As the curtain rises on the 142nd Open Championship, one of the world’s leading mind coaches has analysed the mental journey a golfer has to take to win the coveted Claret Jug.
Dr Bob Rotella, who has coached 74 Major winners including Open Champions Darren Clarke, Padraig Harrington and Paul Lawrie, was commissioned by Open Championship patron HSBC to map out the day by day mental approach required to triumph at golf’s oldest Major.
According to Dr Rotella, who also works with Major winners Graeme McDowell, Keegan Bradley and Jim Furyk, the importance of mental approach can start as high as 20% on the Monday, dip to as low as 3% on the Wednesday and reach a peak of 95% by the Sunday evening. Dr Rotella considered three types of golfer – a first time Major player, a previous Major player and a previous Major winner.
Open Championship patron HSBC commissioned the research to highlight the importance of preparation ahead of the showpiece event at Muirfield (July 18-21).
Dr Rotella said: “The Open is a potentially life-changing event and mental preparation is hugely important if you want to win the world’s oldest Major.
“It’s a very tough week. Early in the week there will be some worry or anxiety about your game but by Wednesday you are looking to go from getting your physical game in shape to getting your mental game ready.
“You have to be mentally ready for anything – terrible weather, the bad side of the draw, anything that the week throws at you. You really don’t know what you are going to get - you don’t get these extremes at any other Major tournament but you have to embrace it and say: ‘This is real golf, this is The Open Championship’.
“Players dream about winning The Open from a very young age and have been preparing for this moment all their life but the more you want it and the bigger a deal you make it, the harder it is to imagine winning it. It is easy to try too hard, to care too much and to let that get in your way because you want it so badly.
“In 2013 the pressure is higher than it’s ever been before, you make it such a big thing and then the world of fans and media have made it that if you don’t win Majors you are not going down in history as one of the greats.
“When people ask me about the mind I don’t really know if it’s the mind, the heart, the soul or the human spirit but what’s beautiful about it is that you can’t take a picture of it with a TV camera but a player knows if he trusts himself or not.
“Players have to ask: ‘Can I come down to the last couple of holes and make myself do something I know I can already do? Am I going to let myself do this?’ And it’s that little bit of doubt - they are not scared to death, it’s more likely they are trying too hard to do everything perfectly.”
HSBC Global Head of Sponsorship and Events Giles Morgan said: “Our theme for The Open Championship this year is all around the importance of preparation so it made absolute sense for us to work with Dr Rotella to step inside the mind of an Open Champion for the week – just what does it take to get your hands on the revered Claret Jug?
“As a global banking and financial services organisation, preparation is fundamental to everything we do and as a proud patron of The Open Championship we wanted to get under the skin of this iconic tournament and highlight the importance of every aspect of the game when preparing for the unique challenge of The Open Championship.”
Dr Rotella's guide to winning The Open
1 Build a clear and comfortable mental picture of yourself winning The Open Championship
2 Adopt the attitude that nothing is going to bother or upset you – you’re unstoppable if you’re unflappable
3 You’ve been training for The Open since you were a child – now go out and enjoy it
4 Be patient and accept every shot – from the first tee shot to the last putt
5 Trust your imagination – it will take you a long way
6 Mental toughness and emotional resilience will get you through
7 You’ve done your homework, now play your game – don’t try and be perfect
8 Be decisive and totally committed to every shot you play
9 Be in a state of mind where process is more important than outcome
10 Embrace the unique challenge of The Open Championship – weather, course conditions, the whole lot
To follow how HSBC is preparing for The Open Championship go to www.TheOpen.com/HSBC.