SOUTHAMPTON, NEW YORK | First, the scenario and then the question. You’re coming to the end of your second round at the US Open. The cut is of no concern because you are so close to the leader you could almost touch him. Just two holes remain and if you birdie one of them you’ll be in the heart of the action in Saturday’s third round.
Except that you lose concentration and three-putt one hole and drop another stroke at the last. Or you blade a bunker shot on your 17th hole, run up a triple bogey and, shaken, you drop another at the last.
The question therefore is: What is the appropriate response to such mistakes?
Justin Rose knows. “A bogey, bogey finish was frustrating,” Rose said, referring to the way he had slipped from three to five behind Dustin Johnson, the leader after 36 holes. “But I will re-evaluate tonight, look at my position and think I am in a great spot going in to the weekend. It was job done for the first two days. This was a great start. I am very happy with the position I am in.”
Ian Poulter, who was within two strokes of Dustin Johnson, the leader, with two holes remaining and finished five strokes behind, knows too.
He was angry after squandering four strokes over his last two holes but soon rationalised it. “It’s easy to … chew it over,” Poulter said. “I felt stupid out there, knifing the first shot. I felt even more stupid semi-chunking the next and I didn’t do much better with the one after that either.
“But the best outcome for me is to put it out of my mind. I’m tied fourth. I feel confident about my game. I just need to make sure I don’t make any silly little mistakes.”
Now that is how you handle adversity as demonstrated by messrs Rose and Poulter, two redoubtable Englishmen.