To say athletes are a little superstitious would be a severe understatement. Athletes are notoriously interested in “things they don’t understand.” They range from the tame to the utterly insane. They involve eating particular foods and writing words in the dirt, wearing articles of clothing more than once and using the same bathroom stall.
Golfers are no different. They all seem to have their own unique quirk that they believe helps them win. Except for Stewart Cink, who avoids superstition at all costs because it brings him bad luck. Which is a superstition in and of itself, right?
Good or bad, luck is lucky. And, here are the top five golfer superstitions:
5. Chi Chi Rodriguez’s Coin Markers
Chi Chi Rodriguez is one of the game’s greatest characters, so it’s no surprise that he’s also very superstitious. Among other superstitions, Rodriguez uses a quarter to mark his birdie putts, a buffalo nickel for eagle putts and if he isn’t finding luck there, Rodriguez will switch to a gold coin. Asked about his superstitions: “I don’t open the umbrella in my room, I don’t put my hat on the bed, I don’t mark my ball with a dowel,” Rodriguez told aboutsports.com. “Those are all superstitions. People say, ‘Well why are you that way?’ I say, ‘I havent done too bad.'”
4. Masters Par 3 Champion’s Curse
Since the Masters introduced the Wednesday afternoon par-3 contest, no one who has won that event has gone on to win the Masters the same week. Because of this, players who are in contention have been known to tank on purpose with the goal of remaining in the hunt to win the Masters. Some believe it’s an “old wives tale,” but there is some staggering evidence to back it up. After winning the par-3 contest, Raymond Floyd lost the Masters to Nick Faldo in a dramatic playoff in 1990 and Ben Crenshaw blew a 54-hole lead to continue the streak in 1987. But hey, judge for yourself.
3. Ernie Els’ Birdie Ball
In a superstition very reminiscent of San Francisco Giants legend Orlando Cepeda, Ernie Els discards golf balls that he has made birdie with because he believes that the “good score” has been used up. Cepeda used to throw away a bat once he got a hit with it. Last year on the PGA Tour, Els made 259 birdies or better — meaning he tossed out 21 1/2 dozen golf balls.
2. Jack Nicklaus
Even the greatest golfer who ever lived has superstition to thank, at least a little bit, for his illustrious career. To this day, Jack Nicklaus won’t play a round of golf without three coins in his pocket. He always has exactly three. The denomination doesn’t matter and there’s no preference — as long as there are three coins in his pocket at all times, Nicklaus is good.
1. Tiger Woods’ Sunday Red
Perhaps the most famous golf superstition belongs to Tiger Woods. Ever since he burst onto the PGA Tour, Woods has shown up on Sundays wearing a red shirt. Thanks to more than 80 tour victories, 14 major championships and 100 wins worldwide, Woods’ color choice has become known at “Victory Red.”
“I’ve worn red ever since my college days basically, or junior golf days — big events on the last day,” Woods said in a 2013 press conference. “I just stuck with it out of superstition, and it worked. I just happened to choose a school that actually was red, and we wore red on our final day of events. So it worked out.”