The Natural: Rory McIlroy

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The Natural: Rory McIlroy

June 19, 2011

RO-RY! RO-RY! RO-RY!People are always amazed by how far I hit the ball off the tee. I'm not the biggest guy out here, at 5-feet-10 and 160 pounds, but I've always been long for my size. I have a lot of natural speed. In the gym I work mostly on core stability and flexibility, which has helped make me longer. Plus, I like to swing with no fear. I'm a grip-it-and-rip-it guy. I've always played that way, and I've quickly found that nearly everyone on tour does, too. Over the ball, I think about nothing other than the target. I don't focus on technique. But, under pressure, I do use one simple swing thought: I pick a spot a foot in front of the ball and hit over it -- hard. That takes my mind off the outcome of the shot and keeps me in the process.--Rory McIlroy*

Not since the arrival of Sergio Garcia a decade ago has a young European golfer made such a dramatic and immediate impact on the world of professional golf. Less than two years after leaving the amateur game, Rory McIlroy has won on the European tour (the Dubai Desert Classic in February), tied for 20th in his first Masters (with a final-nine 31), and has performed consistently well enough to be ranked among the world's top-20 players.Not that anyone is surprised, really. The young Ulsterman -- he turned 20 in May -- has been a star at every level of the game. At 16 he was Ireland's Amateur champion. A year later he had added the European Amateur title. And before he turned pro he was the No. 1 amateur in the world.The most striking aspect of young McIlroy is not his list of victories or achievements, however. It's the rhythm of his swing and the ease with which he hits the ball. "Rory's swing does have a wonderful flow to it, always has," says Michael Bannon, head professional at Bangor Golf Club in Northern Ireland and McIlroy's only teacher. "You can tell how comfortable he is by the speed at which he plays. All he needs is a couple of looks at the target before he hits."Such instinctiveness is the result of hard work as well as inborn talent. "We've always focused on Rory's posture, alignment and ball position," says Bannon. "They are where we want them, but we keep a constant eye on them. If he's been playing in windy conditions, he sometimes lets the ball creep back in his stance. He also has a tendency to narrow his stance a wee bit too much for the short irons.I like the width to stay constant so he can stand into his right leg on the backswing."How good is Rory's move? Says Geoff Ogilvy: "He might have the best swing out here."

Good, athletic posture; Rory looks ready to swing the club. We never go a session without checking his setup fundamentals.Good, athletic posture; Rory looks ready to swing the club. We never go a session without checking his setup fundamentals.

Rory's takeaway is very much one-piece, the club-head, arms and shoulders moving together. With the club at parallel, his wrists start hinging.Rory's takeaway is very much one-piece, the club-head, arms and shoulders moving together. With the club at parallel, his wrists start hinging.

Halfway back, his right elbow starts to fold and his wrists continue to hinge. He has already made a big shoulder turn. No part is working without the others.

I love that his left arm has stayed so straight and his turn is so full, about 110 degrees. Also, you can see the clubface is parallel to his left arm -- that's square.

As Rory turns back to the ball, the club is lowered into a "holding" position by the movement of his lower body. He's making a very strong move here, with the wrist angle between the club and his left arm retained.As Rory turns back to the ball, the club is lowered into a "holding" position by the movement of his lower body. He's making a very strong move here, with the wrist angle between the club and his left arm retained.

Like a natural throwing motion, his left side has cleared so his right side can complete the "throw" to the target.Like a natural throwing motion, his left side has cleared so his right side can complete the "throw" to the target.

Just after impact, his right leg tends to lock up -- that's something we're working on in his driving. I'd like to see it stay softer, as it does with his iron shots.Just after impact, his right leg tends to lock up -- that's something we're working on in his driving. I'd like to see it stay softer, as it does with his iron shots.

This is a lovely finish, reflecting his great balance and rhythm. He does this on every swing, from a pitch to the driver. You'll never see him fall back off a shot.This is a lovely finish, reflecting his great balance and rhythm. He does this on every swing, from a pitch to the driver. You'll never see him fall back off a shot.

Rory's takeaway is very much one-piece, the club-head, arms and shoulders moving together. With the club at parallel, his wrists start hinging.

Halfway back, his right elbow starts to fold and his wrists continue to hinge. He has already made a big shoulder turn. No part is working without the others.

As Rory turns back to the ball, the club is lowered into a "holding" position by the movement of his lower body. He's making a very strong move here, with the wrist angle between the club and his left arm retained.

Like a natural throwing motion, his left side has cleared so his right side can complete the "throw" to the target.

This is a lovely finish, reflecting his great balance and rhythm. He does this on every swing, from a pitch to the driver. You'll never see him fall back off a shot.

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