Rory McIlroy will begin working with legendary English swing coach Pete Cowen as he looks to rediscover his Major winning form in time for the Masters.
Friend, colleague and fellow AGW member Jamie Corrigan first set tongues wagging that McIlroy is now working with Cowen in an article appearing in his London Daily Telegraph. And overnight ESPN has confirmed a text message from McIlroy’s agent, Sean O’Flaherty stating, “Pete is an addition to Rory’s performance team”.
That would suggest that McIlroy’s near 25-year relationship with life-long coach, Michael Bannon is continuing but with Covid-19 restrictions still plaguing international travel, McIlroy obviously feels he needs somebody based in the U.S. like he is, while an extra set of eyes on a swing that has deserted him of late won’t do the 31-year old any harm.
Cowen could be the best man for that job having worked with some of the best in the game including Lee Westwood, Henrik Stenson and more recently Brooks Koepka, and yes, he’s worked with McIlroy in the past, including during Cowen’s days as the coach of the Irish men’s golf team, while the two were also spotted together on the range following McIlroy’s shock opening score of 79 at the recent Players Championship.
It can be argued that the worldwide pandemic has meant Bannon may be restricted in able to travel to the US to be alongside McIlroy but then on the flipside of the coin, Cowen has been present on the range most weeks at PGA Tour stops and maybe McIlroy simply needs a familiar face to keep an eye on his swing. If so, Cowen would be a natural to turn to.
Bannon was the professional at Bangor Golf Club, and previously at Holywood Golf Club, where he first began working with a curly-haired, freckle-faced McIlroy. He went to work full-time with McIlroy in October, 2012.
McIlroy did speak after missing the TPC Sawgrass cut that he was being troubled by swing issues: “Doing a little bit of speed training, started getting sucked into that stuff, swing got flat, long and too rotational,” said McIlroy.
“I added some speed and am hitting the ball longer, but what that did to my swing as a whole probably wasn’t a good thing, so I’m sort of fighting to get back out of that. That’s what I’m frustrated with.”
At the Arnold Palmer Invitational, McIlroy indicated when asked by this journalist if he felt it was time for a change but when pressed for specifics, he appeared to dismiss the notion of a wholesale coaching change.
“I certainly didn’t mean like a change of personnel, per se. I think more of a change in philosophy,” he said. McIlroy tees up this week at the WGC-Dell Match-Play where no doubt he’ll be quizzed on the Cowen appointment and what that means for his working relationship under long-time coach, Bannon.