It's not a question of if someone is going to play in the Zone
for 18 holes and shoot a 54 or better, but when it will happen.
Steve Lowery's thrilling stretch at the International makes me
more certain than ever that it's going to happen sooner rather
than later. Hey, if Lowery, a potbellied 41-year-old with only
two career wins, can go so deep into the Zone that he can birdie
from a pond, hole out a wedge shot for eagle and jar a 207-yard
six-iron (above) for double-eagle, then someone more physically
gifted can stay in the Zone for a full round.
STOP SIGNS Superlow scores would be more common if pros really
wanted to shoot them. Very few players understand how much skill
and potential they have, so their goals aren't lofty enough.
Asked if he was surprised by his double eagle, Lowery said,
"Yeah, shocked." Why? Annika Sorenstam and Tiger Woods think they
can birdie every hole. It shouldn't take an odd scoring system
that induces an all-or-nothing attitude to inspire middling pros
to think big. Another roadblock is that only a handful of pros do
the self-analysis that's necessary after playing and practicing
to learn how they get into the Zone and what they do while there.
SHARK ATTACK Watching Greg Norman climb to within a point of the
lead on Sunday and then fade to fourth reminded me of the fatal
flaw that has caused many of his collapses. Norman doesn't always
acknowledge his flaws, so he doesn't have a chance to fix them.
Norman might not have come unglued at the '96 Masters, losing a
six-shot lead on Sunday, had he admitted his game was coming
apart and then found a way to fix it. Before the final round of
the 1996 U.S. Women's Open, Sorenstam was so worried about
holding her three-shot lead that she asked Pia Nilsson, the
Swedish national team coach, for help. Nilsson offered Sorenstam
some calming techniques--talk slowly and count your steps instead
of your strokes while walking--and Sorenstam cruised to a six-shot
SEOUL SEARCHING Five years ago the LPGA had one South Korean,
Pearl Sinn, and she was 151st in earnings. This year the tour has
12 Koreans, and after Mi Hyun Kim's second win in three weeks
(and the third straight by a Korean), four of the top nine money
winners are from Korea. What's behind the sudden success? A
relentless work ethic that makes other LPGA players marvel. It
might sound like stereotyping, but the Koreans, as a whole, flat
outwork their peers, sometimes logging twice as many hours on the
practice tee. I've witnessed this when coaching Grace Park, the
predominantly Korean UCLA teams in the mid-'90s and many
non-Korean amateurs and pros.
Lynn Marriott is a co-owner of Coaching For the Future, a golf
education company in Phoenix, and one of Golf Magazine's Top 100
THREE COLOR PHOTOS: COURTESY OF CBS (TOP)
TWO COLOR PHOTOS: PORTER BINKS (2)
Contrary to popular belief, the Zone--the mental and physical
state in which you achieve peak performance--is quantifiable.
There are specific feelings and thoughts that golfers have, and
actions that they take, while playing in the Zone, and these are
unique for each person. The key to playing in the Zone more
frequently is to identify your individual zoned-in feelings,
thoughts and actions. The best way to do that is to keep a small
notebook in your golf bag and, after rounds that include zoned-in
stretches, jot down what was going through your mind and the
actions that you took precisely when you were in the Zone. To the
left are a couple of pages from one of my notebooks.