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A shocking front-running approach by this tour pro: 'If I don't win, I don't care'

March 20, 2021
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Hector Vivas

Roberto Diaz hits a shot duringf the 2020 Mayakoba Classic.

It’s a psychological ploy that any disconsolate golfer can relate. Call it self-preservation. When things get tough on the course, just stop caring. It lessens the pain, takes the edge off and maybe—just maybe—it frees up the mind for more satisfying results.

Korn Ferry Tour pro Roberto Diaz is taking that “I-don-give-a-crap” philosophy to a new level. On Saturday in Broussard, La., after a seven-under-par 64 vaulted him into a two-shot lead in the Chitimacha Louisiana Open, the 34-year-old Mexican had a fairly stunning assessment of what his Sunday might look like, considering he hasn’t notched a victory (with three runners-up) in 112 career starts on the Korn Ferry.

“If I don’t win, I don’t care,” Diaz said. “I’m going to be honest. If I don’t win, I’m going to wake up Monday feeling the same way.”

Uh, well, maybe if he loses. If he wins, he’s not convincing anybody that it will be like any other day.

Diaz has come to the approach, however, because he simply couldn’t stand living with himself the way he handled the pressure before.

“I’ve always been so precise,” Diaz said. “I put so much pressure on myself that I never performed to the level I could. I’ve always felt nervous. The last three days I never had an ounce of nerves standing over the tee. I’m enjoying it. … I think I’m understanding that this is just a game.”

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Keyur Khamar

Abraham Ancer (right) poses with his friend and caddie Roberto Diaz following the third round of the 2021 WGC-Workday Championship.

One key experience changed his attitude. Diaz volunteered to caddie for his good friend, countryman and San Antonio neighbor Abraham Ancer for last month’s WGC-Workday Championship at The Concession, when Ancer’s regular caddie wasn’t available. The previous week, Diaz finished T-14 in a Korn Ferry event and Ancer admitted that his buddy beats him fairly regularly at home. The two had a blast in the WGC and Ancer had a nice showing, tying for 18th.

“Caddieing for Abe really helped me out,” Diaz said. “That week was more helpful than I thought. I see a lot of the joy when he plays. And it got me to realize that he’s just playing golf. When I’m at home, that’s how I play. I play with my friends, make jokes and give them crap. I think that’s what I do best. That’s how I play my best. … In tournaments, everything is so serious.”

This is Diaz’s first start since the experience with Ancer. He said he also experienced a life-changing addition recently with the arrival of his first child, a son.

“I’m happy with where I’m at,” he said. “I have a great group of guys around me. My wife is awesome. It’s going great, and if I don’t win, that baby is going to wake up on Monday, smiling the same way he did today.”

Díaz, who played the PGA Tour in 2018 and once shot 62 in the opening round of the John Deere Classic, stands at 15 under through three rounds in Louisiana. He’s two stokes better than Peter Uihlein, the former U.S. Amateu champ who is trying to win his second career Korn Ferry title and first since 2017.