How to Finish When Leading a Tournament

Stop Self-Sabotaging Late in Rounds

Do you have difficulty closing out a round of golf? Do the last few holes feel so much harder to play than the front nine?

Some golfers become over-aware of their score as they approach the last few holes, especially if they are shooting a low score. These golfers play out all sorts of negative scenarios in their heads…

“If I shoot par over the next three holes, my score will be…,” “I need a birdie on this hole to shoot my career best score” or ” If I double bogey this hole, I might not finish in the top three.”

All these ‘what ifs’ cause golfers to play it safe. Their focus is on not messing up instead of continuing the aggressive mindset that put them in position to shoot a low score.

A similar scenario was brought up by a golfer who answered our mental game of golf survey:

“I have problems closing out a round of golf, especially when I have the lead or when I’m shooting a low score heading into the three or four holes. Somehow, I always seem to mess up as other golfers are closing in on me. How can I keep my focus and finish out a round when I have the chance to win?”

This questions is a lot about your focus. You can focus on many things during a round of golf: other golfers, the crowd, your score, the leader board, playing conditions, your swing, your breathing, muscle tightness, your thoughts, the consequences of losing, etc.

What you focus on will have a direct and significant impact on your score and your mental game.

Finishing out a round strong requires that you maintain the same approach and mindset as the beginning of the round. Mostly likely you were playing aggressively without overthinking and second-guessing every shot.

This is the situation PGA golfer Marc Leishman found himself in at the 2020
Farmers Insurance Open. On the final day, Leishman shot 31 on the front nine to move into the top spot on the leaderboard. Leishman made three critical par saves on the back nine and birdied the last hole for a one-shot

Leishman maintained the same mindset from the first tee shot to the final putt. Leishman played aggressively throughout the round no matter what was happening around him or who was chasing him down.

LEISHMAN: “If I wasn’t to win, I didn’t want it to be because of me. I wanted
it to be because someone made a run, which Jon [Rahm] did. I’m just lucky that he didn’t do it a hole earlier.”

As you can see, Leishman focused on each shot, as if it were the most important shot, and gave it his full attention.

How to Stay Focused

Getting back to your original question, “How can I keep my focus and finish out a round?”

ANSWER: Recognize when your focus drifts to outcome and refocus on playing your game with the same mindset you had earlier in the round.

You want to continue to play aggressive golf and go for it instead of the mindset of protecting from making bogies. “Get after it” to remind yourself to be aggressive.

You first have to control of your mindset, before you can control of your game.

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