After opening with a three-under 69 at Royal Liverpool on day one of the Open, Robert Karlsson says he finally feels as though he is rediscovering the form that saw him win the European Tour Order of Merit in 2008.
The 44-year-old Swede was out in the first group at Hoylake this morning and made a fast start. Not that anybody should be surprised. After finishing fourth in the French Open two weeks ago and tied for eighth in the Scottish Open last weekend, Karlsson is in the throes of a real purple patch.
That, he says, is a combination of better health – both physically and mentally – and considerably improved confidence.
“I’ve been working very hard since June of last year and things are kind of coming together nicely now, so I’m happy,” he acknowledged.
It’s over three years since Robert Karlsson won the most recent of his 11 European Tour titles, a period during which he admits he has not had his struggles to seek.
“A lot of people thought it was health problems in 2012,” said Karlsson, who endured a spell on the sidelines in 2009 with an eye injury. “It was health problems but more in the brain, I think. But there we go. Last year, I didn’t play good at all last year. I feel like I didn’t have any problems like in 2012 and I still just wasn’t playing good enough.
"You can always get the swing back but it takes longer to get the confidence back." - Robert Karlsson
“I had a bit of a team talk with the guys I’m working with and we decided to have a look at old pictures, where I did well in 2008, and kind of use some of those as a sort of benchmark.”
Whilst his game was quick to return, his self-belief required much more attention.
“If you play bad for a longer period of time, you can always get the swing back but it takes longer to get the confidence back,” added Karlsson. “It always takes a bit of a battering. To pull the shots off on the course, and then to it under pressure and enjoy it as well, takes a bit of time.”
All of that makes his fast start at the Open even more impressive, though he insists he could have gone even lower.
“I didn’t play fantastic but the course is out there to make some birdies on,” he noted. “I had a lot of missed shots but had some really good recoveries, so a pretty good, solid round of golf.”
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