|Feb 13||Clune Construction Signs PGA Golfer Padraig Harrington as Official Ambassador||More >|
|May 12||Padraig to "Wear the Laces" for Special Olympics at the The Players Championship||More >|
|May 12||Local School Children Meet Golfing Hero Padraig Harrington||More >|
|Mar 12||Brands support Padraig Harrington Charitable Foundation Initiative||More >|
|Jul 11||Harrington goes for Irish Open title wearing the laces for Special Olympics||More >|
|Jul 11||The HSBC Ultimate Open 18||More >|
|Jun 11||Padraig Open 'Sarazen' Bunker at Prince's||More >|
|May 10||Padraig Harrington Unveiled as Ireland's Golf Ambassador||More >|
|May 10||Harrington's Appointment As Global Ambassador is Special||More >|
|May 10||Golfer Padraig Harrington Joins Special Olympics||More >|
|Mar 10||Get The Most From Your Gear||More >|
|Nov 09||Harrington finds time for others even in worst moment||More >|
|Sep 09||Padraig to headline Portugal Masters||More >|
|Jul 09||Cannon inspired by Harrington Golf||More >|
|Jul 09||Padraig embraces fame, strives to improve||More >|
|Jul 09||Work, Rest and Play||More >|
|Apr 09||R&A hail champion Harrington||More >|
|Apr 09||Padraig - Pre Masters interview||More >|
|Mar 09||Stackstown open 'Harrington Room'||More >|
|Feb 09||Interview before the 2009 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am||More >|
|Feb 09||Interview before the 2009 Buick Invitational||More >|
|Feb 09||He won me the Open at Carnoustie||More >|
|Jan 09||Harrington - King of the Mountain||More >|
|Jan 09||Ronan Flood Q&A||More >|
|Jan 09||Another award for Padraig||More >|
|Dec 08||Padraig Harrington - a Celebration||More >|
|Dec 08||Padraig wins Sportsperson of the Year||More >|
|Dec 08||PGA Tour - Player of the Year 2008||More >|
|Dec 08||Padraig retains Golf writers' honour||More >|
|Dec 08||Padraig - More to Come||More >|
|Dec 08||Padraig named European Golfer of the Year||More >|
|Dec 08||Padraig wins European Tour Shot of the Year||More >|
|Nov 08||My Sportsman: Padraig Harrington||More >|
|Nov 08||The trials of Padraig Harrington, Mr Perfection||More >|
|Oct 08||2008 PGA of America Player of the Year||More >|
|Oct 08||Man of the moment is never short of a Bob||More >|
|Sep 08||Padraig wins Shot of the Month Aug 08||More >|
|Sep 08||That's one, two, three.||More >|
|Sep 08||A legend in the making||More >|
|Sep 08||Do I think I can improve as a player ?||More >|
|Sep 08||Double the Champion||More >|
|Aug 08||Padraig wins Shot of the Month July 08||More >|
|Aug 08||The Champ's Press Conference||More >|
|Aug 08||'I didn't want to give the Jug back!'||More >|
|Jul 08||How to win the Open||More >|
GOLF PSYCHOLOGY: Paul Gallagher on the major roles played by swing coach Torrance and mind guru Rotella in Pádraig Harrington's success. Staying in the present and clear thinking are vital.
Article by Paul Gallagher of The Irish Times
"Visualising the shot in your mind before crossing the imaginary 'commitment line' will help immensely. Ben Hogan often said by the time he was standing over the ball, the shot had been hit (in his mind)
OFTEN THE most difficult task in golf is overcoming the six inches of grey matter between the ears. Technically gifted swings will go a long way but the complete package requires the mental fortitude to deliver under extreme pressure when it matters most. Pádraig Harrington recognises this need and it's no coincidence his major winning ways are directly linked to work done with revered golf psychologist Bob Rotella.
