Some people would argue that golf is the route to happiness…but that’s not the reason why I’m talking about it today. I want to talk about how people cope with failure. Yesterday, after leading the pack for 3 days, 21 year old Rory McIlroy succumbed to the pressure of potentially winning his first major championship and self-destructed on his final round of the Masters Golf Championship. He started the day 4 shots ahead of the rest, but finished way down the leaderboard.
I’ve always found it painful to watch when individuals and teams lose so badly, especially when they are expected to win. And I’ve always wondered how they cope with the loss. How do they explain the failure to themselves when they messed up so badly. How do they live with themselves?
At the 1996 Masters Greg Norman gave away a 5 shot lead on the final round and eventually finished 5 behind winner Nick Faldo in what is often cited as the No. 1 all time collapses in sport. But in the post-tournament press conference Norman said: “I screwed up. I know I screwed up today, but it’s not the end of the world for me. It honestly isn’t. My life is going to continue…’ He has also said since: ‘I’m a better person for it.’
How did a younger McIlroy deal with the pain?
He said: “I’ll get over it. I’ll have plenty more chances – I know that.” And later on he tweeted: “Well that wasn’t the plan! Found it tough going today, but you have to lose before you can win. This day will make me stronger in the end.”