There was evidence Canadian amateur would make his case

Jared du ToitCanadian amateur Jared du Toit appeared to come out of nowhere to contend in the RBC Canadian Open.

In fact, we shouldn’t have been that surprised: the Arizona State junior had won the prestigious Glencoe Invitational—one of Canada’s top amateur events—in June. He shot a competitive course-record 63 at San Francisco’s Olympic Club at the Trans-Miss Amateur Championship three weeks prior.

There’s a massive difference between amateur events and a PGA Tour event, but he was riding some momentum. His game was sharp and he was playing with confidence.

When you’ve pulled off shots recently under pressure, you play with less tension and anxiety. (Slumping players win from time to time, but they are the exception.) It seems pretty obvious, but your subconscious says something along the lines, ‘I know you got this,’ and you tend to be more placid and respond to adversity with less volatility.

To borrow a phrase from European performance coach Karl Morris, du Toit had “built evidence” that his game was trending in the right direction.

You can attempt to fool yourself that you’ll make like a Hollywood movie and pull off a win—whether the C Flight of the Club C or a professional event—without preparation or evidence, but that’s more like a fantasy.

Whether you’re giving a speech, getting ready for a trip or a golf tournament, preparation gives you a better chance. As golf tournaments approach, experienced players gradually move from working on mechanics to focusing on seeing shots, executing and scoring. They take care of their sleep, nutrition and hydration.

When the tournament gets underway, they are in a position to feel comfortable with their pre-shot process, feeling good over the ball and letting shots go.

You can try, but shortcutting the process will usually backfire. Your body is too smart for that. Your thoughts and emotions show up in your body. If you find yourself faced with shots that make you feel uncomfortable, your chances of pulling them off isn’t very good. Chances are you’ll be tight.

When the intensity is cranked up, your body is placed under stress. If you’ve been holding your swing together with a tip—essentially, using your mind—the stress usually overpowers your defenses and your bad habits will reveal themselves.

But if you have put in your practice, and even documented it with notes or scores, you have evidence of your progress. For example, if you play scoring games such as Par 18 or Worst Ball, and you’ve seen your scores get better—you have built pretty solid proof that you are playing well.

Looked at another way, it was no surprise that du Toit did not win despite the most fervent wishes of the patriotic fans. It was his first PGA Tour event. When he turns professional, he will add this experience to others and he’ll inch closer and closer until, we hope, he breaks through.

Given the recent evidence, we won’t be surprised.


About Tim O'Connor

Tim O'Connor is a golf coach, an award-winning writer, and speaker. Tim takes a holistic approach, coaching golfers in the physical and mental aspects of golf. He co-hosts the Swing Thoughts podcast with Howard Glassman, and is the author of The Feeling of Greatness: The Moe Norman Story. He plays bass in CID—a Guelph punk band!