I learned a long time ago that when you're 2 down with two holes
to go, you've got four opportunities to win: There are two holes
left for you to hit good shots, and two for your opponent to hit
bad ones. Match play is not like stroke play.
Having control--over your game, over your emotions and,
ultimately, over your opponent--is critical in match play. I
would never let a guy think that a good bounce, or a lucky shot,
for him was going to bother me in the least. Control begins on
the 1st tee. I've got big, strong hands, and I liked to start a
match with a very firm handshake and a straight-in-the-eye look.
Even today, in playoffs on the Senior tour, I still do it that
I would talk to guys a bit while we played, but not much. I
didn't want them to figure me out. There was always a little
mystique with my being older, and I didn't want to lose that. As
for gamesmanship, I've seen guys who try to get the glare up
under your hat by wearing really white shoes or guys who get in
your line of vision by standing a little ahead of you while
you're hitting. If you ask me, the best way to keep the pressure
on your opponent is by driving it in the fairway, which is one
of my strengths. This is especially important after you've made
a birdie. You've got the momentum--keep it.
I don't think I'm too nice a guy, but I would give putts,
particularly after my opponent hit a really good shot and I hit
a really lucky one. He should've won the hole. You don't want to
win on a lucky shot, so I'd give him the putt. It blew the guy's
mind, usually. But that, too, shows your opponent that you're in
control. Beyond telling him you're confident that you will win
the match, it tells him you're going to win it on your terms.
March 8, 1999
Jay Sigel won two U.S. Amateurs and three Mid-Amateurs.