Turned pro: 1996 Reigning Volvo World Matchplay Champion 16 career wins Launched own fashion range 2007 Best Open finish: 2nd, 2008
How important a role does decision making play in golf?
Decision making in golf is crucial, right from the first tee shot, whether that is choosing the right club or how you want to play the hole. Every step of every shot you have to make the right decision. Any poor decisions could result in costing you shots and could be very damaging by the end of the week.
Is it a process that you are conscious of or is there some gut instinct involved?
I think there is instinct involved, but obviously you have to go through the normal process in order to make the right decision and that involves taking into consideration any number of other factors.
That could be whether the shot is uphill or downhill, into the wind or downwind or crosswind, if the ball has a flying lie, or has the grass growing into it and potentially you are going to come out soft. So you have all those factors built into making your decision and hitting your shot within 40 or 50 seconds.
But this game was originally an instinctive game to play, so I think with that in mind you do have to use a little bit of gut instinct.
Which players past or present exemplify good decision making in golf?
I think you just have to look at the guys who have been world number ones. You don't get to that position without making good decisions. Everyone from Seve to Faldo to Langer to Tiger, they all made the right decisions at the right times, and that is what made them world number ones. Generally the ones who make the right decisions are the ones who make a big impact on golf.
Can you pinpoint a particular personal moment of good decision making?
I think the decision to play golf was my best decision ever! But on the golf course, there are a few. Any chance you have got to win a golf tournament there are moments where you have to pick the right shot at the right time and execute that shot properly.
I think about the pitch shot against Paul Casey at the 15th hole, just short right of the green at the WGC Matchplay in 2010, or the pitch shot I played in the Ryder Cup on the last hole with Graeme McDowell against Kenny Perry and Jim Furyk, where I had a number of potential options on what to do with the shot. Executing that shot properly was significant. I chose the right club at the right time and the right kind of pitch shot.
And that is decision making under extraordinary pressure?
How do you manage to achieve that calmness of mind?
I don't think you get calmness. I think it comes automatically when you are under pressure, with the adrenaline flowing. It actually makes you concentrate more without even thinking about it.
So can you describe the ideal state of mind ahead of a game to ensure the right decisions are made?
My state of mind would be relaxed. You need to be fresh, you need to be ready, you need to be able to take into account every factor, and you need to be able to deliver on that pretty quickly.
But if your adrenaline is on, you don't need to make a conscious effort to make the right decision: it will happen. When you are in that frame of mind you do generally make the right decision. It's when you're flustered or when you're out of position, or you have been a little hot-headed, that it can affect that shot-making decision.
Are you somebody who thinks deeply about the game?
Yes, I think deeply about the game all the time. I want to succeed and be the best player that I possibly can, so I have to think about it.
Is it something you can get better at?
Always. You can always get better. You need to be more efficient when you get to the ball and in your shot process. If you are fairly good at that process anyway, then you just need to make a little effort to make that better.
It is clearly vital to play the game well in the head, but ultimately it is the execution of those decisions that are the result — and this bit needs to be right as well?
For sure, you have to back up good decision making with execution. That is something that can be difficult but it is definitely a factor in the whole process. It's all very well making a good decision, but you have to execute that decision and that is something that you have to give 110 per cent effort to.
And how important is it to you to execute those shots and to play the game with your characteristic flair?
For me it's important to look good on the golf course, to deliver and be successful, and to make it fun for the fans on the outside. So I try and do all of that and make it enjoyable not just for me but for everybody else.
You have your own clothing company, IJP Design. Do you think your skill at making decisions on the golf course has helped you with decision making in the world of business?
I think golf is a very good game to help develop a strong business mind. You have to make the right decisions in golf and, obviously, you have to make the right decisions in business. If you don't make the right decisions then your business is not going to be efficient.
Efficiency is key to a business making money, and that is what we are always trying to achieve — to make the right decisions, to make the right product and to sell it at the right price. All of these things require good decisions.
I think golf and business go hand in hand. To succeed in business and to succeed on the golf course you have to have a very similar mindset, so it's no surprise that you see lots of successful business people playing the game.
First and foremost, you have to be put under pressure to be able to play your best golf, and you have to be put under pressure to learn more about yourself. And if you can make the right decision at the right time under pressure then that is going to help you to deliver on the business side of things.
So the way I think about golf has definitely helped me, not just in how I run my business, but also in how I enjoy myself away from the golf course when I am less stressed. Golf definitely has a big part to play in how I run my life.
blog comments powered by