The terrible five minutes or so that closed IK Kim's final round made me grimace, and rehashing it is hard for me. As always though there are some wonderful lessons to be learned from her failure, and as the legendary Bob Jones once stated: "Victories have never taught a man anything; failures have."
Standing on the final green on the last hole of regulation, Korean IK Kim faced a 'basic' one-and-a-half foot putt for the title. Indeed it was the kind of putt that every competitor would want in that situation… uphill, straight in, and fairly short.
For all intents and purposes the result was a foregone conclusion and to a person, (I am sure even to her closest competitor, Sun Young Yoo) the belief was that the first Major championship of the year on the LPGA Tour was about to belong to Kim.
Tournament golf has a strange way of transpiring though. Kim lined up the putt, struck it and the golf world watched in horror as it hooked out of the hole and missed.
To my knowledge, the shot became the shortest putt for a Major championship title missed on the final green since Doug Sanders missed from a couple of feet on the final green at St. Andrews.
In a cruel twist of fate, Sun Young Yoo birdied the first extra playoff hole to beat IK Kim for the title.
So what can we learn from IK Kim's disaster on the final green:
1. Every shot counts
It is a cliche but you must realise (and remind yourself) that every shot counts and every shot has the same value.
It may not be on the final green of the tournament, it may indeed be in the first round but every shot must be treated with the respect it deserves. It may be a putt of only a couple of inches but remember its value is exactly the same as that of a long drive or a towering iron shot.
Not that IK Kim did so, but resolve also to never 'backhand' putts into the hole, no matter how short they are.
Address each shot properly and execute it with discipline and regard for the influence it can have on the outcome of the tournament.
2. Swing to ‘your’ target:
Too often, golfers swing towards ‘the’ target (the hole) and not towards ‘their’ target (the line the shot needs to start on, bearing in mind the slope or the wind, to end at the target).
Remember that the ball's performance is a manifestation of the message it gets from the golf club and said club gives the ball four messages (clubface alignment; swing path; angle of attack; speed) of which two (face alignment and swing path), influence direction.
To get the ball on line you need to present a clubface that is at right angles to the correct target line and swinging thereon to the ball. Thus, if you have a putt that needs to start on the right edge of the hole (as Kim's did to go in) you must have the face pointing there as you swing towards that 'new' target.
If you swing toward the middle of the hole or if your clubface is pointing there the ball will surely miss.
3. Stay in your routine:
This lesson fits hand in hand with the first one, ‘every shot counts’. Just as you should treat and play every shot on its merits so you should approach each and every shot with the same mindset.
Remember, every shot counts one stroke, there aren't some that are worth a half-stroke. So adopt and use your same routine on every one, from start to finish.
This takes discipline and commitment but the results will most certainly be worth the effort. Sadly you may become the brunt of some of your playing partner's jokes or jibes for ‘wasting time’ on short putts or shots they feel are insignificant, but know this: That miss is going to haunt IK Kim for a long time I am sure.
Don't let that be you! Stay in your routine. Treat every shot as if it was the last one you were ever going to hit and then swing through the line in the assurance that you have done all you can to influence the result.
Good golf and enjoy our great game.