For the last few hours, while reorganising my history revision notes into things of true beauty, I've been watching Rory McIlroy, the 54 hole leader and favourite, implode mentally in his fourth round at the Masters. He never really got going and after a freak tee shot at the tenth, which hit a tree branch and ricocheted to the left, leaving him out of position and able only to get a triple bogey, he collapsed over the next few holes, missing easy putts left right and centre to put him well back on the leaderboard. It is all too similar to his second round 80 at the Open at St Andrews last year, after his record-equalling 63 the previous day. What can we learn from this? Only, I think, that it is a mental issue, nothing to do with ability.
I have experience of this myself, though naturally not on the scale of McIlroy today. In exams, interviews and other important events, I have found myself vulnerable to mental collapses when considering the scale of what I am attempting. This year, with exams approaching apace, I am trying to fully relax myself by only revising when it feels right to do so, rather than forcing myself into it at inopportune times, and by organising my notes into something I am totally confident with, rather than the confusing mess they ended up as last year. Clearly whether this will work is something I will only discover on results day, but I am far more confident as a result of these measures that I hope I can realise my goals and prevent a recurrence of previous explosions of the mind.
Finally, congratulations to Charl Schwartzel, whose composure has been in my view the deciding factor in his Masters success.