Harrington came from 6 strokes down in the final round to defeat Garcia without making a single swing change.
Harrington credits his victory largely to change in his mental game fostered by Dr. Robert Rotella—one of the world’s top sports psychologist and performance coaches.
Author of 8 books on the mental aspect of playing golf, Dr. Rotella has the winners of more than 70 major championships in men’s, women’s, and senior golf. In 2011 he helped Darren Clarke win the British Open.
Helping Harrington Win
Harrington’s win is re-counted in Rotella’s book called “Your 15th Club.” It’s considered among the best on golf’s mental game.
Dr. Rotella started working with Harrington around 1998. He had gotten a call from the golfer’s wife to set up a visit for her husband.
Shortly afterwards, he began working with the golfer to help him get the most out of his talent. It was the start of a highly productive relationship.
Below are the 7 mental keys that Harrington used to help him win the British Open:
- Clear your mind of all conflicting thoughts
Clear your mind of all conflicting thoughts when making a shot. Think only about hitting the shot. Try not to think about the 3-footer you just missed or the bad break hurt on the previous hole.
- Adhere to a pre-shot routine
Pre-shot routines are critical. You don’t want to hit a shot until your mind and body are ready. Pre-shot routines prepare you mentally and physically to do that. Keep your pre-shot routine short and simple.
- Visualize the shot
Do this for every shot. See the flight pattern, where you want the ball to hit, and where you want it to stop rolling. Plan the shot in your mind. Then step up to the ball and hit it.
- Focus on a target
Pick out a specific target. Focus on it. Then swing away. The more specific the target, the better your chances are of hitting it. Clear your mind of everything but the target.
- Forget your mechanics
Golfer’s think too much about mechanics. Thinking about where your hands should be, what you should do with your weight, or the swing change you just added spells trouble.
- Commit to the swing
Not committing to the swing is s big mistake. In fact, it’s among the biggest. It’s often because we’re between clubs on a shot. If you’re between clubs when hitting an approach shot, make a decision. Then commit to it.
- Accept the results
We all make mistakes—even great players in the midst of winning a major. The key is not letting it hurt you. The shot you just made is the past. Stay in the present.
Incorporate these seven mental keys in your game. They worked for Padraig Harrington. They can work for you, too.