What does it take to win the Open Championship? Golf Psychologist d. He trained two champions

That same man, who was revealed as the team’s sports psychologist, then appeared on the Jazz’s private jet as the team left for the Los Angeles Lakers, where he sat in the forum – just behind the bench – eating popcorn and drinking soft drinks. .

“If a 17-year-old in rural South Carolina thinks, ‘Are they paying this guy?'” Pickens told CNN. “

“It’s ridiculous. I want to do it because it does not sound like a job.”

And so began a journey in which dr. Mo has helped train professional athletes across a range of sports – from the NFL to NASCAR. But his real home was always on the right track.

Pickens was a dedicated golfer in his youth, and wrote a dissertation on “Gaining Confidence” on his way to his Ph.D. in Sport Psychology from the University of Virginia. Since then, he has made a name for himself as one of golf’s leading psychologists, working with some of the game’s biggest stars over the course of a 27-year career.

pressure

A star-studded client has scored 28 PGA Tour victories while working with Pickens, which has been awarded four major victories by Zack Johnson, Lucas Glover and Stewart Sink.
With the highly anticipated 150 Open Championship in St Andrews, Scotland set to start on July 14, Pickens is well positioned to provide insight into what it takes to lift the Clarett Jug.
Several months after joining Pickens in 2009, Sink snatched his first major in the 138th edition of the event. Six years later, Johnson – a Pickens client for 16 years – won at St Andrews for his second major win.

Appropriately, both players won through the four-hole playoffs. For Pickens, it’s his biggest challenge as a sports psychologist to try to repeat the pressure of match day. Try as he can – talk through it and do demanding rehearsals – there is simply no way for Pickens to mimic the stress of an event, let alone a crucial play-off match.

“It’s almost impossible – because it’s physiological – to get their adrenaline going as it goes on Sunday,” Pickens said.

However, the psychologist’s efforts seem to draw the best out of Johnson, a self-confessed hypercompetitive individual who enjoys Pickens’ practical bets that share small amounts of money in the outcome.

“I just love competition, I love anything that pushes me to try to improve myself,” Johnson said in a dated video to Pickens’ website.

“I always try to do something in my practice, so when it comes to the end result of the competition, week after week on the tour, I know I have been there before. I saw it, I felt it, and I can be successful.

mind management

The ability to practice effectively touches on what Pickens believes are the two primary mental qualities required of excellent golfers: discipline and the ability to control one’s mind.

It may sound paradoxical, but Pickens says the biggest psychological challenge golfers face while swinging is simply that the ball is stationary.

While in football or tennis the moving ball instinctively occupies the players’ thoughts and actions, golfers – who are forced to consciously fill this spiritual silence – must exercise themselves to “occupy their minds”. Comparisons between the sports can be found in basketball free throw and baseball throw.

This is basically what Pickens’ role is all about – helping players manage their minds, especially in the crucial five to six seconds before they swing. As a form of meditation, players need to know exactly what thoughts are coming into their head.

“Some players count,” Pickens explains. “Walk in. One, hit behind the ball. Two, feet down. Three, look at the target. Four, back to the ball. Five, swing back. Six, by swinging.

“If you have consistency in the input of your thinking, you have a better chance of getting consistency from your output to achieve the goal.”

Pickens with Jonathan Bird, another of his clients and a five-time PGA Tour winner.

For Johnson, who suspected there was something “down” in his game before working with Pickens in 2006, the advice immediately stopped and continued through his 24-year career.

“I thought I had a good routine, I thought it was consistent, I thought it was repeatable, but it was just that,” Johnson said in a video on Pickens’ website.

“It was very inconsistent, it was not thought through, it did not allow me to play at my best and it did not give me confidence and consistency in the game.”

Similar techniques have helped Sinek clear his mind of overfocusing on results, the American said in a video on Pickens’ website. At age 49, Cink continues to add up to his eight PGA Tour victories and take home his third RBC Heritage title in April 2021.

Meanwhile, mindfulness management was a lesson the hot-headed young Glover – the 2009 U.S. Open champion – quickly learned when he began working with Pickens after graduating from Clemson University in 2001.

“I immediately knew that my nerves were affecting my rounds a lot,” Glover said in a video clip on the psychiatrist’s website. “Dr Mo basically taught me that it’s normal to feel upset and angry, but to let it pass quickly and not allow it to affect the next shot.”

Glover stands with the US Open after winning a two-stroke in 2009 at Bethpage State Park.

discipline

However, the ability to occupy the mind is nothing without disciplined practice, Pickens claims.

Instead of just going out and hitting some balls, top professionals should focus on lasers in their training. It is extremely important, as with the pre-swing routine, that players remove emotion from their training – not just thinking of a good or bad day, but analyzing their performance without emotion.

For Pickens, it is one of Johnson’s most perfect assets – though often misunderstood.

Matt Fitzpatrick celebrates victory

Pickens explains: “It’s not that Zack has no feelings. Sometimes people misinterpret and think he has them.” “He is very good at managing it and focusing on what he wants to focus on.

“He just does not believe that he is saying ‘OK, that is what I want to achieve and here is how I am going to do it. “

“Many people describe themselves as professionals, but they still play golf. The people who make it understand, ‘I have to treat it like a job.’

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