Paul McGinley believes the return of an ‘inspired’ Rory McIlroy could not be more timely with three of the four remaining Major Championships this year to be staged over the coming two months.
McIlroy brilliantly ended the second-longest winless streak of his 13-year pro career albeit anxiously posting a closing hole bogey to capture a third Wells Fargo Championship at a now beloved Quail Hollow course in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Waiting for the now 19-time PGA Tour McIlroy, and for a first time at an event, was wife, Erica and daughter, Poppy and despite efforts by McIlroy to calm the tearful eight-month-old, it was a timely return to winning form for the new World No. 7, coming to fruition just weeks after formally acknowledging he had switched coaches to work with renowned Pete Cowen.
And it’s the inspiration gleaned, says McGinley, from turning to Cowen that the 2014 victorious Ryder Cup captain says has proved pivotal in McIlroy landing also what is a 28th pro career success.
“It’s not surprising Rory won and he’s up and he’s down and that’s been his way,” said McGinley. “He’s a guy, and we have been saying this for a while now, he’s an inspirational player and he needs inspiration and when the inspiration comes, he goes. Whether that inspiration has come from Peter Cowen and it probably has, as it’s something new that normally gives Rory that inspiration.
“It seems that Rory had done a lot of work behind the scenes on his course management while there was a lot of focus on being one-dimension off the tee and his course management around the golf course. We have not heard that talk a lot before from him, so maybe there is something going on in that regard, as well.
“Clearly the work with Pete Cowen is great as they are up-and-running with a win but then his statistics have not been unbelievable in how he won, as normally when he wins Rory steamrolls everyone in ‘driving off the tee’ ‘approach’ and ‘strokes gained’. They were not his stellar stats in winning and while they were good, they were not standout.”
In glancing at McIlroy’s stats for the final round he hit just three of four fairways – the first, 12th and 16th – while it was a wild 3-wood shot left off the tee at the uphill 18th that went close to spoiling any long overdue victory celebration.
“There is clearly room for improvement,” McGinley added. “Thought the most important thing is that we have inspired Rory McIlroy again. He’s got the bit between his teeth and with three major championships still to come over the next three months that is what will be our focus and also his focus is going to be around.”
McIlroy has this week off to continue working with Cowen before heading north to Kiawah Island for the May 20th commencing 103rd PGA Championship where nine years ago, he stormed his way to an eight-shot success. And McIlroy spoke of the importance of again tasting success ahead of hopefully savouring a fifth major championship success.
“This victory’s very important going into Kiawah in a couple weeks’ time”, he said. “I played really well at Kiawah the last time. I’m honestly not sure whether they’ve made any changes to the golf course since, but I’ll go up there and try to do my homework and re‑familiarise myself with the layout a little bit.
“But yeah, it’s certainly great timing. This is obviously a huge confidence boost going in there knowing that my game is closer than it has been. So, it’s still ‑‑ I mean, I’ll be able to poke holes in everything that I did today, it’s certainly far from perfect, but this one is validation that I’m on the right track.”
RORY MCILROY – WELLS FARGO VICTORY
- First win since becoming a father on 31st August, 2020
- Third Wells Fargo success (2010, 2015 & 2021) & the most in any event with two wins in seven others.
- 19th PGA Tour win in 196th start
- Now T-39th on all-time PGA TOUR wins with Ben Crenshaw, Ernie Els, Doug Ford, Hubert Green, Tom Kite and Bill Mehlhorn
- 28th overall pro career victory
- Ended second longest career winless run – 553 days (Since Nov 3rd, 2019)
- Hit just 19 of 56 Quail Hollow fairways (Only 3 on day four) and that is seven fewer than any prior winner of the Wells Fargo.
- Jumps from No. 15 (Lowest ranking since Nov, 2009) back to No. 7 on the World Rankings
- Now 10/1 favourite to win 103rdPGA Championship starting May 20th at Kiawah Island.
- Just once before – 2014 PGA Championship – has McIlroy won an event before winning a major in his following event.