Harrington possesses a newfound status after this season's back-to-back major wins. He holds sway in the upper echelons where many aspire to be but only a select few ever reach. Should the affable multiple-major winner do nothing more in the game his legacy is still assured. The knock-on effect of Harrington's three majors in the last 14 months has yet to unfold for Irish golf.
Nobody works harder at the game than Harrington and although he's on record as once saying he would have been happy as a journeyman pro, there was always the impression that a burning desire to be the very best he could be drove him forward, and made him the player he is today.
He also had the foresight to know he couldn't make that journey alone.
Right from the early stages of his tour career in the mid 1990s Harrington sought help and advice from the likes of Rotella. Last month this newspaper ran a revealing in-depth feature on how Harrington also called upon another rugged and respected Bob in Bob Torrance.
The Scottish swing coach from the Scottish west coast town of Largs transformed an "ordinary" swing and "mediocre ball-striker" into one capable of winning majors. That's one side of the story because what one Bob did with the mechanics of a swing another one added to and gave Harrington the belief and courage to be a world-beater.
That the Torrances consider the Harringtons almost family at this stage or that Rotella stayed in the same lodgings as his pupil for his back-to-back British Open wins illustrates the player's dedication and desire to become immersed in the cause.
It also reveals a warm and human side to an otherwise ruthless competitor.
Rotella's involvement with golf goes back to the mid-1970s when he had Sam Snead to thank for introducing him to the game. Since then Rotella has published numerous books, the most famous to date arguably Golf is Not a Game of Perfect. His new book Your 15th Club: The Inner Secret to Great Golf offers insights on how he gets the best out of his players, including Harrington.
Rotella was a sports psychologist at the University of Virginia where he specialised in basketball and lacrosse, two sports seemingly worlds apart from golf. In 1976 Snead, who was on the Golf Digest magazine editorial board, asked him to make a presentation.
Snead won seven majors but also said: "If I had this guy when I was young I'd have won so many more majors."
Based on this ringing endorsement from an individual like Snead, many new opportunities appeared in golf for Rotella.
Over 30 years later the American is considered the finest in his field today and has a client list the length of your arm.
Rotella's mantra emphasises staying in the present, not an uncommon message with mind coaches whose aim is to keep their players focused on one shot at a time and not get caught up in the emotion of it all.
The manner in which Harrington closed out this year's two major wins could be described as clinical. The Dubliner demonstrated that ruthless streak and was able to pull off the "big" shots when it mattered most.
But interestingly, Rotella rewinds back to Carnoustie 2007 to recall a pivotal time in Harrington's development as a player.
Rotella believes the way he dealt with adversity, then had the clarity of thought to pitch and putt on the final hole to force a play-off after finding the Barry Burn not once but twice, demonstrated Harrington was ready for the next level. The player had also given an indication of this to his lodger the night before the final round.
The 37-year-old made the uncharacteristic and bold prediction to the "Doc" (Rotella) that he would finally win a major. And for so much of that Sunday afternoon in Carnoustie he was on course to deliver the promise.
Harrington had reeled in Sergio Garcia's six-shot lead and done everything right for 17 holes but getting over the finishing line proved more difficult.
"The spectre of Jean Van de Velde in 1999 hangs over that hole . . . it's the hardest finishing hole I've seen in a major," said Rotella, referring to the 18th at Carnoustie.
But he had also seen enough to be sure Harrington was back in the moment.
Before the play-off Harrington said: "Doc, when you see me wave to the gallery, instead of waving I'm imagining holding the Claret Jug, only the two of us will know the truth."
This was getting ahead, which Rotella always warned against, yet it also illustrated Harrington's confidence.
This year Harrington didn't have to endure the same emotional roller-coaster ride as Carnoustie as he stamped his authority in both major wins.
The back nines he played at Birkdale and Oakland Hills were courageous.
The fairway wood to set up the eagle on the 17th at Birkdale typifies this and for Rotella it also shows how Harrington was able to stay in the present to pull off such a shot under extreme pressure.
Keeping in the present is an easy thing for a "Golf Guru" to advocate but what does it actually involve or mean?
