Monkey-hanger Storm wants inner chimp to deliver

OVERCOMING HIS PROBLEMS: Graeme Storm has turned to a tried and trusted book to improve his game

OVERCOMING HIS PROBLEMS: Graeme Storm has turned to a tried and trusted book to improve his game

First published in Sport The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Football/Golf Writer

HARTLEPOOL golfer Graeme Storm wants to get the monkey off his back and has his head in a book in the hope of returning to European Tour glory.

In the build up to last summer's London Games, it was said by psychiatrist Dr Steve Peters that some of the riders were aware of the 'danger of allowing the Olympics to haunt them'.

Peters' work with two of Team GB's cycling team, most notably Victoria Pendleton and Sir Chris Hoy, helped to banish such ghosts and has been noted up and down the country - and across different sports - since.

And when Rockliffe Hall pro Storm resumes his Tour career later today in the Middle East, the 34-year-old readily admits he has been looking to Dr Peters for inspiration on the greens.

He might not have been heading for lunch meetings with the man often described inside British cycling as the 'head' coach, but he has been trying to tune in to his way of thinking.

Storm has been struggling to make inroads in the Tour's top 100 over the last few years and cites a constant battle with his mind as one of the reasons for failing to make the most of his undoubted talent.

And he has been reading Dr Peters' The Chimp Paradox for help. The work is a mind-management programme suggesting the irrational, emotional side of a personality is depicted as a chimp. The book tries to teach people how to train your chimp and basically control your thinking.

Storm, often let down by one of his four rounds when a top ten place has looked to be on the cards, said: "It's not like a bloke from Hartlepool to be talking about monkeys is it?! But I've been reading a book to try to keep my mind as free as possible, not to bog myself down.

"When I think too much about my golf swing, or think too much about the mental side, it costs me. Whenever I cloud my judgement it knocks my performance.

"If I can get the enjoyment back in to the game, not get bogged down with the bad shots, then I will be fine. It's about your inner chimp. Victoria Pendleton, Liverpool Football Club have been too"

Storm has never made any secret of his battle for confidence, but when he tees off in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship at 9.05am alongside Peter Whiteford and Robert Coles he will be trying to keep his mind clear.

He started the new season with a tied 55th placing at the Alfred Dunhill Championship in mid-December, collecting around £3,800 for his efforts.

He knows, though, that much higher finishes are required not only to keep his inner chimp feeling better but also to feel like his career still has a tournament success in it.

Storm has not won a second title since the French Open in 2007 and now, with two young children often left at home with his wife while he heads around the world, he is desperate for an improvement in results.

Four top 50 finishes towards the end of last season secured his Tour card for a further season, but he does not want to leave it late this time around.

"It's harder now to leave the family behind when things are not going well," he said. "I'm out here for a couple of weeks then home and then I'm heading to South Africa for a month. It is harder to leave the family behind, you don't want to be struggling when you are away. It is all about confidence.

"Because I'm getting older, sometimes I go to the range and my golf swing doesn't feel right. It can be frustrating. Some days I can feel like I have got it back and then it can get me down.

"It feels like I'm putting the graft in but not getting the rewards. When I was younger I would just brush it off, now I'm older it is as important as it ever has been. I don't want to be a player that doesn't move forward with a quick-changing game. I don't want to stagnate."

In recent years he has struggled with an ever-changing number of caddies. Storm has at least retained the same bag-man he ended last season with, Julian Phillips.

"That's good, it was working quite well," said Storm. "Hopefully it will help because I'm not changing too much else. There's some new irons on the horizon, I've got a new driver, but I'm still with TaylorMade.

"But above all I think that a high finish is what I need just to get me really going. If I can get a good start to the season, push on, a top five finish would really lift my confidence moving forward."

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