Rory McIlroy has spoken for the first time formally following news that legendary coach Pete Cowen has now officially joined ‘Team McIlroy’.
Of course, Cowen has been offering assistance to McIlroy for a long time, since McIlroy was a junior, but it was following the recent Players Championship that it became official that the 70-year old Cowen will join McIlroy’s long-time coach, Michael Bannon, as an additional coach for the present four-time major winner.
And after having declared a media blackout ahead of this week’s WGC – Dell Match-Play Championship, and also not speaking to the media following his humbling 6&5 loss on day one to Ian Poulter, McIlroy was in a good mood post his 4&3 win against American Lanto Griffin to speak of Cowen’s role
“I think I need to preface it with Pete. We have known each other since I was 13 years old, so it’s not as if this is a new relationship. Pete and I have known each other forever,” said McIlroy. “He’s worked with a lot of players that I’ve been close with over the years, Darren Clarke, Graeme McDowell, Lee Westwood. I just felt like it was a natural fit in terms of Pete knows my goal. He’s seen me grow up swinging the golf club.
“I don’t think he has any preconceived ideas in his head of how I should swing or — and I think he puts — with what I’m struggling with in my swing at the minute, I think his coaching philosophy puts an emphasis on that in terms of getting structure in the right arm and getting that supported at the top, and I just felt like he maybe had some ideas and had maybe a little more knowledge on that part of the golf swing than what I currently had, and that’s the reason that I — and all the other stuff, all the great players he’s worked with. His short game expertise is unbelievable, as well, and I think just picking up those little nuggets from him is only going to help in the long run,”
That was an impassioned statement and it led to McIlroy being asked to confirm Bannon’s ‘going forward’ role with the now 62-year old having coached McIlroy since he was seven years old. And as we have been reporting, it has had much to do with Bannon being able to travel due to COVID-19 restrictions out-and-back to Ireland that Bannon simply has been unable to travel to the States as Cowen has.
“Michael is like a second dad to me, so it’s not as if — Michael and I’s relationship and, I guess, agreement is still the same,” said McIlroy.
“It’s just the fact that I haven’t been able to see him as much recently, and then the times that I have, because there hasn’t been much continuity there, it feels like it just got a bit — every time we saw each other it was almost like we were trying to do too much, so it felt like — not a rebuild, but it just felt like, okay, where I think Pete is out on TOUR enough, as well, to sort of give me maybe feels that I can play with and then stuff that I can work on on the range, because as everyone knows, it’s so hard to go out on the golf course and think so much about your golf swing.
“You need to be able to let that go and just be able to play shots. But if you have a couple little feels in there, it can help, and that’s sort of the reason that I’ve went down this road.”
Well said, Rory.