McIlroy’s newest team member could hold the key to Masters success

Bernie McGuire
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McIlroy’s newest team member could hold the key to Masters success

Rory McIlroy eyeing up a shot on the par-3 12th (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

This year there is a new member of Rory McIlroy’s Masters team and she could be the one person to help deliver McIlroy success at Augusta National.

McIlroy arrived in Augusta earlier this week with a less than normal Masters entourage compared to his 11 prior years checking into their rented Augusta premises located just a short drive from the Washington Road front gates to the famed Georgia golf club. Making her Masters debut is 10-week old daughter, Poppy Kennedy and already she’s making a big impact, despite spending much of the day sleeping. It’s the first time McIlroy, his wife, Erica and daughter have attended a tournament as a family unit.

“I don’t know if there’s been any influence but it has probably changed my outlook on life a little bit more,” McIroy said. “I think I grew up as an only child and an only child playing golf, so I feel like the whole world revolved around me for a long time, and now it doesn’t.  It revolves around this little person that came into the world a few weeks ago, and it’s a nice change of pace. It’s different.

“I was even saying, getting up here, the first day, playing yesterday, getting back to the house, like there was no thought of turning the TV on. There was no thought of going on my phone. It was just go and see her and play a little bit before she goes to bed. It’s nice to take your mind off things, too. But yeah, in a way it’s, you know, as I said, I think you need to be a pretty selfish person to be a good player at this game, and a little bit of selflessness probably isn’t a bad thing for me.”

And while there was another passenger aboard ‘McIlroy Airways’ there was the excess luggage that McIlroy is now more than 12 months removed from his last victory and that being the 2019 WGC – HSBC Champions in far off Shanghai. His best finish in his dozen Tour events since the June 11th lifting of the lockdown has been back-to-back T8th results at the Tour Championship in Atlanta and also the U.S. Open.

“Honestly I do feel good,” when asked to report on the state of his game. “I’d say over the last two months I’ve worked on some technical stuff in my swing that I needed to. My swing was getting very flat and very deep underneath the plane on the way down. I feel like I had to sort of hang on to it through impact to hit it straight, where now it’s getting back down on plane, I feel I can fully release it and the ball is going ‑‑ it’s starting straight.  I don’t have to feel like I hold onto it to hit a straight shot. That sort of has given me a nice bit of freedom throughout my swing. I don’t really have the fear of the left as I had sort of during the summer.”

So, and without stating the obvious, what does McIlroy have to do to finally be fitted with the most desired item of clothing in the men’s professional game?

“This week, it’s to take advantage of the holes that you can, play smart on the other ones,” he said. “And if you can do that and think a little bit better and concentrate a little bit more, and just limit your mistakes, that’s always a good thing around here. You’re sort of making sure that you make no worse than a bogey on any hole. That’s something that I probably haven’t done here that well in the past. I’ve made a few big numbers, and if you can limit those, yeah, take your medicine, be smart, punch out of trees, not try to be a hero, that all can sort of add up to at the end of the week to saving a few shots here and there.”


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