Golf's most prestigious tournament, the Masters, begins April 7. Golfing great Sergio Garcia, who has amassed 18 international victories and eight PGA Tour victories, has played in the last 17 Masters, making the cut 12 times.
On the verge of his 18th Masters, Garcia talked about his preparation for the Masters on Adidas' new podcast series, "Extraordinary Happens," which targets business professionals with a passion for sports. Garcia sums it up this way:
Obviously it is a major, it is the Masters, and you want to do really well. But at the same time you still have to prepare very similar to how you prepare for any other tournament. Because if you've done well in other tournaments, preparing normally, why should you change everything for this one? So I think taking it as normal as possible. But with the context, it's not that easy, because it is a major and it is the Masters. And you always want to try a little bit extra hard. But at the end of day it just comes down to the same thing: To be able to hit the shots when it matters and to make a couple putts at right time. And you've done that throughout your career in other tournaments. So it shouldn't be different.
Garcia's advice echoes what trainers and coaches--in both sports and business--generally emphasize, when it comes to preparation for a major moment: If you successfully rehearse and prepare with big-day intensity as a norm, then there'll be no need to alter your habits in advance of a huge event. (Not coincidentally, superstar NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers, too, has stressed the importance of practicing under game-like circumstances, to the point of intentionally leaving your comfort zone.)
The podcast with Garcia was the eighth in Adidas' "Extraordinary Happens" series. Previous guests have included Rodgers, Super Bowl MVP Von Miller, and Snoop Dogg. Host Mark King, president of Adidas North America, has said that he wants the podcasts to focus on athletes and entertainers with "stories of challenging convention, trying things when others said they couldn't and making extraordinary things happen."
You might be wondering how Garcia has challenged convention in his life. One way is with his unorthodox swing. While many golf teachers have advised Garcia to change his swing, Garcia--at the advice of his father, who was also a golf pro--stayed true to himself. "That doesn't mean we haven't worked on it," he told King. "To make it more consistent. But [the distinct nature of my swing] is always going to be there. That's what makes me a little extra special and gives me an edge sometimes."
Specifically, Garcia's swing has a lot of "lag" to it. In this clip of him playing from a few days ago, you can hear the announcers talking about how Garcia's dad taught him to swing as if he were "pulling a chain."
In the story of Garcia's swing--and how he's stayed true to it, despite criticism about its idiosyncrasies--you can find a metaphor for authenticity: That is, the art of staying true to yourself. Jim Whitehurst, the president of Red Hat, has written on Inc.com about how important this is for leaders. "Too many people let their insecurities get in the way of becoming good leaders," he writes. "They worry about looking vulnerable or measuring up to someone else's ideal."
Garcia is not one of those people. That's why legions of fans will be rooting for him at the Masters over the next few days.