Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger using a European golf tour as prep for '12 season

Ben Roethlisberger checks out his shot during an '09 tournament

NEW YORK – Ben Roethlisberger will prepare himself for the new NFL season by embarking upon an extraordinary golfing marathon he believes will sharpen his focus in advance of the 2012 campaign.

The Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback is heading to Ireland and Scotland in June, where he will play some of the finest and most difficult courses in the world. But Roethlisberger insists the trip is not simply about recharging his batteries over the summer; it is designed to provide him with a mental challenge that will serve him well once football rolls around again.

"It is going to be pretty hardcore," Roethlisberger told Yahoo! Sports. "I will be playing something like 12 courses in 10 days and they are some of the very best ones that you can find. I'm going to the K Club, St Andrews, and a bunch of others."

The K Club, just outside the Irish capital of Dublin, hosted the 2006 Ryder Cup, and St Andrews is renowned worldwide as the spiritual home of golf.

Of the 12 courses, several have hosted either the British Open or European Tour events. Roethlisberger is an avid golfer and once dated LPGA star Natalie Gulbis.

"Golf is such a mental challenge, and as frustrating as it can be sometimes, it can definitely make you stronger," said Roethlisberger, who passed for 4,077 yards last season. "Playing some great courses in a setting like Ireland and Scotland will be pretty awesome, but it is also a great way to keep your mind sharp.

"You really have to think your way around and get the grips with the course and the difficulties it offers you. I am a pretty cerebral guy, so it is perfect to have that kind of activity in the offseason that keeps your brain ticking."

Last season ended in disappointment for Roethlisberger and the Steelers as they suffered an overtime defeat to the Denver Broncos in the AFC wild-card game. Big Ben hobbled into the game with a bad ankle injury among other ailments and the road to physical recovery has been painful.

"Normally you finally start to feel good physically, and then training camp starts and it begins all over again," Roethlisberger said. "This time it has been a bit tougher to get myself right but I will be good and ready to go.

"Any time your season ends like that you have just got to get over it. Come back stronger the next year and make sure you get better."

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