Rory McIlroy has tried it all before driving down Magnolia Lane at Augusta National.
He’s teed it up at the Masters as world number one, world number ten, he’s played a stretch of golf before the tournament and he’s taken weeks off before Augusta to avoid fatigue – although he seemed to sacrifice sharpness.
McIlroy has been there, done that but not got the green jacket when it comes to his trials and tribulations at Augusta National. At 33-years-old the Holywood native has plenty of rolls of the dice left but this April he will be hoping his number comes up on the greens with putting set to be the key to finally completing the career grand slam and winning a first major title in nine years.
“Oh, I mean, if you can go in there with — seeing putts go in the hole and seeing putts go in the hole the correct way. So leading up to Augusta a lot of your work on the greens will be more to do with speed. Dropping the ball in on the high side of the hole. Trying to make these big breaking putts.
“There’s a lot of like little fun games that we play. I don’t really — we both don’t like to call them drills, because that seems like work and golf is certainly not work. So play these little fun games on the putting green trying to hole putts like above a coin and below a coin and varying the speed of the way the ball goes in the hole. And just sort of seeing that — because that’s the sort of stuff you need to do at Augusta. Just getting more comfortable with that.”
McIlroy credits his upturn in putting to working with renowned putting guru Brad Faxon since 2018, coupled with the outlawing of green books.
The four-time major winner ranked 16th in strokes gained putting on the PGA Tour last season and feels Faxon has freed him up when standing over a putt.
“Honestly, I think the friendship that Fax and I have developed over the last number of years is probably the best by-product of it, regardless of if putts go in the hole or if they don’t,” said McIlroy who has seen gradual improvement with the flat stick over the last five years.
“Obviously an added benefit is the fact that I’ve become a much more consistent putter over the last five years that I’ve worked with Fax.
“The one thing with Fax, it frees me up. He allows me not to be perfect. There’s been a lot of times where I felt like I’ve needed to do everything perfect for a putt to go in the hole. He’s sort of allowed me that freedom to think, like, you know, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Your intent has to be really good and you have to do the right things, but he sort of let’s me be me. He coaches people to where they need to go. He doesn’t believe in sort of a set way of teaching. I really appreciate that as well.”