For Trevor Immelman, another Rotella client, it meant not looking at the scoreboards when he won this year's US Masters.
Rotella recalls the South African's words: "At no point in the final round did I ever look at a scoreboard or ever think if I was winning. I was so totally into the present it was the most wonderful feeling."
Closer to home, I recall asking a friend and assistant pro, Bryan Smyth, how he felt when he shot the low round of the day in difficult conditions at the Irish PGA Championship at Druids Heath several years ago.
"To be honest, I hadn't a clue what I'd shot until I signed my card," said Smyth, who was totally focused on the present.
There is no template for a successful golf guru and often they come from completely different backgrounds. Rotella has an academic background, with a number of best-selling publications. This is compared to the enigmatic Belgian Jos Vanstiphout, a former band member with no direct links to golf.
However that didn't stop Vanstiphout, who was also a successful salesman in a previous existence, guiding the likes of Ernie Els to British Open success in 2002. The somewhat strange aspect of this episode was Vanstiphout had two clients in the play-off as Els took on and defeated France's Thomas Levet.
Like Rotella, Vanstiphout has enjoyed working with many top-level players, including two-time US open winner Refief Goosen and this year's Ryder Cup debutant Soren Hansen. But in some quarters mind doctors are treated with scepticism as their methods and results are questioned.
In an effort to get a better idea of how the mental side can influence your game this hacker sat in on a two-hour seminar run by Dr Karl Morris earlier in the season. Morris, a former PGA professional, has quickly built a reputation and works with many top players on the European Tour, including Graeme McDowell, Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood.
Morris was invited to Newcastle by Royal County Down head professional Kevan Whitson, and he broke the session down into four key areas, offering simple illustrations throughout to reinforce the message.
He refers to four quadrants in golf, before a round, during a round, in between shots and after the round.
Morris also identifies different golfing abilities from the beginner with an untrained swing and untrained brain to someone like Tiger Woods with the trained brain and trained swing. Regardless of ability, Morris maintains the message is the same: "The message I gave here in front of a room full of amateurs, all of different ability, carries exactly the same principles for when I'm working with a tour player," said Morris.
A lot of what Morris suggests is common sense and like Rotella or Vanstiphout, there is an emphasis on keeping in the present. He also stresses the importance of visualisation to recall the good shots rather than fearing the negatives.
To illustrate the point, he referred to Tiger Woods' book How I play Golf, where he can instantly recall the good shots and forget the failures. It was also suggested Woods has at least 100 of his best shots stored to memory so he can recall them instantly.
When Woods gives the golf club an authoritative twirl in his hands after playing a shot worthy of being stored to memory, it is said this twirl is a way of book-marking the shot.
"This simple action enables Woods to trigger the shot in his mind at a later point," said Morris.
Morris went on to refer to a think zone and a play zone to emphasise the importance of a set pre-shot routine.
"Visualising the shot in your mind before crossing the imaginary "commitment line" will help immensely," he said.
"Ben Hogan often said by the time he was standing over the ball, the shot had already been hit (in his mind)." Clarity of thought appears to be another common theme in sports psychology and Morris maintains this is a crucial aspect for Clarke.
"Darren is undoubtedly one of the most naturally gifted players I have ever seen, without question," noted Morris.
"But all too often he clutters his mind with too many swing thoughts. Some of the best sessions we've had have been when he goes away with just one swing thought."
In this day and age golfers, or any top-level athletes, will try almost anything to gain an edge over their peers. In golf, Woods has undoubtedly raised the bar in virtually every aspect of the game. Spectators need only glance along the practice ground at any leading tournament these days to see the entourage so many professionals surround themselves with.
Aside from a caddie don't be surprised to find a manager, dietician, nutritional consultant, fitness coach and almost certainly a golf guru close at hand.
In Harrington's case, the rise to the top of his profession has come down to the individual's sheer drive and determination to succeed.
But there's no doubt his success is also due in no small part to two very special Bobs, Messrs Rotella and Torrance.