Three weeks out from the Masters is probably not the ideal time to be experimenting with equipment. But between the Saturday of the PLAYERS and last Wednesday Rory McIlroy clearly clicked into gear with the driver and he looks a dominant juggernaut off the tee again.
McIlroy is through to the last-16 of the World Golf Championship Dell Technology Match Play – his last event before the Masters – having won all three of his group matches and it was his driving that laid the foundations for each win.
The 2015 winner opted to play this week in Austin, Texas rather than the week before Augusta at the Valero Texas Open, and it looks a shrewd move. Now guaranteed at least 72 holes and with the persistent pressure match play brings, this has proven to be the ideal scenario for him to get some reps in with a new big stick, and he is growing in confidence.
“I think as every day goes by, I was saying to Harry out there, the more and more confidence I’m getting with it, which is great. It’s nice to stand up on a tee box and have that freedom knowing that the club’s going to do what it’s supposed to do and the feel of the swing is matching the shape of the ball flight.
“Yeah, another great day where I struck the ball well and sort of got up early, kept pressure on Keegan. It was nice to get through to the weekend.”
Whatever happens over the weekend the four-time major champion has played the shot of the tournament and arguably the season, after he drove to four feet on the 18th green for a walk off eagle to beat Denny McCarthy on Friday.
Brad Faxon on television labelled it one of the greatest tee shots in the history of this game, but McIlroy admits driving is worthless if he doesn’t back it up with the rest of his game.
“I think that’s a little bit of hyperbole there. Look, honestly for me the two shots into 16 yesterday were better than the drive on 18.
“The drive on 18 was great and the length and the accuracy and whatever, it was a good shot, but there was a few more shots out there yesterday that pleased me more than that tee shot.
“That tee shot’s got all the headlines and the attention, but there’s other parts of the game that I’m a lot more pleased with and happy with that’s a little more translatable as the year goes on.”
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