I find joy in lacing up the cleats, lining up and looking across at some of the best athletes in the world. I love competing, and if you've followed my career at all, then you know how much I'm driven by being the best. But you know what, if I'm being honest, I think my internal expectations have pushed me more than the competition. My own self-belief elevates my expectations beyond what the outside world has for me. That's at the foundation of what's gotten me to this stage.
For as far as that mentality's gotten me on the field, I admit that it's bitten me in the butt on the golf course at times. Over the years, I've probably had too high of expectations when I tee it up. As I've gotten a little older, I've realized a few things and gotten a little wiser.
You do everything you can to beat back Father Time and prove you can still perform at the highest level. Developments over the last couple of decades have made that more of a reality. There are ways to turn back the clock with what you eat, the ways you work out, how you train both your mind and body. All those little advantages from research and science taught me to have a renewed understanding of expectations.
Higher expectations for the things you prepare for and realistic expectations for the things you spend less time doing. As much as I love golf, and I love golf – if you look at my search history on Instagram, it's a rabbit hole of swings and golf tips – I don't get to prepare the way I'd need to shoot even par. But that doesn't stop me from giving it my all every time I play and always striving to get better.
That's one of the things I admire about the TaylorMade brand. Besides the fact that the company was founded in the great state of Wisconsin, it's that commitment to being the best and never settling for the status quo – it's that belief that you can always do better, then doing the work to go out and actually achieve it. I have a friend who works in R&D for the company, and it blows my mind the amount of research, testing and development that goes into making a single club.
There's a reason that all the big names like Tiger, Rory, DJ and Collin are a part of Team TaylorMade. They could go anywhere, but they choose TaylorMade because the equipment and the people offer a competitive advantage. I've gotten to experience that firsthand.
Another thing I've noticed, those dudes are just wired differently. There's a certain level of mental strength that's needed to play any sport at the highest level. Comparing it to the NFL, you're relying on so many other people. You're doing your very best and trusting in your teammates to do the same – and I've been lucky throughout my career to play with some of the sharpest and hardest working athletes to grace the gridiron. But in golf, there's no one to look at but yourself. That requires a different mentality, a different path for motivating yourself to be the best and beat the best.
To be at the top of any sport requires an insane amount of focus, discipline and sacrifice. All great athletes, quarterbacks and golfers alike, have made tiny sacrifices and made the hard decisions to put themselves in position to be the best. The results show up on Sunday.
Watching and getting to know the guys on Team TaylorMade got me thinking. If I could take skills and make myself into the perfect golfer, it would start with Rory McIlroy's driver swing. There's nobody who hits it higher, farther and straighter when he's on his A-game. I love DJ's mentality; he's so carefree out there. I know he cares about it deeply, but his ability to stay loose in the big moments is unhuman. Then throw in Collin's accuracy. I have a close friend who plays on Tour, who also went to Cal, who described Collin's iron play perfectly. He told me if you take an everyday Tour player's average proximity to the hole with a pitching wedge, that's basically Collin's proximity with a mid- to long-iron. Give me that all day.
And then obviously there's Tiger Woods. He's the reason so many of us got into the game. One of those transcendent athletes, the type of player who makes you remember where you were when he accomplished certain things. 2008 at Torrey Pines, both the first time and last time he won at Augusta. Give me his putting stroke and ability to hit clutch shots.
Having all those guys says a lot about the TaylorMade brand. So, to officially be a part of that team adds a little bit more to my already strong self-belief.
FUN GOLF FACTS ABOUT MY GOLF GAME
Favorite Club in the Bag
Fade or Draw?
Dream Course (I Haven't Played)
Jerry Kelly or Steve Stricker?
Kelly. Sorry, Stricks.
Number of Hole in Ones
I have one hole in one, and it happened on No. 6 at Canyon Oaks two months after we won the Super Bowl. It was a 6-iron from 174. I played with three of my high school best friends, and it could not have been a happier moment.
Pat Tillman, Graham Hancock, JFK
- • SIM2 Driver 9° (Ventus Black 7x)
- • SIM2 Max 3wd 15° (Ventus Black 7x)
- • SIM UDI 2 iron (Ventus Hybrid 9x)
- • P•770 Irons 4-PW (Project X 6.5)
- • Milled Grind 2 Wedges (52°, 56° & 60°)
- • Spider Tour Limited Putter