McIlroy sets the record straight: “Michael has always been my coach”

John Craven

Rory McIlroy with Michael Bannon and Harry Diamond in Dubai this week (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

Ahead of Thursday’s starting DP World Tour Championship, Rory McIlroy has told the golfing world that lifelong coach Michael Bannon never left the picture despite Pete Cowen’s appointment to his backroom team earlier this year.

McIlroy announced last week that he and Cowen had parted ways after an eight-month stretch that resulted in two Tour victories, declaring “Michael and I are back working together. I’ve always had a relationship with Pete and I’ll ask for his input if I feel I need it. But now it’s Michael and me.”

In reality, Bannon had never gone away – McIlroy seeking Cowen was borne out of Bannon’s inability to travel during Covid than anything else. And although McIlroy admitted to chasing something he wasn’t in an apparent identity crisis for the now world number eight, McIlroy seems to be back on a much more solid footing, with Bannon by his side and a sense of self restored.

“Michael has always been my coach,” McIlroy said. “He’s coached me since I was 8 years old. He’s always been there, even if he wasn’t visible, he’s been in the background for the last six months, and I think Michael knows my swing and my game better than I probably know it at this point.

“I just thought with the struggles that I had, especially at the Ryder Cup, it’s funny, I talked to him at length after the Ryder Cup, and we had organised for him to come out the week after Vegas to start working again, and obviously I went and won Vegas.

“But those two weeks in between the Ryder Cup and Vegas, I feel like I figured a few things out on my own. Which sometimes you need to do. Sometimes you need to go and throw hundreds of balls down on the range and hit some and figure it out on your own.

“And I feel like I did that. I’m not saying that I don’t need any help ever again and I’ve got figured it out, but I talked about it in Vegas, just about being myself and not trying to do anything that other people do or what I can’t do.

“I guess I went to Vegas with a little more self-belief and I won that tournament, and that gave me even more confidence. And then if anything, Michael is more of a sounding board at this point. I say to him this is what I’m trying to do. Tell me if I’m completely not right.

“But again like I’ve played golf a long time. I think I know what I’m doing for the most part. And that was really it. I said last week I’ve always had a relationship with Pete, I’ve known Pete since I was 13 years old from the Irish setup, and if I want to ask his opinion on something, I can still do that.

“If I feel like I need his input, I’ll ask for it. As of right now, I’m happy with the setup that I’ve basically always had, and I’m excited for the road ahead.”


  • Rory McIlroy – 7.25am
  • Shane Lowry – 7.35am


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