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How a Champion Responds to a Challenge: Lessons from Tiger Woods, Rory Sabatini and the WGC Bridgestone Invitational

Posted by Herman Najoli on August 6, 2007

Yesterday I had the chance to watch the World Golf Championship Bridgestone Invitational with my son. A lot of people were looking forward to the final round because Rory Sabbatini, a fiery South African had a one shot lead on Tiger and three months earlier (in May) had lost a one-shot lead to Woods in the Wachovia Championship, and then said that Woods looked “as beatable as ever.” Once again, just as he did in May, Woods put on a clinic for Sabatini, clawing his way past him and finishing with an eight shot win! – the only player in red numbers at the end of the tournament! Tiger demonstrated that Rory’s challenge was simply talk that could not back up. Tiger unleashed a bogey-free round that made him the first player in golf history to win the same tournament three-consecutive times, twice. Here are some ideas on how champions respond to a challenge:

Lessons from Tiger Woods, Rory Sabatini and the Bridgestone Invitational

1. Inch by Inch it’s a Cinch

Tiger won this tournament by playing consistently right from the beginning. Every hole he played counted as he advanced towards the last hole of the championship. Every inch of the course had to be played. In order to win in life you must realize that there are no short-cuts to winning. Every little effort you put into the quest for success counts. Keep plugging away.

2. Play your own game

At the end of the game, Sabatini said, “I never put any pressure on Tiger, never forced the issue, and he got far enough ahead so he could just cruise. In a sense, I played into his game.” Hmm! Champions play their own game. You’ve got to play your own game. Don’t drive the ball down the fairway just because everyone else is doing that. The key to winning is to develop your own goals and timelines. This is your game, not someone else’s.

3. Don’t be intimidated

What everyone is going to talk about all week are Sabatini’s words that Tiger looked as “beatable as ever.” Everyone wanted to see how these words would impact Tiger. He was not moved all. He simply let his clubs do the talking for him. He stayed focused. If you are going to be a champion, you must choose to stay focused on your personal path. Let your skills do the talking. 

4. Believe in your ability

Everyone has also been talking about whether Tiger can win now that he is a father. Well, he’s answered that question. As everyone is wasting time talking about his abilities, Tiger is investing time in working on his game. To become a champion you must do the same. You must believe in yourself and your abilities. It doesn’t matter what may have happened to you in the past. What matters is what you believe right now. You can do it. As Norman Vincent Peale used to say, “You can if you think you can”.

5. Give yourself the best chance

Tiger gave himself the best chance by playing some really clean golf on the front nine. After the game, he said, “I just kept making par after par after par, and the weather kept changing, kept getting more difficult, and I felt if I could just keep making a bunch of pars, the guys were going to have to get greedy and aggressive to some of these pins and probably make a mistake.” (Click here to read the entire interview) You have to up your game in the crucial moments of life. That’s how you give yourself the best chance to win.

Much kudos to Tiger; a great lesson for all of us.  


One Response to “How a Champion Responds to a Challenge: Lessons from Tiger Woods, Rory Sabatini and the WGC Bridgestone Invitational”

  1. Herman,

    I always love you stuff, as such I tagged you on my site!



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