After a long drought of 553 days, Rory McIlroy is a champion once again (usatoday.com). The four-time major champion looked like his old self again on Sunday by coming from three shots behind to lift his first trophy since a 2019 victory in China. After missing three straight cuts, winning the Wells Fargo Championship at one of his favorite courses (Quail Hollow) was just what McIlroy needed to get back on track.
How did Rory regain his championship form? Here are three main reasons that McIlroy won on Sunday and why he is one of the early favorites to win the PGA Championship in a couple of weeks.
McIlroy Hired Renowned Swing Coach Pete Cowan
McIlory, who turned 32 just a few days ago, had been fighting his swing for several months and even admitted to the press that he often had no idea where his tee shots were going to go. Humility is one of McIlroy’s traits that golf fans find endearing. It was that same humility that allowed McIlroy to bring in Pete Cowan to help him make some swing corrections.
McIlroy did not get rid of his longtime swing coach Michael Bannon. That looks to be a wise decision as Bannon and Cowen form a great coaching team for McIlroy. After his victory on Sunday, McIlroy credited both of his swing coaches for his quick turnaround.
Rory Ditched his Old Draw for a Power Fade
For more than a decade, McIlroy’s signature shot off the tee has been a gorgeous high draw. However, that high draw had become an erratic snap hook over the last several months. McIlroy and his new dream team of swing coaches decided to start hitting power fades with his driver.
The new approach worked like a charm at Quail Hollow. It will be interesting to see if McIlroy keeps this same approach with the driver at the PGA Championship, which begins on May 20 at Kiawah Island. When McIlroy is hitting his driver well, it is perhaps one of his biggest weapons on the course.
McIlroy Looks More Comfortable with the Putter
The biggest key to McIlroy’s 19th PGA Tour win on Sunday was how he handled the flat stick. The Northern Ireland native has not looked comfortable on the green in quite some time, but that all changed this past week. In fact, McIlroy gained 1.73 strokes putting, which is the best he has performed on the greens since his 2018 victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Interestingly enough, McIlroy seemed more calm while putting with lots of fans around last week than he did during the pandemic with no fans allowed. He even admitted that he has missed the energy of the raucous tournament crowds. Back in February, the PGA of America announced that they would allow 10,000 fans each day at the 2021 PGA Championship. Hopefully this means that McIlroy can continue his brilliant putting in pursuit of his fifth major championship.