Winning mentality: The play-off
Over the next few months we are going to discuss the details of winning with some of our Pro friends and it starts today with Paul Streeter who won Rookie of the Year in his first year on the Seniors Tour.
Bunker ambassador Paul Streeter knows a thing or two about what it takes to prevail in extra holes
I think most pros would agree that sudden death is the best format for a play-off, you’ve just played 72 holes to try and find a winner and sudden death then adds some drama and excitement. Plus it can take a few extra holes anyway.
As a pro I’ve been in three play-offs and have thankfully managed to come through in each of them. The best known would be in Benidorm when I beat Miguel Angel Jimenez in 2018 on what is now the Legends Tour.
There were definitely some nerves coming down the last few holes, you know that if you have a big score then you’ve had it and it could drop you down a few spots and, in Spain, I was leading by a shot coming up the 18th which was playing the hardest hole. I made a bogey and so it was extra holes with Miguel.
I was the last off the course whereas he was a few groups in front of me so I signed my card and off we went. We took the bag off the trolley to get on the buggy, drove back to the 18th, shook hands, flicked a coin and we were away. If I’d have had to sit and wait half an hour then I would have been more nervous but the way that it happened it was all quite quick.
He had won two senior majors that year and I was a rookie so I had nothing to lose. I found the fairway with a 3-wood and hit an 8-iron to three feet which was one of the best shots of my career. The back pin was in a nightmare spot and his 15-footer across the green still trickled five foot past so I hoped that I might have two putts from close range. That three-footer was probably the most nervous I was as it was one that you shouldn’t miss but I managed to knock it in.
He congratulated me and was very magnanimous in defeat and it is amazing to be able to say that I beat Miguel, someone who has played over 700 times on the European Tour and won more times than anyone after reaching 40, in a play-off.
In 2008 I won on the EuroPro Tour at Worsley Park when I beat Graham Rankin. I was in a great frame of mind as I shot one under on the first day and was in danger of missing the cut but I then shot 61 in the second round, holing putts from 40 feet with six foot of break. In the third round I did the same thing and I remember the commentator saying ‘he doesn’t even look embarrassed about it’ and I holed a 10-footer at the last to force a play-off after shooting five under. I then managed another birdie at the par-5 18th so that was a great win after that first round.
Then last year I was back playing in the regional events as we couldn’t travel out on tour and I came up against Adam Keogh, who’s a very good player, in the Lincolnshire Pros Championship at Gainsborough. It was pretty funny as both our batteries packed in after the 36 holes so we both had to push our trolleys down the first extra hole. This time I hit a 3-wood and 7-iron to close range so that was another good win.