have an almost no-pressure feeling. I don't
feel the heat of my own or other people's expectations
because it's been such a great year already. Hopefully
that means I can just go out and play freely.
That's probably what Tiger feels like. He's accomplished
so much that he is probably just out there playing and
competing for his own goals and doesn't have to worry
about what anyone else thinks As a result, he plays
Hopefully the same thing happens to me. I noticed it
the other week at the Memorial. I didn't really play
very well the first three days, but I never got frustrated
like I might have in other years.
I was much more patient with myself. I knew things
would come together, that it was just a matter of time.
That's exactly what happened on Sunday, and I made a
bunch of birdies and ended up in third place. In other
years I might have pressed too much and ended up 20th.
I don't think complacency will be a problem. I've never
been a guy to enter a tournament just to get my 20 events
in, it's just not my nature. If I'm going to play, I'm
going to win.
In other years, three wins, with one of them a major,
might be enough to earn player of the year, but already
Tiger and Davis (Love III) have won three times, and
Ernie (Els), Vijay (Singh) and Kenny Perry have won
twice, so there's a lot of guys who have a shot to be
player of the year.
Hey, winning the Grand Slam (sweeping all four majors
in one year) would probably lock it up. Can I do it?
It's a long shot, but I never say never.
Besides, I'm never satisfied. I don't think I ever
will be. Just the other week I was out working with
my coach, Mike Wilson, tweaking a few things, trying
to get everything just right.
The Masters was as good as I've ever been mentally
and obviously with my putting and short game, but it
was nowhere close to my potential for ball-striking.
I still don't think I've ever had everything jelling
at once for an entire tournament, so that's something
to shoot for.
I might be a major champion, but to me the most exciting
thing is that there's a lot of room for improvement.
Stay tuned. The best is yet to come.
Article written by Mike
Weir, PGA golfer