McIlroy makes swing fixes before bid for third Wells Fargo Championship win
May 01, 2019
By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
Wells Fargo Championship all-time shots
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The unprecedented amount of video being posted on digital media isn’t just an asset for fans.
Players find it helpful, as well.
Days after another unsuccessful attempt to complete the career Grand Slam, Rory McIlroy watched video of the shots he struggled with at Augusta National. That helped him identify swing faults that he fixed in the fortnight between the Masters and the Wells Fargo Championship, the tournament where McIlroy has achieved unparalleled success in his PGA TOUR career.
The changes to McIlroy’s address have allowed him to “neutralize” his ball flight, i.e. curve it less. By getting more hinge in his hips, McIlroy was able to steepen his shoulder turn. That kept the club from getting too far behind him on the backswing.
“I was relying a lot on timing,” he said. “I was relying a lot on upper-body rotation, sort of out of sync a little bit. … I was coming up out of my posture and falling back on my heels.”
During some of his most successful seasons, McIlroy said his head dropped slightly during the backswing and rose at impact. The opposite had been happening recently.
McIlroy’s T21 finish at Augusta National, where a final-round 68 was his only sub-70 round, ended a run of seven consecutive top-10s on the PGA TOUR. That stretch included a runner-up finish at the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship and a victory at THE PLAYERS Championship. McIlroy is third in the FedExCup as he seeks to join Tiger Woods as the only two-time FedExCup champions.
He has a great chance to gain points this week. McIlroy’s play is unmatched at Quail Hollow. He’ll celebrate his 30th birthday Saturday and hope to celebrate a third Wells Fargo victory a day later.
Quail Hollow is one of two courses where he’s won twice (TPC Boston is the other). He’s the only two-time winner of the Wells Fargo Championship, and set a course record in each of his wins.
The first was his final-round 62 in 2010 that led to his first PGA TOUR victory. Five years later, he went one shot lower in the third round en route to a seven-shot win.
Last year’s T16 was his second-worst finish in eight appearances here (he missed the cut in 2011) and ended a streak of five consecutive top-10s in the Wells Fargo.
It should be no surprise, then, that he dominates the statistics here. He’s first in scoring average (69.6), Strokes Gained per round (+2.82), birdies per round (5.23) and greens hit (72%) among players who’ve played at least 20 rounds at Quail Hollow.
He’s averaging 0.78 more birdies per round than second-place Phil Mickelson. He holds the tournament-record for birdies in one week (27, in 2015). He’s made more than 20 birdies in five of his eight starts at Quail Hollow. No one else has done that more than three times.
His 72% of greens hit is 5% higher than his career average, on a course where the field hits 2% fewer greens than the TOUR average.
“It’s always a place that I look forward to coming to every year,” he said. Considering his success, that may be an understatement.