How golf ’s BIG THREE missed a trick in Rio.

3 December 2023, Sunday



By the end of the 2015 the golfing world was alight.

Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day seemed to be fully capable of forming a tripartite domination, which was last witnessed with the sense of certainty of Palmer, Nicklaus and Player– who together raked in 34 majors.



Fast forward to the end of the 2016 Major season, and not one of the top three managed  a major win.

And all three opted out of the Rio Olympics :

American Jordan Spieth revealed that withdrawing from the Olympics was :

the hardest decision I’ve had to make in my life

But, Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy was less apologetic, saying:

I didn’t get into golf to try to grow the game; I tried to get into golf to win championships. Winning golf’s majors are more important to players than winning a gold medal “

One has to respect Rory McIlroy’s achievements and his honest, yet controversial view point, but he will do well to take heed from one of the greatest golfing legends ,whose career derailed after obsessively focusing on personal performance goals.

Tiger Wood’s stacked the odds heavily against himself by chasing the game in pursuit of Jack Nicklaus’s record tally of 18 majors. He was piling up the pressure on a road called burn out.

Chasing results – chasing the game – is seldom sustainable.

A far better way is to take heed from one of the greatest.

Nelson Mandela had a very high level game plan.

One of his goals must have been to be a free family man, and this he knew was attainable many years before his actual release, but he chose to play a much higher level game.

Nelson Mandela’s focus was first and foremost on his purpose, not his personal performance goals.

His purpose:

To create freedom for all

Purpose, far more than performance goals, is the key determinant of human greatness defined as

Sustained Success and Significance.

Sporting greats like  Jordan Spieth, Jason Day and Rory McIlroy have god given talents:

Their purpose, like any other great sporting champions can be best articulated as follows:

To Entertain, to Educate and to Enrich the lives of others through their god given talents

As in Nelson Mandela’s case, if the BIG THREE can keep their primary focus on their higher purpose, and not on their personal performance goals – they will effectively be releasing the pressure valve by living the process – not living the results .

They would know that they are effectively winning every day.

Winning then becomes easier .And winning becomes a habit.

The Big Three seem to have missed a trick in Rio.

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.    Winston Churchill


Aug 14, 2016; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Justin Rose (GBR) shows off his gold medal in a medal ceremony for men's individual golf at Olympic Golf Course during the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games. Mandatory Credit: Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports

For some, it was a case of smelling the roses in Rio  :

I was so determined to represent Team Great Britain as best as I could. It was just the most magical week, it really was. I’m bursting with pride:         Justin Rose

Whoever said Olympic Golf  didn’t mean anything must’ve been on drugs cause this is absolutely amazing. Coming to Rio, my best decision ever :              Sergio Garcia

Thanks for all the support, did not win the gold but I leave with silver and memories that will last forever! Congrats Justin!                                           Henrik Stensen


For more Insight, Innovation and Inspiration – please do get in touch


  • Rob’s latest book: The Game Changers: Good to Great to Greater is available FREE to readers as an instant digital download on his site :