Jordan Spieth arrived at the 18th hole on Sunday one stroke behind Patrick Reed and in need of a birdie to try to force a playoff in the Masters.
Was he nervous? Cotton mouthed? Struggling to breathe?
How about completely oblivious?
It turns out Spieth didn't look at a leader board on Sunday until after he holed out for bogey and a 64 at Augusta National, which means he has was unaware of how close he came to completing the most improbable comeback in Masters history.
"That was my plan going in," Spieth said. "I'm nine back. Go out and just have fun. Don't worry about the golf tournament itself, worry about playing Augusta National."
It is not unheard of for a golfer like Spieth to avoid tracking other players' scores through a round so he can focus solely on the next shot. On one level, the strategy makes sense because the obstacles in front of you don't change whether you're 10 back or one ahead.
But when you compare that strategy to other sports, it borders on malpractice. Imagine a hockey team down a goal but not knowing that it needs to pull a goalie in the last minute. Or a basketball team unaware it needs to foul to get the ball for a last shot. Think about a football team throwing the ball into the middle of the field when it was tightly nursing a lead in the last minute; or a marathoner passively letting runners pass from behind down the stretch because "they were only worried about the course."
You get the point. Only in golf could a competitor shut himself off from his surroundings so defiantly, and then seeing it almost work. Because that's the other part to consider. As much as one could question whether Spieth might have benefited knowing where he stood late on Sunday, it's quite possible knowing would have introduced a new internal monologue that might have only been counterproductive.
"When I finished and I looked at the board I could have been in the lead by two and I could have been down four," Spieth said. "And neither one would have surprised me."