Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

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

updated 12:06 PM EDT, Fri July 19, 2013
World No. 2 Rory McIlroy described himself as "brain dead" and "unconscious" after shooting an eight-over-par 79 on day one of the British Open. World No. 2 Rory McIlroy described himself as "brain dead" and "unconscious" after shooting an eight-over-par 79 on day one of the British Open.
HIDE CAPTION
McIlroy misery
Sand man
Love match
Out of the Woods
Slope star
Dried up
Old master
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
>
>>
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"

(CNN) -- 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.

Weather too good at the British Open?
Gary Player: Why I love horses
New golf course at St. Andrews

"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.

"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)."

Read: 'Brain dead' play costs McIlory at the Open

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.

Tiny island boasts golf legacy
Tour stars on God and golf

"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.

"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."

Read: The God of golf

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."

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:24 AM EDT, Fri August 8, 2014
From Seve's "spine-shivering" moment to Jack Nicklaus' "perfect explosion," David Cannon has captured many of golf's defining images.
updated 9:20 AM EDT, Thu August 7, 2014
They came home as casualties of war -- physically shattered and mentally broken. But golf is proving to be an unlikely salvation for U.S. veterans.
updated 8:31 AM EDT, Tue August 5, 2014
You are the one hitting the shots, but the man standing over your shoulder could hold the key to your golfing destiny.
updated 8:27 AM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
PINEHURST, NC - JUNE 10: Rory McIlroy (R) of Northern Ireland talks with his dad Gerry McIlroy (L) during a practice round prior to the start of the 114th U.S. Open at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club, Course No. 2 on June 10, 2014 in Pinehurst, North Carolina. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
He has been there for all three of his son's major wins, but the latest triumph may well have been the sweetest yet for Rory McIlroy's father.
updated 8:18 AM EDT, Wed July 9, 2014
The next generation of golfers just keeps on getting younger. "They have the confidence to perform against their idols," says one ex-prodigy.
updated 7:59 AM EDT, Tue July 1, 2014
He was Spain's ultimate matador and golf's greatest escape artist.
updated 11:36 AM EDT, Wed June 18, 2014
Rory McIlroy has announced he wants to represent Ireland at the Rio Olympics in 2016.
Two-time major champion Rory McIlroy declares he'll represent Ireland at the Rio Olympics, not Great Britain.
updated 10:48 PM EDT, Mon April 28, 2014
Already admired by Annika Sorenstam and with a bucketful of talent, New Zealand's Lydia Ko has the world of golf at her feet.
updated 7:30 AM EDT, Mon April 28, 2014
Mike O'Connor, UK FootGolf
Like footie? Partial to a bit of golf? Then you'll love FootGolf. The sport's growing fan base includes a host of former English Premier League stars.
updated 9:43 AM EDT, Thu April 24, 2014
Golfers at at Barkway Park don't seem to concerned and have been taking pictures and videos of the bird when it appears on the greens and fairways.
A runaway ostrich-like bird hiding near an English golf course has caused quite a stir. Some say it's dangerous, while others are cashing in.
updated 8:38 AM EDT, Tue April 22, 2014
Eagles may be thin on the ground for most golfers at the Bear Trace course at Harrison Bay. But up in the treetops, it's a different matter.
updated 1:54 PM EDT, Fri April 18, 2014
When someone tells you to go jump in a lake, sometimes it's best to take their advice. "I've never been so scared," says golfer Pablo Larrazabal.
ADVERTISEMENT