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Equipment Report

    Q&A: McIlroy explains how his putter design fixed a bad habit

  • Rory McIlroy won his second FedExCup on Sunday at East Lake. (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)Rory McIlroy won his second FedExCup on Sunday at East Lake. (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

By his own admission, Rory McIlroy doesn’t tinker with his equipment much during the year. There were, however, a few major equipment changes that McIlroy made heading into 2019 that had a significant impact on his game.

Most notably, going into 2019, McIlroy switched his driver, putter and golf ball. Clearly those changes worked out, since McIlroy had a season to remember by winning THE PLAYERS Championship in March, the RBC Canadian Open in June, and the FedExCup in August. McIlroy finished the season ranked first in Strokes Gained: Driving, first in Strokes Gained: Total, first in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green, and while he’s struggled on the greens in recent years, he finished 24th in Strokes Gained: Putting.

In an interview with PGATOUR.COM earlier this year, McIlroy explained the equipment changes he made heading into 2019. Enjoy his insight below!

Related: McIlroy's Winner's Bag

On switching from the TaylorMade TP5x golf ball to the TP5 ...

(Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

McIlroy: I played the TP5x for nearly a year and a half, and then I decided, you know what, I could use a little more spin with my irons. I ultimately went with the TP5, but it’s a very similar ball. It’s stable in the wind. It does everything I need to, but just a little lower launch and a little higher spin, which has definitely helped me improve my wedge play, and it’s helped me control my distances a little bit better.

I thought it was going to take a while to go from the TP5x to the TP5 because it’s about seven compression points different, but I got used to it straight away, which was really nice.

On his TaylorMade Spider X Copper putter ...

(Andrew Tursky/PGA TOUR)

McIlroy: I love it. I loved it from the start. They first showed it to us at this photo shoot that we did in October in Florida, and I loved it. It’s a little bit more compact than the original Spider. I love the white channel. For me, one of my bad habits in my putting is that I would address the putter a little out at the toe. So to have that white channel right in the middle – that white channel is the exact same width as a golf ball – I can center the golf ball on that. For me, having that contrast between the white channel and the black line… I’ve never aimed the putter as well as I have with that. Without even making any changes mechanically to my stroke, my stroke has gotten better because I aim my putter correctly. I make a stroke that starts the ball on the line that I’m aiming and there are no compensations throughout the stroke at all. So the putter has actually made me stroke it better. I went to The Kingdom (TaylorMade’s performance center in Carlsbad, California) and we tested it all in February, and my stroke between last year and this year is so different, so that’s been huge.

On trying multi-material putter shafts …

McIlroy: I’ve never really played around with shafts in putters. I think I have a KBS shaft in my putter, but I’m not sure (laughs). I don’t know. I have no idea. I know it’s black, but it feels good, and (that’s all that matters).

Why he switched from the TaylorMade M3 driver to the new M5

(Keyur Khamar/PGA TOUR)

McIlroy: The noise. The sound of the M5 to me is so good. That’s been something that … I really don’t like a high-pitched driver. Where you put the weights on the head makes a little bit of a difference, and I noticed it’s just a little bit spinnier, which I like. I’ve probably added 300-400 rpm in my average driver spin this year. That’s led to me hitting 13% more fairways with my driver than last year (through six events in 2019). That’s been big as well with playing the TP5 ball instead of the TP5x and having a driver profile that’s a little spinnier. I might be giving up 2-3 mph ball speed, but I’m hitting it in the fairway more often, which means I’m giving myself more chances to get it close to the pin. So that’s been a big help.

On TaylorMade’s new double-decker TOUR truck, and tinkering with equipment …

McIlroy: I wouldn’t be the biggest club tinkerer, so there hasn’t really been – all the way throughout my career, when I was with other manufacturers – I never spent much time on the truck. But having a space like this, it’s nice to come talk to the guys and look at a few things, and just to hang out. Maybe watch a European soccer match on the television if it’s not on in the locker room. It’s just a cool place to come and hang out.