Molly Picklum returns to Bells Beach a different surfer.

Molly Picklum
Molly Picklum

Molly Picklum competing at Bells Beach is not the same surfer who made her debut at the iconic event a year ago.

Picklum became the first Australian woman to win the invitational Vans Pipe Masters in Hawaii in December.

On her return to the North Shore in February, she won her first world tour event and she will start the Rip Curl Pro this week as world No.1.

A year ago, she was a first-round elimination at Bells.

Picklum then missed the dreaded mid-season cut and became such a mess she could barely stand up in two-foot surf later in the year at a qualifying event in South Africa.

Then came the reset.

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Aided by a strong support network that includes her coach Glenn Hall and sports psychologist Jason Patchell, the 20-year-old channelled her obsessive ways into a new passion – golf.

“It all unfolded … I was too obsessive. As surfers, you can’t be clinging on to one thing, you have to be flowing, you’re in water, you have to be like water in a sense – reacting and flowing,” Picklum told AAP.

“I lost all connection with the ocean and I lost all connection with myself.

“I got all obsessive on golf and let go a bit, had some free movement and flow in surfing.

“It was a huge life lesson.”

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Picklum knows exactly when the turning point came.

My brain finally, completely let go of surfing,” she said.

“I remember the moment – I woke up the next day after playing golf … I was actually thinking of my golf swing.”

From there, Picklum went through the difficult process of requalifying for the world tour, then went to Hawaii and had the biggest win of her young career.

She pocketed $US100,000 ($149,000) which Picklum famously said would eventually go on a house deposit.

“I came through it and I just kept chipping away. Then December, I was really excited about that opportunity.

“It was a cool little moment to end my year and by then I knew I’d qualified, too. To have won, (it) definitely gave the burn of ‘this is it, we’re on, this is the start’.”

Picklum is now at Bells Beach not worried about what happened a year ago, but determined to show what she can do at one of surfing’s most famous venues.

“I’m in a very different position this year and I feel that. I feel strong, I feel confident in my surfing,” she said.

“I’m excited to see how it goes out there in the Bowl. It’s a wave that’s quite raw and rogue – if you’re a bit hesitant and not putting it back to it, then it can throw you off.

“I feel like I’m a bit more at ease with this wave and I’m not trying to figure out the perfect line-ups or whatever.”

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