Rory McIlroy’s victory in The Open Championship at Royal Liverpool today was a demonstration of his increasing mental maturity. That is the view of performance psychologist and Pre-Shot founder Jon Finn.
In his interview with BBC Sport, the victorious McIlroy spoke of being, “in the present”, and revealed how he had found new levels of mental “focus”, as he fought off a fierce final round challenge from a chasing pack, including Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler.
And Finn – who is golf psychology consultant to the Professional Golfers’ Association of Great Britain and Northern Ireland – believes the Northern Irishman’s comments are evidence of a new, enhanced mental approach to the game, which is highly likely to have been brought about by the full biological development of his brain.
“We know that Rory McIlroy is now 25 and modern neuroscience tells us this is the age when the human brain is fully developed in adult males. Key parts of the prefrontal cortex become developed, making it easier to suppress what I refer to as the Monkey Brain and its often unhelpful thoughts”, said Finn, whose successful work is based on insight gained from MRI brain scans and associated techniques.
“As part of my work in golf, I have looked in detail at Rory McIlroy’s previous successes and failures and I believe he is now in a far more mentally robust state”.
Finn added:”He made reference to managing his thoughts and staying focussed, during what could have been a nerve wracking final round, in a championship he himself described as the greatest.
“I have not known him to say this kind of thing before and, in my opinion, he is now using meta-cognition. In other words he is able to think about what his thoughts are, as they happen.
“This is the highest possible state of resilience and is far more likely to take place in a mature brain.
“For example, his comments at Hoylake today contrast sharply with his reaction after his meltdown at The Masters in 2011, when he was just 22.
“After a disastrous final round at Augusta which effectively lost him the tournament, his comments revealed a lack of control over his thoughts and he spoke of an inner voice tormenting him.”
Finn concluded: ”Successfully controlling your thoughts is the secret to successful golf and it seems to me Rory McIlroy has now taken a major step towards achieving this.”
Jon Finn works at the PGA’s National Training Academy at The Belfry, in the UK.
He has recently released a series of Golf eBooks which help all golfers hit better shots and shoot lower scores. The books contain Finn’s revolutionary Pre-Shot training system which uses simple, practical golf psychology.
The approach employed by Olympic athletes via their work with sports psychologist Dr. Steve Peters, is also similar to the Pre-Shot system. Peters worked with Team GB’s medal-winning cyclists at the 2012 Olympics.
The new Pre-Shot books give a step-by-step and enjoyable guide to implementing the unique Pre-Shot system and use practical exercises, hitting golf balls. No swing changes are needed as the books help golfers change the way they think.
The three eBooks are available on Amazon Kindle. You can view them here