The media dubbed the event, “The Miracle at Medinah.” This was no miracle. You can never discount the immense value of “heart” when it comes to success.
But first, let us put this story into perspective. Last weekend, the Ryder Cup was played at Medinah Country Club, near Chicago. Every two years, golfers born on European soil compete against golfers born on U.S. soil (I write “born” because some European players now live in the states).
The United States team was the overwhelming favorite. Out of the 12 players on each team, 11 of the top 12 players ranked in the world were on the U.S. team. Further, six of the European players were ranked below the lowest ranking U.S. player, Jim Furyk.
On paper, this should have been a blowout!
But as I tell the golfers I coach, good golf is based on your swing being repeatable and a fluid putting stroke. But great golf and winning championships is based on heart. Great golf is much more about being emotionally engaged in the moment and rising to the occasion. Without heart, you will never be able to deal with all the obstacles that come your way.
The European team had heart. It all started with their captain, Jose Marie Olazabal. He placed in their heart the notion that the team was competing for their fallen comrade, Seve Ballesteros, who died of brain cancer a year earlier. Seve, who hailed from Spain, was a dominant player in the late ‘70s and ‘80s in the sport. He had won five majors in his career and was the catalyst for the rise of great players in Europe. Jose had also paired with Seve on at many previous Ryder Cup tournaments. Team members even put a silhouette of Seve on their shirts’ sleeve.
The image of Seve gave the Europeans a reason to win, well beyond just the competition. Seve gave the European team the drive to overcome any obstacle. He, himself had come from a poor family to rise to the top of the golfing world. The thought of Seve gave the Europeans the heart to win.
Friday and Saturday of the Ryder Cup is reserved for four-ball/foursome competition. This is golf lingo for two-man teams competing against each other for one point. By the end of Saturday’s competition, the US was leading 10-6.
Sunday of Ryder Cup competition is reserved for single play. All 12 players from each team compete against each other for one point. Because Europe had won the cup 2 years earlier, they needed to win eight of the singles play for a total of 14 points. (The winner of the previous competition needs 14 points, while the other team, the U.S., needs 14 1/2 points to win the cup.
But winning eight out of the 12 matches should have been impossible. Most people believed that it would take a miracle!
In reality, the U.S. was the underdog. They had no Seve to inspire them to greatness. They were only playing for the cup, and you could see it in their play. Every U.S. competitor was flat-footed, except for a few deft moves by Keegan Bradley and Phil Michelson.
The so-called “miracle” at the Ryder Cup was a prototypical example of the secret to a successful life.
Talent is not enough. Knowledge is not enough. Having heart is the key to ignite your drive to the top of your world!