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Just eight weeks ago, Rory McIlroy officially announced that Pete Cowen would become his full-time swing coach.
In that time, little has been said about the changes made to the Northern Irishman’s swing. However minimal the swing changes have been, it’s clear Cowen has found something that works.
McIlroy put together a short game masterclass on his way to victory at last weeks Wells Fargo Championship, ranking 3rd in strokes-gained putting and 2nd in scrambling – getting up-and-down 77% of the time from around the green.
Perhaps his most surprising stat for the week was his driving accuracy. McIlroy only managed to find 33% of fairways, hitting a total of 19/56. Although his misses were rarely damaging, it further highlights the benefits of having a long ball off the tee.
The four-time major champ, averaged 324 yards off the tee for the week (2nd). Since most of his misses just crept into the rough, the big hitting meant that he was left with short irons and wedges in hand for his approaches.
This proves once again (as Bryson DeChambeau did during his 2020 US Open victory) that being 30 yards longer and in the rough, is better than being 30 yards back and in the fairway.
Although they are both long hitters, that’s where the similarities between McIlroy and DeChambeau stop. Put them side-by-side and the stark contrast in physique is apparent.
However, one misconception of a power hitter is that they need to be tall. This is nonsense. At 5’8, McIlroy produces a tremendous amount of force and hand speed.
As he turns to the top, below, the amount of shoulder turn he creates is insane. McIlroy’s shoulders turn against his lower body, and he loads into the ground by flexing his knees.
The weight is now firmly into his right side, ready to be fired onto his left when he starts his downswing. This is where McIlroy shows his explosive power.
As he starts the downswing, the flex increases further. This is more than most tour players, but should be copied by anyone who wants to find a few extra yards off the tee.
McIlroy drops the club on the inside, below, which helps create the in-to-out swing needed for a draw. The problems used to occur when he wanted to hit a fade.
He’s tried to work this into his game over the last few seasons, but struggled to control it. For years, McIlroy would drop the club on the inside and square the face by flipping the hands at impact.
This requires good timing, something that McIlroy had during his most successful seasons. Trying to play a fade with the club coming so far from the inside is very difficult, which is likely one of the reasons McIlroy lost his form.
Despite the lack of fairways found, McIlroy’s dispersion is clearly getting smaller and he is able to play a fade with some consistency, resulting in his third Wells Fargo Championship title.
The world No.7 soon heads to Kiawah Island later in the month for this years PGA Championship (the site of his second major win in 2012).
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