Time for McIlroy to book an appointment with golf's mind doctor?

Story highlights

  • Rory McIlroy talks of being "brain dead" and "unconscious" during British Open first round
  • Renowned mind coach Dr Bob Rotella offers help to McIlroy
  • Rotella has helped golfers such as Keegan Bradley, Padraig Harrington and Darren Clarke
  • Mind coach predicts that McIlroy "will be back"

When golfers admit to feeling "brain dead" and "unconscious" -- as Rory McIlroy did at Muirfield on Thursday -- perhaps it's time to book an appointment with the doctor.

Dr Bob Rotella that is; the legendary mind coach who has helped some of the game's biggest names like Keegan Bradley, Padraig Harrington and Darren Clarke plot their way to major success.

McIlroy's very public loss of form ended with a disheartening opening round of eight-over-par in Scotland and those comments to the media gave an insight into his present trouble state of mind.

But the good news is that if the beleaguered former world No. 1 wants to pick up the phone to Rotella, the revered coach would be only too happy to help.

"Anybody would love to work with Rory," Rotella exclusively told CNN.

"He's a really good kid, he has a lot of talent and he loves golf. Even people who love golf in some moments can feel bad about it but I've never seen him at a stage where he hates it.

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"I think he probably feels like it's getting hard at the moment. Sometimes this game is so easy for someone like him -- it's ridiculous how easy it can be.

"But even for them sometimes you say 'Where is it? Where did it go? When is it coming back?' That's the big question.

"I spent some time with him a few years ago at The Masters. Perhaps it was nothing to do with me but the next week he won at Charlotte for the first time in the U.S. and he has obviously played some incredible golf (since)."

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McIlroy's form has dipped ever since he was launched as a new Nike protégé in a blaze of publicity at the start of this year.

So, is he struggling with his new clubs or are off the course distractions, like his romance with tennis star Caroline Wozniacki, limiting his time on the range?

Whatever is behind his malaise, the 24-year-old, who has won two majors, is still brutally honest about his current failings, laying his feelings bare in that startling press conference.

So what did Rotella make of his comments?

"First of all, it says to me that he's a young man who's very comfortable with himself and he feels good enough about himself that he is comfortable talking about it," added Rotella, who has been coaching amateur players in HSBC's golf zone.

"That's a good sign. This is the most honest thing any of us will ever do in our life -- playing golf.

"Rory sounds like he knows he's not where he needs to be or was when he was playing his best and he knows he's got to get back there. But that's pretty common. We've just seen Tiger Woods go through two or three years of struggling with it.

"What usually happens is you reach a certain point when you sink to a level and then say 'This is ridiculous.' At that point you simplify everything, stop over-analysing and go out there and kick some butt.

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"What the world needs to understand is that he's only half an inch away. It happens a lot in the world of sport, not just in golf. Rory's been a very skilled, confident, successful player for a long time.

"He will be back, it's just a matter of how long will it take."

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Many commentators on the game have suggested McIlroy seek Rotella out while he is in situ at Muirfield.

He's a champion in his own right at focusing players and encouraging them to adopt routines that will keep them calm in the pressure cooker atmosphere of a major championship.

So where would he start if McIlroy -- who reportedly told the Times newspaper that "it could be beneficial to see someone like Rotella again" -- wanders into his surgery in the next few hours?

"I'd probably want to hear him tell me what is going on, to find out if what he said to the media is what really is going on," Rotella explained.

"The biggest thing is to say 'That round is over, forget about it. The only thing that matters now is getting in a great state of mind to go out there and whether it's to see how low you can shoot, make the most birdies and break the course record.'

"That's the mind-set you have to have. Sometimes when you're way back it makes it easier to free up and throw away all the doubt, fear and questions marks and go for it.

"But you have to combine that with patience -- that's the difficulty on a course this tough."