For someone relatively new to the game, Patty Tavatanakit seems to have experienced golf’s rollercoaster from early on – look no further than her incredible fifth-placed finish at the US Women’s Open (as an 18-year-old amateur) in 2018 being followed by her failing to make the cut in two of her next four visits.
The 22-year-old reveals to RSNG.com that a grounded perspective and a close inner circle are at the heart of her ability to ride the waves…
RSNG Whether it’s protecting a lead going into the final round or coming back from a disappointing front nine, you seem to carry with yourself a calmness?
PATTY TAVATANAKIT, THAI GOLF SENSATION “I love playing golf and I love the people and the places, but I am quite grounded.
“I don’t let myself get too involved in the emotions, and being like that has certainly helped me, I think.”
RSNG How do you stay focused and motivated when things aren’t going well?
PATTY TAVATANAKIT “Sometimes it’s not what you do – it’s what you don’t do.
“I am quite a straightforward person – I play my golf with a smile on my face and I trust my technique because, after all, it has done quite well for me up until now.
“As I always say to people, golf is not a perfect game and I don’t believe you can ever shoot a perfect round of golf, or even a perfect hole of golf. There will always be little changes you may wish to make to your style or your technique or just your luck.
“Therefore, if you can accept some things in your game won’t go entirely according to plan, then I think you can limit the bad vibes by not making a problem worse… by not compounding a stressful situation by changing your process, or letting other elements come into play.”
RSNG Such as what?
PATTY TAVATANAKIT “Well I guess if I was to stay up late analyzing my game after a poor round, that would actually be counterproductive for me.
“At the end of any day’s golf I am tired and I just want to rest. I am a much better person in the morning and I believe anything motivational will have a much better effect on you if you absorb that information in the morning before your next round.
“My trainer and I make a point of never discussing a round just after it has finished. That really is instead the time when you want to clear the mind and let what has happened sink in slowly.”
I won’t look at any social media while I am at a tournament – I just find it too distracting and too damaging
RSNG Is that difficult to do with press and social media around, where everyone wants a reaction, or wants to talk?
PATTY TAVATANAKIT “The press thing I can take, because it is straight after the round and I am almost still in the mindset of playing – the shots are still fresh in my mind and the questions are usually quite friendly! I am much harder and more critical of myself than anyone else around me, the press included!
“I won’t look at any social media while I am at a tournament. I just find it too distracting and too damaging – I like to keep my circle tight and the only feedback or response I want is from people who know me, and whose opinion I value.”
RSNG Even when things are going well? You won’t check in on Twitter to see people celebrating your play?
PATTY TAVATANAKIT “No, not when I am at a tournament. I am not the type of person to believe the hype, but a job is never done until the end and I would much rather read up on what people are saying the next week when I am back home, or in a place where what’s being said isn’t going to get into my mind and perhaps influence the way I am playing.
“I don’t really think it would, veen if I was playing badly; but I just don’t want to take that risk, is the truth.
“I put enough challenges on myself as a golfer, without needing to bring about extra pressure from others.”
I have tried to get a lot fitter and build muscle
RSNG It’s interesting to hear you say you’ve put some of the challenges you’ve faced on yourself. What do you mean by that?
PATTY TAVATANAKIT “By that I mean work I have done away from the course. I have tried to get a lot fitter and to build muscle.
“I probably wasn’t in the best shape a couple of years ago, and that was a consequence of not really needing to be when I was growing up because I was winning tournaments quite easily.
“I always had the longest drive of anyone I was playing against, for instance, but these advantages disappear when you enter the pro game. So as a result, I have made efforts to get into really good shape, and that has changed my swing slightly and more ball-striking.
“I have started to cut shots, which is a very new thing for me, but is something I have managed to work into the way I play – but these are all self-imposed adjustments that, in the long-run, will make me a better player.
“In the short-term they are challenges though – necessary ones – and are hurdles I just need to get over.”
RSNG And you have no doubt you will?
PATTY TAVATANAKIT “No doubt. It is just all part of the process. I always want to keep the pedal down – to keep pushing, even if I find myself a few shots ahead.
“Of course there is a lot of patience you need out there, but when the opportunity comes to really push forward and exert my authority on the course, then I want to do that.
“I have the confidence to know I am gonna be able to pull it out, so I’ve got to be ready for the challenge.”
My recovery process is always to approach the next shot as if it were the first shot – every shot has to be the same
RSNG How do you recover after a bad shot?
PATTY TAVATANAKIT “My recovery process is always to rest well, recover well, and approach the next shot as if it were the first shot. Every shot has to be the same.
“This was something I learned from watching Tiger Woods as a youngster. He had that incredible ability to show almost no emotion, and you knew that after a bogey he was almost guaranteed to hit a birdie on the next hole. He has just always had it in him to recover.”
RSNG You sound like you have an especially strong head on you as well?
PATTY TAVATANAKIT “Mental health is really important for me and is something I have had to work on, to be honest, in terms of how I play a round of golf.
“When I was younger it was much easier because I obviously have some natural talent for the sport.
“When you become a pro and start on the tours you are around others who are the same, and a big part of me being successful is learning how to avoid drifting away from myself, which I have done in the past. That’s really how a round can unravel for me, more than anything else, but I am definitely on the route to overcoming that.
“You know, in competition, anyone around you has the ability to put together a sensational round of golf, so you can’t afford to lose sight of your own game, because all you are doing then is opening the door for them.”
WHAT NEXT? Find out how LPGA heavy hitter Brooke Anderson deals with high pressure situations in this RSNG.com interview….