The seven big Open questions

Published:

1. How do you win the Open?

From trigger words to anger management; five recent Open Championship winners reveal the secret of their success.

BY REPEATING A ROUTINE

Rory McIlroy, 2014 Winner, Hoylake

Rory won his first Open by two shots and put his success down to focusing on two key phrases: ‘process’ and ‘spot’. “‘Process’ was for my long shots – I just wanted to stick to my process and stick to making good decisions, making good swings. ‘Spot’ was for my putting; just pick a spot and try to roll it over my spot every time. I wasn’t thinking about holing it or what it would mean, I just wanted to roll that ball over that spot. And it worked.”

 

BY HANGING IN AND MAKING PUTTS

Phil Mickelson, 2013 Winner, Muirfield

Lefty entered the final day five strokes adrift and remained adrift until hitting the turn, yet he won by three. “I was behind the whole day but I wasn’t thinking I needed to make or force birdies. I was just trying to hit good shots. And I putted as good as I ever have in my career and that was key. Links greens have been the reason why I have not been in contention very often (in Opens). But the birdies weren’t ever forced. They just happened.”

 

BY CHANNELING POSITIVE ANGER

Ernie Els, 2012 Winner, Lytham

With nine holes remaining, Els trailed the leader Adam Scott by six. As Scott imploded, Els won by a single stroke. “I bogeyed 9 and I was really angry with myself and that almost set me in a different mindset. It really got me aggressive. I hit a lot of drivers on the back nine and I was just trying to make birdies. I felt good, like I could still win and I was just playing golf right in the moment, for once. Think positive and positive things happen.”

 

BY GETTING LUCKY

Darren Clarke, 2011 Winner, Royal St George’s

Darren Clarke led from the second round and finished three clear of Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson. “I got a couple of good breaks that went my way. On the Saturday I played as good as I could play but didn’t really get anything out of it. On the Sunday I played okay but a couple of breaks went my way. But that’s links golf. My attitude also helped. It’s much easier to perform well with a smile on your face than a scowl on your face.”

 

BY STAYING ICE COLD

Louis Oosthuizen, 2010 Winner, St Andrews

The South African won his first major by seven strokes, finishing 16 under par and playing with a cool head few had previously seen. “Any youngster who makes stupid mistakes on the golf course, it frustrates you. But if you look at the older guys on tour who have all that experience, when they make bogey or double bogey, they just go on to the next hole. I thought to myself, the quicker I can get around that, the quicker I’m going to win tournaments like the Open. And that helped. I just focused on each shot and took my time, even on the small putts. I just made sure that I didn’t put myself under any unnecessary pressure.”

 

NEXT: Has the Old Course become too easy? >>


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