Kyle Stanley's Epic Meltdown: My Thoughts

Far be it from me to talk about blowing a 5 shot lead in the final round of a tournament, because that’s precisely what I did in my 2011 Club Championship. But things like that are expected from most of us mere golfing mortals from time to time, although I will say that it took a number of days, weeks, and months to fully recover emotionally. What’s that old adage that goes something like, “the things that don’t kill you make you stronger”? Obviously whoever came up with that thought never lost a major championship by virtue of 3-putting the last hole of the tournament (Scott Hoch, 1989 Masters), or take 6 strokes to finish a hole from 70 yards to lose your first PGA Tour event and about $450,000 (Kyle Stanley, last Sunday), or blow a 5 shot lead heading into the final round of a Club Championship and finish 3rd (yours truly, last summer). At least the first two victims above came away with some form of a handsome payout…. yours truly got a dozen golf balls that he would lose in the woods the following week.

Certainly, these things won’t kill you, but for golfers – they sure as hell don’t make them any stronger. Why? I’ll quote a dear friend of mine who is an accomplished teaching professional in Long Island in answering that. “Bad golfers remember only their good shots, and good golfers only remember their bad shots.” Tis true…. ideally we’d have a button on the side of our noggins that we could press to automatically and permanently delete the past 4-5 hours of memory from our lives. Can you think of the number of marriages this feature would save?  Wife: “Where were you last night at 2:00 a.m.?” Husband: “Honey, I honestly can’t remember.” Of course, the husband is still going to catch 9 kinds of hell, but at least he wouldn’t be lying and then get caught in that lie, then receive 18 kinds of hell and certified letters from a divorce attorney. But if there’s one thing that golfers suffer from much too often, it’s having too good of a memory when there was really nothing worth remembering in the first place.

Which brings me to my point:

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If history holds true, it will take Kyle Stanley a long time to overcome what happened on Sunday at the Farmers. I mean, you have to realize that opportunities to win on the PGA Tour are very, very rare instances…. not just in a single season, but in some cases many seasons. As great as Tiger Woods was during his prime, going all the way back to that 1997 Masters up until the fall of 2009, he still lost a whopping 66% of the time. Think about that… in any other sport we would deem that unacceptable, but if you can win 33% of the time in Golf – you’re the greatest player in history. But back during that time in his career, prior to the whole Escalade, fire hydrant, cellphone text thingy, there wasn’t a player on the planet who had as good of a selective memory than Tiger Woods had. While most average Touring pros like Scott Hoch and Jean Van de Velde had troubles forgetting about bad history, Tiger had that button that he would just push. If he didn’t play well, which granted back then wasn’t very often, he forgot about it. Now unfortunately for Tiger he’s misplaced that button somewhere over the past 2 years, but still… there’s so much good, positive memory to draw from – it’s just a matter of time before he figures things out again. But for Kyle Stanley – that’s gonna take a while.

New Caddie, Maybe?

Not that I’m familiar with their relationship or their business agreement, but if I was Kyle Stanley – I would consider finding a new looper. I’m sorry, but your guy is 70 yards and 5 shots away from a monumental moment in his life, something he’s worked diligently for over a number of years… I mean – we’re talking childhood dreams on the verge of being realized, a life-changing moment. YOUR GOAL IS TO GET YOUR PLAYER IN THE HOUSE. If that means giving him a pitching wedge and telling him to take dead-aim at the lady in the blue blouse in the grandstand behind the green, WHICH IS ALSO WELL BEYOND THE WATER, that’s what you do. The last thing you do is allow your player to bring water into play in that situation…. I can think of about half a dozen better places that Kyle Stanley’s 3rd shot could’ve ended up, without being on the green, that would’ve easily given him his first big trophy. The minute your player’s ball goes into the water in that situation – you’re asking for trouble. I mean, think about it…. he could’ve played the last 5 shots much, much uglier and still come away the winner. But nah, both Stanley and his caddie wanted to go out with a bang, and instead they went out with a splash.

Say what you will about the 2 playoff holes, how Snedeker came up clutch in the end, whatever… but the bottom line is that Sneds had no business being in a playoff to begin with. Kyle Stanley wasn’t thinking clearly on the 72nd hole and his caddie had an opportunity to change his career in the span of 30 seconds, but didn’t. As The Donald would say, Yuwa Fihud.

I really like this kid, and anyone, even at our level, who has ever had an opportunity to achieve something significant in golf, be it winning a Club Championship, breaking 80, or making however many pars in a row, or whatever….they know what it feels like to come up short, and they can relate to what this kid went through Sunday afternoon. We all feel badly for him. But it will leave a mark. It’s supposed to sting, it’s supposed to remind him of what he needs to correct. But things like this are never easy to bounce back from, unless, of course, you have that delete button. Does Kyle Stanley have a delete button? We’ll see as the season plays out. But the odds are very much against him winning for a while.

I hope I’m wrong.




One Comment

  1. Great piece, just a few thoughts…
    1. regarding the “forget button, I remember hearing a story from some years back when Jack cold shanked a shot during a round. He was asked about it in the press conference aftewrward and his response was “I do not recall hitting that shot” and he was dead serious. He had totally put it from his mind, never to be discussed again.

    2. As for comebacks after huge meltdowns, you cite excellent examples of failure. For a prime examle of the reverse, see Rory McIlroy; 2011 US Open…

    3. Regarding the caddie, you are spot on.

    4. Regarding you losing a dozen balls in a week; did you even lose a dozen balls all of last season? :o)

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