Golf Psychology: Rory McIlroy – Pressure!

Rory McIlroy Golf PsychologyAnd so it’s a few days since Rory McIlroy failed to secure the US Open Title at Pinehurst.

And all the talk seems to be about how he will recover.

Or if he ever will recover!

Rory himself has said he will take time out before returning to defend his Scottish Open title in July.

So why have a couple of missed short putts caused such emotion amongst fans, critics and the player himself?

Well up to the final three holes at Pinehurst, Rory had made 496 putts inside three feet in succession this season.

In other words, at Pinehurst, he missed two putts he can make with his eyes closed.

But these two putts weren’t like any other he has holed in the phenomenal sequence.

These were basically putts to win The US Open.

Which you might think, shouldn’t be a problem to a four-time Major winner.

But when you have not win a Major since going wire to wire in 2014, somehow, maybe without you even realising it, the magnitude of a potential win and the pressure that brings becomes greater than your ability to absorb that pressure.

No one has warned you this might happen.

You haven’t mentally prepared for the fact that your desire, need, desperation to win might overwhelm the simplicity of your process.

You only know once you know. And then it’s too late.

Well almost.

Because Rory’s miss at sixteen could have been a warning sigh. An alarm bell.

That told him he needed to release some pressure and reset his mind and emotions.

Probably the caddies job.

Look that might have happened.

But when he faced another three footer on eighteen, it became a sequence of compound misses.

Whatever happened on sixteen, repeated itself on eighteen.

The need to win built up over ten years, playing itself out In such a way that he’s had to take.a break from the game to process it all.

Process why the win was so important that it overwrote his process.

You can’t always reduce the importance of your desire.

But you can always factor in how it might impact on your process and what to do about it.

Relearn how you compartmentalise it.

Place it somewhere in your imagery or feeling landscape that makes it safe, without reducing its power.

For this desire, if channelled into the rest of your process, can be a powerful force for success.

But left to its own devices. Unprocessed. Not separated. It can become a destructive force.

For maximum pressure applied inside a process that requires sweet sensitivity, leads to tension in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Those writing Rory off are premature.

For the lessons to be learnt here are accessible if you know what to look for.

Rory will be back in contention for a Major sometime soon. What will be interesting to see, is if he has re-constructed the formula for winning, whereby winning doesn’t become more important than the ‘how you win’.

It is always said, ‘let the winning come to you’.

Because if you go after the winning too hard, it’s too smart, fast and experienced to fall into your emotional traps!

Posted in Golf Psychology.