I’ve got a note in my phone with the timestamp 9th March 2022, 23.54.
Something formed that late is already a sign…. A sign that I’m not settled. After a couple of paragraphs, I had written the following:
“I love winning. I love being in contention. I love the adrenaline that comes from those things, and the stress of trying not to be stressed by it all.”
I’m writing this blog, here, now, almost exactly two months later, having won again. I was right – experiencing those things again was a captivating reminder of the ultimate highs that come in this sport.
But I could have turned that note then and there into a blog, and it would have been nothing to do with winning – and everything to do with why I went on to do exactly that.
For the sake of context, the 9th March was the week after the first Epson event of the year, in which I missed the cut. Not exactly time to press the panic butting after one event – and even missing the cut in the second event the following week wouldn’t have been a sign that everything was wrong. But the seeds that had been sown in that note had grown their roots in uncomfortably quick time, wrapping themselves around every thought and decision I made, squeezing every doubt into a blur of intuition. The over-thinker and over-complicater in me that is a daily battle to contain and calculate was finally making a point worth listening to. I wasn’t where I was supposed to be.
I drove to LAX after an LPGA Monday qualifier, barely aware that I’d actually changed my flight at some point over that weekend. It was like inhabiting some other version of myself – letting my instincts take the reins while the battling, argumentative, doubtful, conscious part of my brain sat in the passenger seat, strapped in too tightly to sway the stranger driving.
Funnily enough, that’s exactly what winning feels like too.
But on that drive, suddenly, finally, I felt free.
All I was doing was navigating LA traffic and yet for the first time since before the season started, I felt bursts of inspiration that I’d had to look really hard to realise had gone missing.
People will tell you that success isn’t about inspiration. Success is about discipline. Doing what you need to do even when you don’t feel like doing it. That truth is one of the things that nearly kept me in America, battling 40mph winds in the mountains of Utah, instead of lifting a trophy in Australia. But success is also about intuition. Here’s what else I wrote in that note on the 9th March:
“I fell in love with this sport for a reason. I fell in love with it because I’m addicted to the process of getting better. And for the first time I feel like that addiction has gone missing. It’s not a case of riding the waves of inspiration and motivation – it’s about recognising what your ingredients are for success. Mine has always been an addiction; an insatiable need for better. The blurry space between where we are and where we think our potential might be – that comes into crystal clear focus with despairing irregularity. I’m not living in that space while I’m here, doing this.”
Not everyone has the need to be as introspective as I am (and for that, I’m envious). People will tell you that if you’re good enough, you’ll find a way. That may well be true. There will always be pros and cons of playing in different parts of the world, on different tours and with different goals. But goals and processes are fluid in this sport, and I think you have to be ok with that. The bit people will often fail to tell you, when they discuss the benefits of being near your coaches or your loved ones, or financial security, or being motivated by world rankings and majors, is the piece that brought you here in the first place. The bigger picture can only be seen when you understand what makes you good at what you do – what makes you love what you do.
That’s what makes all the other bits fall into place.
That’s what creates the moments you play for.
That’s why I came home.