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It was another all too familiar display from Rory McIlroy at Royal Liverpool.

For any other golfer, a tied for sixth finish would be applauded, and so it should be for the 34-year-old too, but once again, it was the putter that kept McIlroy from seriously contending in a major.

McIlroy eventually finished on six-under-par, seven shots behind Champion Golfer of the Year Brian Harman.

The stats tell one story, but McIlroy’s post-round visit to the putting green following his round on Saturday tells another.

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After a third round of 69, where the four-time major champion ranked 65th in putting (from a field of 76), his frustration was clear.

Once again, a day of tremendous ball striking, where he ranked second in Strokes Gained: Approach, was accompanied by a day of lacklustre putting, a tale all too familiar to his fans.

In videos that began to circulate, however, some began to point out the same thing, an issue with his technique with the flatstick.

Essentially, McIlroy has a tendency to lift the handle of his TaylorMade Spider putter up and to the left.

Additionally, when McIlroy lifts the putter too high, he hits the centre of the ball with the bottom of his putter. Basically, he’s catching the ball thin, leading to a roll that isn’t going to produce great results.

As Jonathan Yarwood, who coached Michael Campbell to his 2005 US Open title, explains, McIlroy’s stroke is just a little out of sync.

According to Yarwood, Rory’s chest gets ahead of his hands and his left arm gets disconnected from the body. It’s a small thing, but at this level where margins are so fine, it makes a huge difference.

The solution, Yarwood says, is a slower chest through impact, with the clubhead staying lower through the stroke.

Of course, McIlroy already has expert eyes in his team. Putting guru Brad Faxon has been working with McIlroy since 2018 and it’s an issue they are both aware of.

After McIlroy’s win at the Genesis Scottish Open, he explained it’s something he’s working on tempering in his technique on the greens.

“I knew the one thing over here for me is if I have a tendency with my putter, the putter rises up too quickly and I get it on sort of the bottom half of the blade,” said the 24-time PGA Tour winner. “I’m really trying to keep the putter low through impact and trying to get a roll on it and a good strike.

“That’s sort of the one thing of my putting that I was thinking about this week.”

Rory McIlroy putting shoes

Can Rory McIlroy win another major?

The answer to that is undoubtedly ‘Yes,’ but whether he will or not, seems to rely on the putter behaving.

At the Genesis Scottish Open, McIlroy showed that he absolutely can hole putts when needed, but it’s not quite happened at the majors since 2014.

As two-time Open winner Padraig Harrington explained, Rory’s B-game won’t cut it in these events, particularly with the quality in men’s professional golf right now.

“He’s easily good enough. We all know that. He could win at any stage. But as I said, it’s a little bit more complicated than just being good enough,” explained Harrington, who heads to Royal Porthcawl for this week’s Senior Open Championship.

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“There’s other guys who are good enough. There’s plenty of guys out here. The standard is very deep. Plenty of guys who are competing and playing.

“Rory has to bring his A-game. That’s just it. I see he’s pretty much down where I am putting this week, and I can tell you that’s pretty miserable. He’s not going to win tournaments putting like that this week. 

“Not saying he’s putting badly, but the fact is he’s probably given up 13 shots to Brian Harman, 12 in putts. I only had given up 14. 

“But that’s what I’m saying. There’s too many good players for you to go out there and not have all of your game at a decent level and some of your game at a really good level.

“That’s just the way it is.”

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Lewis Fraser As bunkered’s Performance Editor, Lewis oversees the content that’s designed to make you a better player. From the latest gear to tuition, nutrition, strategy and more, he’s the man. A graduate of the University of Stirling, Lewis joined bunkered in 2021. Formerly a caddie at Castle Stuart Golf Links, he is a member of Bathgate Golf Club where he plays off four.

Performance Editor

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