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Bradley and Poulter: Do my eyes deceive me?
By Brian Chipper
Two of the breakout stars of this year’s Ryder Cup turned out to be Keegan Bradley for the Americans and Ian Poulter for the Europeans. While not being under the radar by any means, their stars certainly shined bright, and they did so by making an astounding amount of putts on some very slick Medinah greens.
Most would believe it to be the near perfect stroke of Ian Poulter compounded by the years of practice he has put into his game. The talking heads of the PGA Tour would lead you to believe that Keegan has the belly putter perfected.
However, after some further investigation I have found that it has more to do with their pre-shot routine and their eyes.
As a budding search engine amateur ophthalmologist, I became mesmerized by the concentration the two showed through their eyes.
As Keegan Bradley squats down two paces behind the ball you can visually see the man enter what has to be the Matrix. As he starts to tilt his head his eyes become a vacuum of information as they grow wide open.
He nods a little, but this is only his brain reminding him that he is currently in the real world and needs to translate the grid of green and black lines back to the putting green. If he is able to keep this concentration up, his confidence soars and the putts start dropping.
Seeing grids like this is uncommon, but not unheard of. This may be a similar condition of Central Serous Retinopathy, where damage to the retina can cause grids to appear in one’s sight (I wouldn’t doubt that he just is living in two different dimensions and has the ability to combine the two to improve his golf game).
Ian Poulter, after sinking his last putt on No. 18 to beat Webb Simpson, was caught staring into the camera with such intensity that his children were sure they were on their way to a grounding. Mr. Poulter has a more normal routine. Walk around the green, find a path that will give him the best opportunity to sink the putt, and then select a spot on the line to aim for.
After addressing the ball, his eyes physically bulge out of his head, a term known as exophthalmia. By doing this, his peripheral vision increases by over 40 percent, giving him nearly 180 degrees of vision. Through years of training, he has become so good at judging distances and motion in his peripheral vision that his children have quit trying to do things behind his back.
His exophthalmia and concentration were so intense that after he made that last putt, his eyes almost became stuck. Luckily for his health, by the time he was interviewed a few minutes later, his eyes had retreated back into their sockets.
These players’ abilities bring me to a few questions. I wonder what kind of gizmos and gadgets will be sold in the near future? In the mid 2000s, red tinted contacts were all the rage in Major League Baseball to help highlight the seams of the baseball when pitched.
Will we see Bushnell release a fluid grid producing sight finder for the greens? Will Oakley be able to make customized full optic sunglasses that open up one’s degree of vision without giving you vertigo?
Or maybe, just maybe, it is what those eyes are connected to with years of built up muscle memory that are producing these awesome results for Keegan Bradley and Ian Poulter.
Writer’s note – If your eyes hurt from reading this article, or have convinced yourself you have these abilities, please go see a Doctor or Therapist.