Sports psychology and all sorts of mind games are among the new 'big things' in golf. But the latest winner on the Evian European Tour, Lynnette Brooky, has a tale to tell that should make us avoid all so-called experts that claim they can delve into our subconscious.
Brooky, a down to earth New Zealander, is a delightfully bubbly character and isn't afraid to tell tales against herself. She won her first tournament, the Austrian Open, in 1998 - but she didn't expect to have to wait until last Sunday to collect title number two in the French Open.
But Brooky reckoned there was a mixture of factors that prevented her making the follow-up win. First of all, there was a famous (and very funny) gaffe when she was making her victory speech at Murhof four years ago. In standing in front of a microphone for a first time, the nervous Kiwi handed out the usual gratitudes to the greenkeeping staff, the caterers, the courtesy car drivers and, of course the most important people of all.
'I would like to spank the sponsor,' she said. From that moment, Brooky can only remember that she was completely flustered by embarrassment, and that Laura Davies and Trish Johnson were practically falling off their chairs with laughter.
It was a moment when she just wanted the ground to open up and swallow her, and she can recall thinking that she never wanted to be in the same position again.
But, of course, she did want to win again, and she admits that it began to irk when, each year, the Tour handbook came out, and there was still just one victory against her name. Anyway, Brooky then visited a fortune teller and, dispiritedly, she was told that she would never win another tournament. Then she went to a psychiatrist, and who also doubted her ability to win again. She was told she had far too many negative feelings - including the memories of the Austrian speech - and that they were all conspiring against her and preventing her from winning again.
On Sunday, she set out with a three-shot lead, and she was so nervous that both her breakfast and lunch orders were left untouched. Many doubts were cluttering her mind.
But, on the course, she was helped by someone who knew exactly how to keep Brooky's thoughts in good, working order.
Tracy Guy, a woman of many parts, had taken over the caddying duties for the final round. An Australian, Guy is a single figure player (she often provides the players with the odd coaching tip), has caddied for a number of leading players and now travels with the Evian Tour as a physiotherapist. In the final round, Guy proved to be the ideal calming influence.
'She was so cool,' related Brooky. 'She told me jokes. They just went in one ear and out the other, but it really helped. She also stopped my thoughts from wandering too far ahead. For instance, going up the 17th, I was already suggesting I should take 3-wood off the 18th tee. But Tracy told me to shut up - and reminded me that we weren't nearly there yet.'
Brooky closed out with a final round 66 and won the title by five shots. She's now hoping that title number three won't take quite so long to come round. But she certainly won't be visiting any fortune tellers in the future, and she has learned to believe in herself - never mind what anyone else says.
She also managed to make the victory speech without a hitch - the last demon had been blown away. For Brooky, the win was the perfect send-off to next week's $3 million US Open, the biggest event in the women's game. She took a gamble on trying to qualify - she went over for the one-day, 36-hole qualifying three weeks ago and claimed one of the two available places - now she would like nothing better than to put up a good show and prove that she has taken another step towards the top of the game
|| 25 - JUNE 2002