Rory McIlroy will hope a change in his wedges can reap rewards in the New Year after a mixed bag from the world number nine in 2021.
The Holywood star, who enjoyed two victories on the PGA Tour at the Wells Fargo in May and the CJ Cup in October, ended the season with back-to-back frustrations, first, at the DP World Tour Championship where a final round 74 whittled away his winning chances before failing to back-up a first round lead at the Hero World Challenge and eventually finishing 18th of 20 players in his season-ending event.
The four-time Major winner ranked 71st on the PGA Tour for Strokes Gained around the green last season, poor by his own lofty standards, and so it came as no surprise that McIlroy sought change.
The TaylorMade player had been using the company’s Milled Grind 2 (MG2) wedges in 54 and 58 degree options but he’s swapped them out for the latest MG3 models. He’d been gaming the 46-degree MG3 wedge but ended his year in the Bahamas with a full arsenal of MG3 wedges. TaylorMade say McIlroy has chosen higher bounce variations in his wedges, going from 8 degrees of bounce in his 58-degree wedge to 14 degrees.
“Bounce is certainly your friend,” McIlroy said in the Bahamas.
“I mean, especially on a course like this week, really grainy, it’s helped a lot around the greens. I just have more trust in it, just more trust it’s not going to dig, it’s going to get out of the ground a little bit easier.”
If you needed reminding, bounce relates to the angle of the leading edge of the wedge and the low part of the sole. The mathematics say that the higher the leading edge is off the turf, then the higher the bounce, which should mean more forgiveness playing from longer grass.
McIlroy will return to the fairways for a January double-header in the Middle East at the Abu Dhabi Championship from January 20 before the January 27 starting Dubai Desert Classic.
Back working with life-long coach Michael Bannon, and firmly believing he’s on the right track as he looks to rediscover his Major winning form of 2014, McIlroy won’t be putting the clubs away for the extended Christmas break, further evidence that he believes he’s onto something in his pursuit of the game’s biggest prizes in 2022.
“I wish it was a different time of the year the way I’m playing, but there’s no reason why I can’t pick up again in January and keep playing the way I’m playing,” he said.
“I’m still going to keep myself ticking over these next few weeks, I’m not going to completely shut the clubs away for a few weeks. Maybe two or three times a week I’ll get out there and play and practice, just maybe not take a complete break like I’ve done before because my game is in good shape and I want to keep it there.”