Golf legend Curtis Strange has again stepped forward to back the state of Rory McIlroy’s game just six days to the Masters.
Strange, a winner of two US Opens, played in 20 Masters with a best finish of joint runner-up in 1985 to Bernhard Langer. Now as an analyst for ESPN, Strange is one of the more astute observers working for the US TV networks.
Eight years ago, a week out from the Masters, Strange spoke-up for McIlroy when he was being criticised by Nick Faldo and Johnny Miller for overhauling his equipment heading into Augusta. Strange, again just prior to the 2019 Masters, was also full of praise for McIlroy after winning the Players Championship; a win that was huge for McIlroy to take into the Masters. And now Strange is working again in fending off the McIlroy knockers.
“With Rory’s ability, he is one swing thought away from shooting 65 every day and I don’t think he’s that far off,” said Strange.
“It seems like to me he went after distance. He’s admitted that. It messed him up a little bit. Now he’s got to go back. How long it takes him to get back to a comfort zone, only he knows, and maybe he doesn’t know.
“Currently, he’s only hitting 57 percent of the fairways. He’s 148th on tour. That’s enough said. At Augusta National, the margins for hitting the greens from the middle of the fairway are tough enough when they get firm and fast. From wayward angles and a little bit of rough makes the margins even much, much tougher than an ordinary golf course.
“Rory’s got to drive a little bit better, although statistically he’s never been a good driver with the golf ball. Augusta fits his game. He’s so talented. It’s amazing to me that he hasn’t won here yet. I certainly expect him to, but this year, he’s going to have to find something quickly, to be quite honest with you.”
And while the 66-year-old Strange has been a good PR spokesperson for McIlroy, there is one question he has raised and it’s been McIlroy’s confessed move in trying to emulate Bryson DeChambeau’s power game.
“Why did he chase something that may not have been necessary, distance?” added Strange.
“You’ve got to remember Rory is 5’10”, 165, and he’s chasing a guy, potentially DeChambeau, who’s out there doing this experiment, who’s 6’1″, 240. So that in itself seems kind of odd to me. Rory was plenty long enough, plenty capable, and really, quite frankly, has a whole helluva lot more talent than most people on tour. So why?”