“I was just so nervous, I couldn’t even see it” – Padraig Harrington, Brookline, 1999.

Every amateur golfer knows the feeling. You stroll to the first tee and attempt to look casual in front of your playing partners. Your body language is studied cool. But inside your heart is heavy and your thinking is muddled.

Once every two years, the pros get this feeling too.

“My hands were shaking and my eyes glazed over” – Lee Westwood, Valderrama, 1997.

On Friday we get to watch The Most Intimidating Shot In Golf. The first tee at the Ryder Cup.

“I still wake up with wee shivers” – Paul Lawrie, Brookline, 1999.

In a way, it’s gratifying that the world’s top golfers feel the same nerves as the rest of us. It makes us feel a bit better about our own opening shot wobbles.

Of course, the stakes are a lot higher at the Ryder Cup. Because if you splash into a pond, as Tiger did in 2006 at the K Club, your first tee shame is witnessed by a global TV audience of hundreds of millions.

“I’m sh***ing myself” – Bernhard Langer to Ronan Rafferty, The Belfry, 1989.

Yes, the pros are mere mortals after all.

Every day during the Ryder Cup, Tony Wrighton writes a column on pressure for Golf Monthly. He is a presenter on Sky Sports’ Golfing World and Sky Sports News and has written a number of best-selling books on self development and NLP techniques.


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