With the world’s top players trying to play their way into form ahead of the Masters next month, Rory McIlroy worryingly revealed that he is uncomfortable with his driver having changed at Riviera three weeks ago.
McIlroy struggled off the tee during the first round of the PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass ranking 87th in driving accuracy, hitting just 6 of 14 fairways and 79th in strokes gained tee to green.
Failing to be in play off the tee was the catalyst for a four-over 76 which has left him with a mountain to climb to make the halfway cut.
But there appears to be bigger concerns for the Holywood native who is struggling to find a driver that can replicate the marriage he had with the big stick last season. When questioned after his round McIlroy admitted he did not want to put last years model in play taking a chance on it being no longer within the R&A legal limits.
“I went to that new driver in Riviera I changed to it on Thursday night of Riviera. Look, I wish I could use my driver from last year, but I can’t just because of — you use a driver for so long, and it starts to get a little too — basically it just wouldn’t pass the test,” explained McIlroy who recently switched to the new Taylormade Stealth 2 Plus.
“These driver heads are so finicky, it’s hard to get one exactly the same.
” I mean, I’m obviously trying my best, trying to get something that’s as close to what I had last year but i have just struggled a little bit off the tee the last couple weeks.
“This head is as close as it’s been. There’s obviously a part of it that’s the user, as well. It’s quite a lot of user error in there, as well.” admitted McIlroy.
“They were testing drivers at Riviera, but I just didn’t even want to take the chance. I just was not comfortable knowing that it could feel — doesn’t look good on me, doesn’t look good on TaylorMade,”
McIlroy’s comments are referring to something called “Creep” in a driver face. Manufacturers make clubs so close to the USGA / R&A limits of CT (springiness off the face) that after a year of wear and tear, of hitting thousands of balls, these clubs may fail a CT test that governing bodies perform due to wear on the face.
McIlroy had been playing the previous Stealth model which he had in the bag since January 2022.
McIlroy now faces a massive uphill task to make the cut in The Players Championship the 2019 champion carded a four-under 76 and likely needs to fire a round in the sixties on Friday to avoid missing the weekend in his last strokeplay start before the Masters.
Seamus Power is a couple of shots better than McIlroy at +2 after an opening 74 while Shane Lowry’s round of 77 sees him in T127 place and minus a club after he broke it over his knee in anger on the 15th.
At the top of the leaderboard Chad Ramey leads the way after an opening round of 64 (-8) with Collin Morikawa hot on his heels at -7 with the next best grouped together at -5.
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