Rotella again shows Darren how to declutter mind

NO MATTER how many times you have competed in events of the size and status of the British Open Championship, one has to be continually impressed by the scale of the infrastructure supporting the event and the attention to detail, not least in the media centre.

It hums away at a frenetic pace throughout the day as journalists attempt to find the best angles for reports while meeting their deadlines throughout the world.

For players in contention throughout the week at the Open, the media centre can be a fun place to go. If you are someone like Darren Clarke, who has been out of the limelight in recent years — at least as far as major championships are concerned — then the time spent in the media centre can be very engaging indeed! Darren will have milked the attention he has so rightly deserved over the past couple of days. And who could blame him.

His golf this week at Sandwich has been quite imperious. Many will suggest that he may have enjoyed the most favourable conditions, but fortune favours the brave and he has made the most of his opportunities. No one doubts his ability to strike a golf ball or to control the trajectory of the ball flight. No, what everyone wonders about is his ability to hole out enough putts and remain focused.

Darren’s glorious golfing CV includes two World Golf Championships but no one would deny he has shown the talent in his career to have won more often, including the majors. However pro golf is anything but fair. He has many scars to show for his efforts over the years, so many of which are self-inflicted. Without doubt, we are currently witnessing a more contented Clarke, a man comfortable playing links golf and a man who now appears to be less combustible than in past years.

At 42 years of age, and a world ranking closer to 100 than the all-important 50, he knows he has to make the most of the limited opportunities he now has to compete on the biggest stages in professional golf. I tipped him as a dark horse at the start of this week more because I am full of admiration for the way he has got back to winning ways again this year at the Iberdrola Open in Mallorca.

This week he has spent a lot of time with Bob Rotella, the famous golf psychologist from America. Psychologists are not for everyone I know, but Darren has benefited hugely from his presence, not only in terms of his pre-shot routine and his putting but most importantly Rotella will have once again shown Darren how to declutter his busy mind.

Of the rest of the Irish, Graeme Mc Dowell’s remarkable fightback on Thursday was derailed by his inconstant form yesterday, resulting in a missed cut. This is a bitter pill for McDowell as there is little doubt he has the pedigree and the game to be competing more successfully than his current form suggests. On form McDowell would have relished the challenge posed by Royal St George’s, especially after positioning himself so well on Thursday, but once again his Open campaign has failed to ignite. He must quickly evaluate and sort out his inconsistent form that has dogged his performances this year.

For Pádraig Harrington, missing the cut on four over par once again suggests he has had a frustrating week. He needs to regroup quickly if possible. That may well involve a change in his playing schedule (play more tournaments) or indeed more radical changes such as some swing modifications or a change in the personnel associated with his game.

One has to be impressed with Rory McIlroy’s game from tee to green but once again yesterday he did not look altogether comfortable on the greens. He will give himself opportunities to challenge, but I fear that if he does not convert those short to medium putts more consistently then frustration may lead to silly bogeys and ultimately his chance to win back-to-back major titles tomorrow evening.

Of the pack, there is a whole host of players, all with the pedigree and experience, in contention to win over the weekend. The forecast promises a mixture of wind and rain and Royal St George’s is likely to become less forgiving. With so many quality players within four shots of the lead, anything can happen. The eventual winner may well be the one whose attitude is better than anyone else’s.

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