GLENEAGLES Scotland (Reuters) - The 24 players in this week’s Ryder Cup must leave their egos at the front gate and focus on the needs of their respective teams, according to one of golf’s top psychologists Dr Bob Rotella.
The 65-year-old American, who boasts world number one and European team leader Rory McIlroy as a client, believes the stigma attached to being part of a losing team is hard to bear.
“The players are competing for something bigger than themselves this week,” Rotella told Reuters in a telephone interview from his home in Charlottesville, Virginia.
”It’s about their countries and their continents and that brings a lot of pride.
”They love all the goodies they get during the week, the bags, the clothes and such like, but it’s a lot more fun if you are on the winning team.
“If they have been on the losing team a lot want to hide the bags and the clothes because people come and ask about it and that changes the whole conversation,” said Rotella.
“It doesn’t matter how many points you win as an individual but it really matters if your team wins. You’ve got to put your ego to one side and make sure you remember that.”
Rotella, who has worked with nine of the 24 golfers who will do battle in the match between holders Europe and the United States at Gleneagles this week, said the pressure-packed atmosphere of the Ryder Cup always represented a voyage of discovery for the players.
“Everyone around them is building the Ryder Cup up and making it the biggest thing in the world but the players have to tone it down, get in their own little worlds and do their own routines,” he explained.
”The bottom line is that on the first tee, over the first couple of holes, your heart is going to be beating, your arms are going to be shaking, you are going to have trouble getting moisture in your mouth.
“You are going to be feeling it physiologically but psychologically you are still doing the same thing,” said Rotella who is an ambassador for sports bookmaker Betway.
“That’s one of the reasons the players are desperate to be involved. They want to find out if they can trust themselves and play their natural games when they’re feeling that way.”
Rotella, who has coached the winners of 74 major championships on the men‘s, women’s and senior tours since 1984,
said he always advised his players to be physically prepared for the rigors of a Ryder Cup week.
”The pressure is heightened and the crowds are very different,“ he said. ”They are much louder and much more excited.
”You try to do your preparation a long time in advance. You work with your swing teacher to make sure that element of your game is on line and you do the best you can to get some rest beforehand.
“That’s getting more and more difficult because of the busy tournament schedules around the world but it’s a long week,” said Rotella who also works in other sports and has lent his advice to singers and business people.
“There is often cold and damp weather this time of year and there are lots of team meetings and functions. It’s a tiring week so you’ve got to make sure you are rested and ready to go.”
Editing by Martynn Herman