StatsMay 18, 2015

Imagine how good Rory McIlroy could be if he was a great putter

In an era of such great depth, few thought any golfer could come along and dominate quite like Tiger Woods did during his peak. But Rory McIlroy has come pretty darn close in the last calendar year.

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After his rout at Quail Hollow, McIlroy has won five times on the PGA Tour and twice on the European Tour during the past 12 months. In that span, he's won two majors, two World Golf Championships and had a seven-shot blowout. He has finished outside the top 25 just once in the past two seasons on the PGA Tour and inside the top 10 in 75 percent of his events.

Now imagine how good he'd be if he was a great putter.

Even after a strong showing on the greens at Quail Hollow, McIlroy currently ranks 69th in strokes gained/putting on the PGA Tour. That has been offset by McIlroy easily leading the way in strokes gained/tee to green, thanks in large part to his prodigious driving.

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When Woods dominated, he relied a lot more on his putter. The PGA Tour didn't keep track of strokes gained/putting until 2004, but he was second that year and was out of the top 10 just once through 2009. We'll assume the man considered by many to be one of the greatest putters ever would have ranked pretty high during 2000 as well.

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The good news for McIlroy is he seems to be improving in this area. He was ranked 145th on tour his rookie season in strokes gained/putting at -.226 before improving to -.128 in 2011 and jumping to .088 and being ranked No. 82 in 2012. He regressed to 117th during his slump year of 2013, but bounced back to have his best putting season in 2014 at .273 and ranked 41st.

McIlroy has worked with putting coach Dave Stockton on putting to a spot and keeping the back of his left hand going toward the target during the stroke. Kinda like he does in this video of him making 55 consecutive eight-footers in practice at last year's Tour Championship.

Stockton started working with Rory just a few weeks after McIlroy's meltdown at the 2011 Masters, and the 10 PGA Tour titles and four majors McIlroy's won in the four years since have been impressive. But if he keeps getting better on the greens, who knows how good the next four years can be.

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