Padraig Harrington has told golf’s young guns: Keep your cool and you too can be Open champion.
The Dubliner presented commemorative medals to the 150 young stars who teed off in the Junior Open at Hesketh yesterday.
And he warned them that throwing clubs and kicking bags is not the way to go if you want to be a Major winner.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Harrington said: “I pride myself on the fact that I have never thrown a golf club, never kicked my bag or slammed my club into the ground.
“There is no place for those kinds of things in the game of golf.”
Harrington took up the game when he was just four years old, learning from his father Paddy and his older brothers at Stackstown Golf Club in Rathfarnham.
And he puts his success in the game down to the proper grounding he got in the basics as a youngster - including etiquette and mental strength.
Harrington said: “My father and brothers were a great influence. My father always tried to encourage me in the art of scoring in the game of golf.
“Getting the ball in the hole in as few shots as possible is all that counts. It doesn’t matter how you do it - it is the result that counts.
“From a skill point of view as a teenager we would play games of trying to get down in three from 150 yards out and while things have progressed since then, a good short game and chipping is so important.
“But he also taught me about the character of the game and has always instilled into me that the game of golf is more important. There is a great sense of fair play.”
Learning how to handle yourself on the golf course is just as important as learning how to score.
And Harrington believes that controlling your temper and dealing with adversity is major factor in the making of a champion.
Encouraging the kids to pay attention to the mental game on show at Royal Birkdale, he said: “It is the players who do not let the bad shots affect them, who have the mental strength, that have success.
“When they watch the Open this week, the kids will be attracted by the power and finesse of the golf swings. But they should also be looking towards the mental side of the game.
“All the players can swing a golf club well which is why the mental side of the game becomes so important.
“There will be 150 good golfers out there, but what will separate them will be their mental and tactical approach.”