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How Rory McIlroy has given me motivation to improve during coronavirus shut-down, explains Stephanie Meadow


In the saddle: Stephanie Meadow on her Peloton bike

In the saddle: Stephanie Meadow on her Peloton bike

Looking up: Stephanie Meadow has an all new mindset on the course

Looking up: Stephanie Meadow has an all new mindset on the course

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In the saddle: Stephanie Meadow on her Peloton bike

Stephanie Meadow is relishing the moment when she steps out onto the first tee again with everything on the line, but for now it's about keeping body and mind in tune as the world waits for the end of the coronavirus threat.

The Phoenix-based Ulster woman, who had made a solid start to the LPGA Tour season, summed up the thoughts of most when admitting the current crisis "feels like a bad movie".

While obviously frustrated that her season has been halted, the 28-year-old has had the opportunity to challenge her fellow players from both major Tours, including World No.1 Rory McIlroy, on the Peloton streaming spin class.

"I've some dumbbells at home so I can do some work with them but last year I got a Peloton bike and it has turned out to be a real God-send," said Meadow.

"Lots of the players on the PGA Tour are having some competition, posting their scores at the end of it and it's pretty clear that Rory is way out in front.

"Everything is measured at the end of the workout and Rory's scores are ridiculously good, it's a joke. I thought I was fit until I saw his scores!

"It's a bit of fun but also a good way to maintain fitness and stay in shape which is crucial because we just don't know when the Tour will be back on.

"It's particularly important for me to be able to use the bike because when I was about 16 I suffered from stress fractures in my shins because I was doing so much running. So, because I don't do any running I have to get that fitness from elsewhere and the bike is great for that.

"We all have that competitive nature so that comes out when we look at the scores at the end of a session and of course when you go back you want to beat them.

"It's a bit weird having to stay in the house so much and finding things to do so I've been reorganising the house a bit, watching a lot more Netflix and also trying out some new recipes.

"I enjoy cooking but I've been trying to learn to do some new things like Chinese and Thai food - some have been good and some not so good!"

When it comes to keeping her golf in trim, Meadow is still able to use a couple of nearby courses which have, up to this point, remained open.

The cancellation of the LPGA Tour could hardly have come at a worse time for the 28-year-old, who after three events was standing at 22nd in the world on the current points table.

Having tied 20th and 13th in two events Down Under, including the Australian Open, Meadow felt the work she had done in the off-season was paying off.

Then came the hammer blow that the coronavirus had taken its toll on golf.

"Here in Phoenix there have been 100 people who have tested for the virus but they're at a point now that they only have enough to test those in the hospital. It's hard for everyone and you just want everybody to be safe," added Meadow.

"I'm able to go across to one of the clubs and do some work. They've made sure that there is social distancing having widened the range slots and there can only be one person per golf cart, so for now I can still hit a few balls.

"It was very frustrating at the time when the email came through from the Tour commissioner to say that the Tour was cancelled because I was pretty excited at the momentum I had in my game.

"I feel this season I am mentally better on the course, I'm not making the kind of stupid mistakes I did last year. I've got a different mindset this year and now I'm putting a lot more good rounds together my confidence has grown.

"The shift in mindset was away from just thinking about the process and then worrying about whether I'm focused enough on that to being more natural and allowing myself to show some emotion because that's when I play at my best.

"It's not that I'm throwing a temper tantrum on the course but just allowing my natural competitiveness and intensity to come out and it works.

"I know a lot of people don't like to have goals when they start a round but I do. I want to be striving for something."

While Meadow is able to maintain a positive state of mind, she does admit to having some concern for those who do not have the same financial support - in particular those players who are competing on the second-tier tour, the Symetra Tour.

"Investec and ATA have been very good to me - their continued support means I can continue to follow my dream. That kind of backing is so important, particularly at a time like this," said Meadow.

"That's why I do have some concerns about the girls on the Symetra Tour, many of whom don't have any sponsors and some have just come out of college so it's going to be very hard for them to keep going.

"I'm just very thankful that when the Tour returns, I will be ready to go again."

Belfast Telegraph