When Ben Silverman arrived in his hotel room at Great Abaco, Bahamas, he set about placing sticky notes on the walls and mirrors with goals and affirmations.
"Some of them were 'be present,' 'control the controllables,' 'act the way I want to feel,' 'confidence is a choice,' 'fear is fuel,' 'turn anxiety into excitement,' and a few others," said Silverman. "Then I also found about six or seven of them, surprise notes, throughout my luggage and suitcase that my wife Morgan wrote.
"So anytime I was pulling out stuff to use, I'd find a new note from her as well."
Silverman's aphorisms are part of his ongoing program of improving the mental side of his golf game. They paid off last week when he won The Bahamas Great Abaco Classic, the second event of the Korn Ferry Tour season, in a playoff with American Cody Blick.
The native of Thornhill, Ont., won the Price Cutter Charity Championship in 2017, which led to two full seasons on the PGA Tour before returning to the second-tier Korn Ferry Tour in 2020-21.
"I realized one of the reasons why I lost my card on the PGA Tour was because once I was out there, I was pretty happy to be out there," said Silverman, "I didn't quite work as hard at my game to the same level as I did to earn my PGA Tour card.
"It wasn't until maybe 2022, just looking back on things, did I realize what happened."
Silverman said he rededicated himself physically and mentally to his game. That meant working with trainer Ken Macdonald on his explosiveness, fast-twitch muscles, and his power off the tee.
It also meant more time with coach Jeff Leishman, working on sequencing for gaining more speed, shot selection strategy, and different hole locations for different wind conditions.
"I've been really working hard on the mental side of things because my mind just wasn't where I wanted it to be on the golf course," said the 35-year-old Silverman. "So I'm working on my routine, and I've had a number of different things that have been helping, including talking to my wife but listening to some motivational people on their podcasts."
Pro Football Hall of Famer Kurt Warner, former all-star first baseman Sean Casey, and mental performance coach Brian Cain are just some of the podcasters Silverman now listens to regularly.
Silverman's hard work paid off last week, two-putting up the slope on No. 18 at The Abaco Club on Winding Bay to beat Blick in the one-hole playoff. Silverman said winning early in the season was "amazing."
"Even if it wasn't a win, I was going into this week just thinking even a start this early in the season was incredible," said Silverman, who had a sponsor's exemption for the event. "Because I didn't get past the second stage of Q-school this fall, even though I was playing well, I didn't have any guaranteed starts to start the season.
"It was a massive, massive opportunity because making the cut I have a chance to reshuffle and then have a season. Last year I didn't get my first start on the Korn Ferry Tour until April and that was because I Monday qualified for that one."
He'll get another massive opportunity this week.
Steve John, the CEO and tournament director of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, called Silverman the day after winning in the Bahamas, inviting the Canadian to play in the US$9 million event which tees off on Thursday.
Silverman joins fellow Canadians Michael Gligic of Burlington, Ont., Taylor Pendrith of Richmond Hill, Ont., and Nick Taylor of Abbotsford, B.C., in the field.
KORN FERRY TOUR — Edmonton's Wil Bateman is the highest ranked Canadian at The Panama Championship this week. He's tied for 12th on the second-tier tour's points list. Roger Sloan of Merritt, B.C., and Toronto's Richard Jung are also in the field at Club de Golf de Panama in Panama City.
AUGUSTA NATIONAL WOMEN'S AMATEUR — Monet Chun of Richmond Hill, Ont., received an invite on Saturday to play in the Augusta National Women's Amateur. The prestigious event at one of golf's most historic courses is scheduled March 30-April 1. Chun won the Canadian women's amateur championship and the Big Ten Championship in 2022.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 1, 2023.
John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press