Rory McIlroy working on regaining his driving advantage in advance of Wells Fargo Championship
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Rory McIlroy has long built his game around the success of his driving. So when he struggled mightily with it in the first major of the year, the Masters, there was work to be done.
Last week, McIlroy, who ranked 58th in the field in fairways hit at 59 percent at Augusta National, spent a few days with his coach Michael Bannon trying to iron out some lingering issues. It helped, too, given new technology rolled out by the tournament this year, that he could go back and watch every shot he hit that week.
“There's a few particular shots that I struggled with that week,” he said Wednesday from the Wells Fargo Championship, which will be his first start since a T-21 at the Masters. It was his worst finish there since a T-25 in 2013. “The second shot into 11 and the tee shot on 17, I struggled with both of those shots throughout the four days. So I just went back and looked at those and looked at the swings that I made and sort of noticed a couple things in my swing that were sort of getting off.
“I felt like going into Augusta, if I wanted to shape one, I would shape it a lot right-to-left, or I would shape it a lot left-to-right where you're aiming so far in either direction you're playing for a big curve or a big miss and that's never really been my game.”
In a more technical sense, he didn’t have as much tilt in his hip hinge, which resulted in his shoulder plane getting too flat. As a result, his club and arms were getting behind him early in the swing, leading to timing issues.
“I was sort of coming up out of my posture and sort of falling back on my heels,” he said. “I went back to swings from a few years ago and I almost used to go the other way where I would lose height in the backswing and then I'd come back up, where this year it's almost like getting tight in the backswing and then have to come down.”
How long did it take to fix? He’ll get back to you on that.
“There's still some shots I get over this week and I'm a little uncomfortable,” McIlroy said.
Perhaps a return to Quail Hollow will help.
Twice McIlroy has won here, in 2010 and 2015. He also lost in a playoff in 2012.
In eight starts this year, McIlroy has finished outside the top 10 just once — at the Masters — and is only three starts removed from a victory at the Players Championship.
He’ll also turn 30 years old on Saturday this week. A few more fairways hit might lead to a pretty good birthday present.