Friday 23 March 2018

The British Open verdict

THE stars all seem to be falling into line for Ireland's three Major Champions at Royal St George's.

Padraig Harrington (pictured), for example, has been striking the ball nicely and did some good work this week with mind-coach Dr Bob Rotella to solve the putting problem which has dogged him recently.

"He got a little too precise, trying to get too perfect with his reads," said Rotella. "And that leads to not being able to stroke it as well, but we worked on it. He's a good putter, plus he loves this kind of golf course and he loves the wind.

"Padraig has this marvellous ability to like whatever is put in front of him. He's got that down," added the doctor.

Graeme McDowell, meanwhile, "hasn't felt this fresh" entering a tournament since last June, when he won the US Open at Pebble Beach.

Yet Rory McIlroy, his confidence soaring after Congressional, has learned so much in the past 12 months, it's difficult to oppose him here. He can shine on the links, as he proved by winning the Amateur Medallion at age 17 at Carnoustie and with last year's first round 63 at St Andrews.

The youngster's swing was knocked out of kilter and his morale wilted as he posted a windswept 80 the following day, but, as he says himself: "Physically I feel a lot stronger and mentally I'm a lot better than last year.

"That was a good lesson to learn," he added. "I'm going up against that again this year, hopefully, I'll deal with it a bit better."

As he proved after Augusta, McIlroy learns his lessons well and has the maturity and self-belief to take the rough with the smooth this week and lift the Claret Jug.

Irish Independent

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