Pros play mind games with themselves, and I’m no exception. After I stretch and warm up my body, I start my pre-round practice with a long club rather than a wedge. The 3-iron is about the hardest club in the bag for me to hit, so I swing it first, at a moderate speed. 

If I flub a shot or two, well, no big deal. It’s supposed to be a more difficult club. But if I hit it dead flush right off the bat, my confidence is heightened. I think, I’ve got it today! 

There’s also a physical aspect. Swinging a longer club a few times creates my rhythm for the day. My swing is stretched out. Most people take a short club first and make abbreviated swings. 

I use the same approach on the putting green. I like to hit long putts first and end with short ones. The long putts free up my stroke and give me a better sense for the pace of the greens that day. 

I played with Spain’s Alvaro Quiros in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in February 2010 and got a good look at the longest hitter on the European tour (he averaged 314.5 yards off the tee in 2009). I was long in my day, but not like him. We competed on the same course, but he chose some very different directions on the doglegs. He’ll learn to get shorter to minimize his risk off the tee. Only 27, he’s got a good chance of becoming a star.