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Positivity is the Key to Winning at Any Level

Written by Charlie Epps on 01 December 2009.

It's funny how one little sentence or small thought can do so much. We all know the power of positive thought can do a lot in keeping things going the right direction. But at the same time, as Jack Nicklaus once told me, "You've got to be realistic with the existing conditions."

Sitting at the U.S. Open in 2008 with the defending champion, Angel Cabrera, it was apparent to me that he had lost his confidence going into his title defense. I must admit, I'm one who has read and studied a lot about personal performance. I also must admit that Dr. Bob Rotella is not only a very good friend, he's my idol. He's taught me a lot of good things about good thinking.

During lunch, I looked at Angel, and I said, "You know, if you can win the U.S. Open at Oakmont, then you can win the Masters." His response was, Como? (That means "how," in Spanish.) I told him we have to get more organized in our practice, and he said, "OK."

He missed the cut at the U.S. Open, but we didn't let that deter us from our next goal...which was improving our practice schedule, especially our putting. At this time, our teacher-student relationship was improving. He was gaining more confidence in my ability to help his game. At the same time, our personal relationship grew. He gained a confidence in trusting me—not only as a teacher, but as friend.

Angel's business partner and I sat down and devised a business program for Angel's future. I kept using Vijay Singh as our example, because in 2009, Angel turned 40, so he was entering his prime as a golfer. And everyone knows Vijay has won more titles past the age of 40 than anyone.

As we look back to the fall finish of 2008, Angel had no victories, and he was criticized by the press. What else is new?

In December 2008, I traveled to Angel's hometown—Villa Allende, Argentina—to participate in his charity tournament for his foundation, which does so much good for that community.

We reviewed the year, and I reminded him again that if he could win the U.S. Open at Oakmont, then he certainly could win the Masters. Long story short and 100 hours of putting practice in the spring of 2009 later, I was witness to a poor kid from Argentina winning his second major championship, the 2009 Masters. Watching him don the Green Jacket was something I'll never forget.

We have to remember what Nicklaus told us: "Be realistic with your existing conditions." Very few of us can actually win the Masters. But we can keep thinking positive, stay organized and win our club championships—or the third flight of your club championship—or make your first birdie or par. We just have to cultivate the ability to think correctly.

There's more to this story, of course. I want to tell you how I won my Masters Tournament.

Stay tuned...