Tom Watson came within one decision of writing the greatest sports story of all time yesterday.
That is not hyperbole. He is two months short of sixty. He has an artificial hip. And for four days he beat the best in the world. Walking.
Put it this way. The year he was born Harry Truman announced his Fair Deal program. One of his competitors was born during Bill Clinton’s Presidency.
He came within one foot of rewriting every sporting record book there is. He did so because he has extraordinary talent. Because he believed he could. Because he had a plan. Because he had done so before.
He did not, because in the heat of the moment the perspective that experience provides was not enough.
In the 18th fairway, a 4 needed to win the 'World’s Open' as Watson himself calls it, he selected an 8 iron. The wind. The hardness of the ground. All of these are variables he could only sense. There were no absolute measurements. Just experience.
As history will forever show, it was a 9 iron.
The perfectly struck 8 carried on the wind further then he intended, bounced hard and rolled over the back of the green. For a moment it looked as though the ball would stop on the fringe, but with one last agonizing roll it slipped down the slope and came to rest.
There were two shots left to be played, but a sense of the inevitable suddenly descended.
Looking back, it was easy to see the mistake. Adrenaline is a powerful chemical. And golfers the world over have seen its effect at critical moments when it suddenly provides super-human strength.
In the middle of the most demanding moment in his life, the most experienced golfer in the tournament failed to see it.
He will never forget its consequence.
Many businesses are faced with life changing situations at the moment. All or nothing decisions.
But no matter how much of it you have, experience alone will not be enough.
You must combine it with context. And perspective.
So that when everything says hit the 8, you know that what you need is a 9. The difference might be only a foot. But as Tom Watson will tell you, a foot can be a very long way.