DJ Did It. Rory Did It. Will Nick?

Dustin Johnson shot his way out of contention in the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach on the 2nd and 3rd holes of his final round.

Rory McIlroy shot his way out of the British Open championship by following a brilliant first round with a second round in the 80s.

Both displayed tremendous mental toughness this summer.

Mental toughness at the highest levels is not about a “flow state,” but rather is about resilience. You will be hard pressed to find a truly elite athlete that has not overcome obstacles either competitive, personal, or both throughout their career. The truly “tough” athlete learns from each struggle (and success) and comes back better the next day, next week, next season.

Blowing one of golfs major championships in front of thousands of fans and millions of t.v. viewers is tough on the ego. Neither golfer could be blamed for hiding in a hole and having the shakes the next time they present themselves in public. Johnson and McIlory did neither, but rather nearly won the season ending major the PGA Championships. Sure, each came up a few strokes short, but both clearly learned from their struggles over the summer and showed that they are champions (and likely to be one’s with a major or two on their resume). They both put to use the too often forgotten “mental skill,” the ability to learn.

It takes humbleness, self-reflection, and practice, but the “learning” is one skill the great athlete cannot be without.

Nick Watney started Sunday at the top of the leaderboard and managed to play his way out of contention with an 81. Does he have what DJ and Rory have? If so, the next few majors ought to be interesting.

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1 Response to “DJ Did It. Rory Did It. Will Nick?”


  1. 1 Luke August 20, 2010 at 11:05 am

    Great blog! Mental toughness is an essential trait for any athlete. Though the mental toughness required for a golfer is much different than say a football player, the amount of focus, determination and resilience required is no different. Thanks for the post. If you’re on twitter or facebook, connect with us, and we will connect with you: twitter.com/definingsports, facebook.com/definingsportsperformance

    Keep up the great work!


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