Pressure of Winning
Did the pressure of winning cause pro golfer In-Kyung Kim to miss a one-foot putt that would have won the Kraft Nabisco Championship and her first major championship? Kim, who only had a tap in to win, could have hit this putt with her eyes closed, but performance anxiety and winning could have cause enough tension to miss her line.
Here’s the odd part about her miss: Kim made birdies on both the 16th and 17th holes and had a one-shot lead going to the 18th hole but couldn’t make a routine tap-in. She said that she was experiencing a lot of nerves on the back nine, particularly the 18, “Well, on 18, I was nervous the whole way, obviously on the Back 9, but I think I executed good shots, and I hit many good putts. And on 18, you know, I wanted to make the putt with the right speed, and I think I’ve done very well. But coming up to it I tried to take my time, and you know, same routine,” said Kim. But doing the same routine does not guarantee you’ll make the putt, especially if you tighten up just slightly at impact.
So Kim had the momentum going into the 18th hole. You’d think she was riding a confidence high. But thoughts of winning her first major champion after she makes a short putt can cause even the top athletes to feel anxious or tense. In-Kyung Kim went on to the playoffs, but couldn’t shake off the 18-hole easy miss. She was unable to focus in the moment and was hard on herself for the past mistake, “and on the playoff hole, you know, it’s just hard to kind of focus on what’s going on right now because I was still a little bit bummed what happened on 18, honestly.”
Did another top athlete choke under pressure? Did Kim tighten up at the wrong time? It’s certainly not easy trying to win your first major. Just ask Rory McIlroy. Performing under pressure can even detail best athletes in the world. In-Kyung Kim did respond with confidence knowing she will have more chances to close out the win, “It was a great experience, and sometimes you have to close to win the tournament. I don’t know, sometimes things happen, and it’s kind of tough because it’s Nabisco, and hopefully I’ll have better or more chances.”