Players Championship

Players Championship: Tour pro practiced a must-make shot all morning. Then this happened

March 16, 2024

Mike Ehrmann

PONTE VEDRA BEACH — As the sun went down Friday at TPC Sawgrass, Ben Silverman came to the par-5 ninth hole, his last of the day, needing an eagle to make the cut at the Players Championship. Unfortunately for him, his 315-yard drive settled in the rough, forcing him to lay up to 109 yards. That's the moment when play was suspended for the night, and Silverman faced a choice: attempt the must-make shot in low light or wait to give it a try on Saturday morning. If he chose the former, he could go home or at least sleep in if he missed. The latter, and he would have better light, plus he could practice the specific shot as much as he wanted, unlikely as it was to go in.

Silverman took option No. 2, showing up early to the range at Sawgrass, and … well, it didn't quite work out how he imagined:

Still, even though he botched the shot, you have to respect Silverman's optimism. We spoke with him Wednesday morning, when the PGA Tour gathered all the Players Championship rookies (22 in all) for a media session, and Silverman spoke specifically about cultivating a positive mindset.

"A lot of it comes from what I've learned with my wife, which is thinking in a way to manifest what you want," Silverman said then. "Even so much as your wording when you're talking to yourself or talking to others, not using negatives, phrasing sentences in a way that's only positive words. When you're talking about something that's going to happen that you want to happen, whether it seems far down the road or far-fetched, or the person you're talking to doesn't believe it, you need to believe it yourself and speak in a way that it's going to happen."

The concept of Silverman making that shot was indeed far-fetched, but he lived up to his ideals in working hard for it and, seemingly, believing that it could happen. Even when planning for future tournaments, Silverman said, his wife would chide him when he would say or imply that he wouldn't be at the signature events.

"Even if you don't believe it yet, the more you embody that kind of attitude, the more you start to believe in yourself and kind of start living in a way where you believe it," he said.

And yes, this particular shot didn't go where he wanted—not even close—but Silverman, who is 36 and has been on the professional golf roller coaster for a long time (he reached the PGA Tour again this year with the help of a Korn Ferry Tour win in 2023), has persisted and reached his first ever Players this week because he never succumbed to negativity. You have to tip your cap.