Should Rory McIlroy contend for the first time at the one tournament that has confounded him during his rapid ascent to the summit, the Players Championship, don't be surprised if he breaks into music on the final green here at Sawgrass on Sunday.
McIlroy revealed yesterday how recourse to that time-honoured terrace rebuke, 'You only sing when you're winning', was given fresh application during the march to his first Major victory in the US Open two years ago.
Pop chanteuse Adele was the unlikely muse behind that success, providing the soundtrack to victory with her 2011 winner 'Rolling in the Deep'.
"I didn't sing it quite as well as her, but it played every morning on the radio, so it was a song stuck in my head that week," he said.
McIlroy arrives at golf's richest event in the best shape of the year, in command once more both of his considerable technical faculties and those between his ears. It was the power of the psyche, and how he learned to control it, that produced the Adele reference.
Adam Scott's victory at the Masters last month after his collapse at the British Open last year mirrored McIlroy's own redemption song at Congressional following the epic collapse at Augusta eight weeks earlier.
"For me the Masters was a completely new experience, and new feelings, feelings that I had never felt before," he said. "I learned a lot from that afternoon in terms of, 'Okay, what are you going to do differently? What are you going to do not to have that happen again?' Do you try to think of something else? Do you sing a song? Whatever you do, everyone treats it differently. I am sure Adam thinks differently to me. For me, it was just staying in the present. The only thing you can control is that next shot and that is something I had to learn."
A win in 2013 still eludes McIlroy and Sawgrass offers a stiff test of his new attitude. "This is a tricky golf course. You have to think your way around it, be strategic," he said.
McIlroy turned 24 last week. With each birthday he adds a layer of hard-earned experience and is further removed from the folly of youth.
"The first year I came here I was in Vegas the week before. The second year was my 21st birthday. That didn't help. Last year I don't have an excuse. I just didn't play well."
This course rewards those who can duck and weave. One such player is Graeme McDowell, who is coming fresh from victory at the Heritage at Hilton Head a fortnight ago.
McDowell put that success down to a relaxed approach after missing the cut at the Masters. He rented two houses and brought friends and family to share his success in South Carolina, and subsequently celebrated his win with a holiday in the Bahamas.
If living the life is the new way to prepare for tournaments, then McDowell comes here bettered prepared than ever. (© Independent News Service)
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