Swinging shrink Mark Campbell needed a police escort to hospital the last time he went to the European Tour Qualifying School.
This time the highly qualified doctor of psychology, 28, is back to his best and physically and mentally ready for the torture of golf’s toughest test.
After eight years slaving for a PhD and a year battling for cash on a German mini tour, the former South and East of Ireland champion is all set to grab his place alongside Stackstown club mate Padraig Harrington on golf’s biggest stage.
One of 18 Irishmen battling for around 80 places from over 300 entries at four Spanish venues today, he hopes to put his psychological expertise to good use and reach the Q-School Finals near Barcelona next week.
Campbell said: “My training definitely helps in dealing with adversity. But it is all about preparation. Once you are on the course you are on automatic pilot.
“Padraig always says that he never has a swing thought on the course. It takes a lot of discipline and it takes a lot of work and he is the best at it at the moment.”
Campbell turned pro last year but was struck down by pneumonia before the Second Stage in Girona.
He was rushed to hospital with a police escort but retained his place for this season and feels ready to complete the job.
Advised by Harrington, he joined the German EPD Tour to get regular competitive practice and finished 20th on the money list with three top-10s.
Sponsored by Team Ireland and Irish Fencing, he’s managed by German agency PRO COMP, who also look after European Tour stars Pelle Edberg and Sven Strüver.
And with that backing and his psychology background he should be able to avoid the mental pitfalls that have wrecked many tour dreams.
Self-imposed pressure has sent dozens into meltdown but Campbell hopes he doesn’t need to his wife Leonie, a clinical psychologist, to put him on the couch.
He said: “The psychology part of things is great but my passion is golf and I don’t look at the other guys as lab rats.
“But you do see players behaving strangely. Some people freak out for about 10 seconds and kick the hell out of their bag or throw their clubs. Other people just seethe away and their temper and their golf go steadily downhill together.
“I can remember loads of meltdowns and it’s not funny. They are trying their hardest but they just lose the plot. I played with a guy who broke three clubs in the first nine holes.
“He threw his putter at his bag, but it hit his driver and broke it and the putter. And then later on he broke a seven iron over his knee. So he has no putter, no driver and a few holes later, no seven iron. He did terrible.”
Campbell could be earning a fortune as a psychologist but opted to chase his dream instead of sticking with the amateur game.
He explained: “Turning pro is a journey nowadays. The fairytale stories like the Harringtons and the Rory McIlroys are the exception. You are just doing your thing and hoping to be in the right place at the right time.
“Every euro I have is going into my golf and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Some people might want their nice job and their BMW but I want to see how far I can go. It’s all or nothing.
Qualifying School Stage Two, Irish in action: (At Costa Ballena, Justin Kehoe, John Kelly, Alan Murray, Gareth Shaw; Sherry Golf Jerez: David Higgins, Shane Lowry (am), Colm Moriarty, Eddie Barr, Noel Fox; Arcos Gardens: Mark Murphy, Simon Thornton, Barrie Trainor, Mark Campbell; Montenmedio: Peter O’Keeffe, Mark Staunton, Daniel Sugrue, Jonathan Caldwell, Richard Kilpatrick.)