It’s day two of the Open Championship, and one of the pre-tournament favourites, Graham McDowell has missed the cut. ‘I was a bit of a mental case out there’, was the Irishman’s description of his 36 hole performance.
He also went on the say that ‘I need to care a bit less about the game right now’.
Fascinating comments from such a keen and dedicated mental student of the game. But what does Graham mean exactly, by caring less about the game.
It suggests that he has lost both his feel and perhaps his love of golf. It’s just no longer fun. At least not at the moment. Perhaps winning the 2010 US Open has raised his personal expectations to such a level, that he can’t match the golf that he feels that he should be playing. That he cares too much.
Expectations means that everything has to be near perfect. There is no margin for error. Which impacts significantly on the feel that you have, especially in your short game.
Graham McDowell is a top player. Whatever pressure he is feeling to match his US Open triumph, has to be supported by understanding the reason why he is a Major winner.
Yes his focus can be on winning another Major. But McDowell’s priority right now, has to be to get some feel back in his game. Once he does that, the scores will follow.
It means getting back to basics in some ways. Reducing the pressure on himself and also managing the balance between wanting to improve (obsession), and trusting his game as it is. After all, it was good enough to win Graham McDowell a Major.