How He Hit That: Rory McIlroy's bomber ball speed
Rory McIlroy winning a tournament wasn't big or surprising news. He's done that a bunch in the last five years.
And the fact that he bombed his driver wasn't really new, either. He has long been the deadliest combination of distance and accuracy on the PGA Tour.
But it was the way he overpowered Quail Hollow on Saturday on his way to a course-record 62 that put an exclamation point on his ability to dominate when he's on his game.
On a 7,500-yard course, McIlroy hit a club longer than 9-iron into just two greens--both of them par-3s longer than 200 yards. Nine of his birdies came with 9-iron or wedge in his hand--a ridiculous advantage to give a player who already has so many.
There isn't a magic switch any teacher can flip to give an average amateur 340 yards of horsepower off the tee, but there are things you can take from McIlroy's swing, says top New York teacher Michael Jacobs. "For his size, Rory McIlroy is off the charts in everything--clubhead speed, hip speed, body speed, ball speed," says Jacobs, who runs the X Golf School at Rock Hill Country Club in Manorville, on Long Island. "No teacher would expect you to be able to copy that, but you can take something very important from it. Rory certainly uses all that speed to generate huge power, but a big factor in the ball speed he's able to produce is the ability to hit the center of the face time after time. That's something anybody can learn to do better."
McIlroy is able to make consistent contact with huge speed because he's never in a position where he has to manipulate the club in compensation. He's essentially free throughout his swing to pour on the speed. "He definitely has some checkpoints you can copy," says Jacobs. "At the halfway point of his backswing, his left arm is parallel to the ground and his hands are in line with the buttons on his shirt. Most people have their hands way lower at this point. At the top, his hands are above his right shoulder, and if you drew a circle around them at that point, they'd reappear in the same circle when they come down and around in the through swing. They're taking a consistent trip time after time."