It’s no secret that Rory McIlroy has been driving the ball superbly. His performance at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational is proof of that. However, the new world No.1 insists improving his wedge play has been central to his recent success.
Speaking ahead of the PGA Championship at Valhalla, the 25-year-old – who is hoping for a repeat of his 2012 triumph at the tournament - was quick to point to his work with his wedges as a major factor behind his good form.
"I feel like my wedge play has gotten a lot better over the past few months.” - Rory McIlroy
“My wedge play has come up a good bit,” said the Northern Irishman. “You know, as you can imagine, when I drive the ball well, I have a lot of wedges in my hand.
“I wasn't being efficient enough. I wasn't taking advantage of some of the drives I was hitting, so my wedge play had to get better. I feel like my wedge play has gotten a lot better over the past few months.”
His upturn in fortunes from around 150 yards and in has allowed the three-time major winner to go after birdies on a much larger scale.
On the PGA Tour, from 50 to 75 yards to the green, the Open champ is 11th in the overall standings for getting it closest. From 125 to 150 yards to the flag, he ranks 12th. When you drive the ball an average of 310 yards like Rory, improving your wedge play can make all the difference.
Last week at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational was the perfect example. McIlroy hit 16 greens on Firestone’s course, four more than his tour average of 12. Getting it close from 150-yards in and less was an integral part of his final round 66.
“Going into like a final round, like last week, I hit 16 greens on Sunday,” said McIlroy, who edged out Sergio Garcia by two shots at Firestone.
“So, to hit 16 greens in regulation on a Sunday - when you need to give yourself chances for birdies to come from behind trying to win - that gives me confidence.
“Knowing that my ball‑striking is in a place like that where I can go and give myself basically a birdie opportunity on every hole .”
Rory McIlroy at the PGA Championship
Video from PGA Tour Youtube channel
Will Rory McIlroy win at Valhalla this week and make it three wins on the spin? Or will some else claim the final major of the season?
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