Originally published June 13, 2003
Whenever someone does something really big in sports for the first time -- whether it's the Stanley Cup or the French Open -- everyone wants to know how it feels.
Most of the time the person says it hasn't sunk in yet, or something along those lines. Having won the Masters, I understand why.
Things happen so fast and the intensity of the moment is so great, it's hard to remember your name, let alone describe what it's like having your dream come true, or what it means to you.
Well, it's been nearly two months since that amazing day at Augusta, and I guess it has finally sunk in that I am a Masters Champion. Hearing that on the first tee Thursday at the U.S. Open will be a thrill.
Winning hasn't changed me, but it has changed things. From a golfing perspective I can feel the difference as I get ready to play in my first major championship as a major champion.
In other years I would come to the U.S. Open, play my practice rounds, talk to reporters down from Canada and from Utah and maybe a few others, and otherwise go about my business.
This year I'm on the cover of Golf Magazine, I have a press conference today and there's just generally more demands on my time. It's a good problem to have, but I'm glad I'm having it as a 33-year-old with 10 years as a professional under my belt. If this had all happened when I was younger, it might have been harder to handle.
But the most important difference is not so much how the public perceives me and my golf game, it's how I perceive myself.
The biggest question professional golfers face is how they will stand up under pressure. We can all hit the ball far, wedge it close and putt well, otherwise we wouldn't be out here.
What's important to me is not only that I won the Masters, but how I won the Masters. On the last few holes the only person that could affect me winning the tournaments was me, and I had no margin for error. Winning under the most extreme pressure gives me a sense of confidence that I don't think anyone can take away from me.
It's hard to tell how that will affect me this week at Olympia Fields.
Right now I have an almost no-pressure feeling. I don't feel the heat of my own or other people's expectations because it's been such a great year already. Hopefully that means I can just go out and play freely.
That's probably what Tiger feels like. He's accomplished so much that he is probably just out there playing and competing for his own goals and doesn't have to worry about what anyone else thinks As a result, he plays even better.
Hopefully the same thing happens to me. I noticed it the other week at the Memorial. I didn't really play very well the first three days, but I never got frustrated like I might have in other years.
I was much more patient with myself. I knew things would come together, that it was just a matter of time. That's exactly what happened on Sunday, and I made a bunch of birdies and ended up in third place. In other years I might have pressed too much and ended up 20th.
I don't think complacency will be a problem. I've never been a guy to enter a tournament just to get my 20 events in, it's just not my nature. If I'm going to play, I'm going to win.
In other years, three wins, with one of them a major, might be enough to earn player of the year, but already Tiger and Davis (Love III) have won three times, and Ernie (Els), Vijay (Singh) and Kenny Perry have won twice, so there's a lot of guys who have a shot to be player of the year.
Hey, winning the Grand Slam (sweeping all four majors in one year) would probably lock it up. Can I do it? It's a long shot, but I never say never.
Besides, I'm never satisfied. I don't think I ever will be. Just the other week I was out working with my coach, Mike Wilson, tweaking a few things, trying to get everything just right.
The Masters was as good as I've ever been mentally and obviously with my putting and short game, but it was nowhere close to my potential for ball-striking. I still don't think I've ever had everything jelling at once for an entire tournament, so that's something to shoot for.
I might be a major champion, but to me the most exciting thing is that there's a lot of room for improvement.
Stay tuned. The best is yet to come.
Article written by Mike Weir, PGA golfer