5 Things: Rory's new coach, Beef's off to the US and Stenson's knee
1) Rory puts his faith in Kenyon
When Rory McIlroy missed the cut at the PGA at Baltusrol he described his putting, quite frankly, as ‘pathetic’. He topped the driving charts but was 151st (of 156) in the putting stats, he took 65 putts before making his way home on Friday night.
“If you gave anyone else in the field my tee shots this week, they’d be up near the top of the leaderboard. Tee to green is good, I just need to figure out what to do on the greens. I need to have a long, hard think about that.”
His playing partner Phil Mickelson offered some hope – “We all have periods where we have mental blocks on the greens. Right now he’s just so tentative through impact. He’s just not confident. You can just tell.”
A month on and now McIlroy is working with Phil Kenyon, the putting specialist who helped Henrik Stenson to his victory at Troon. Indeed go to any European Tour event and Kenyon’s time is spent with a carousel of Tour stars coming for help.
Last week at The Barclays McIlroy tied for 31st with 120 putts. Then on the Saturday of the Deutsche Bank he had his best putting round since the 2015 Wells Fargo Championship. He holed six putts between 10 and 20 feet.
“There’s a lot of stuff going on but just really trying to simplify the motion as much as I can and I can get it going on sort of a good arc and trying to keep the putter face square at impact,” said McIlroy. “If you can do that, you’re going to have a good chance to hole some putts.”
After making the switch he explained: “Green reading’s different, set-up’s different, aiming the putter’s different, so everything is, as I said, it’s a work in progress. I’m in constant touch with Phil, I feel like he’s obviously the way to go for me right now and we’ll see how it goes and work hard at it and hopefully I start to see little improvements each and every week.”
The goal is to feel comfortable with his new stroke by the time the Masters rolls around.
2) Stenson’s knee will be fine for Hazeltine
When Henrik Stenson was busy winning his first Major and silver medal in Rio he was doing it with a cartilage tear in his right knee.
The Swede has a history of knee problems; he had surgery in his left knee in 2011 and then again last December but this recent tear is in a different place and is the one that forced him to withdraw from the US Open at Oakmont. Last week he had to pull out after one round at The Barclays.
”We’ll just have to wait and see how much potential grief it gives us, if I want to do another procedure or if it’s something I can cope with over time,” Stenson said. ”Given the summer I had, maybe I should have torn it earlier.”
The good news for Europe is that it doesn’t affect his swing, walking on slopes isn’t great though, but he plans to be ready for Hazeltine at the end of the month.
“The Ryder Cup is on my mind. It’s a big event,” he added. ”I want to be as prepared and rested when we get there because it is one of the most tiring weeks. Coming in there and not being rested is never ideal.”
3) Lefty’s good even as a righty
The American Ryder Cup team had a little get-together last week at the Patriots’ stadium and, using Captain Love’s wedge, had a bit of nearest-the-pin action.
And your winner was the only left-handed player on the team, Phil Mickelson. From 78 yards Lefty popped her in to four feet.
“Honestly, it’s just not that hard to play golf right-handed,” Mickelson said. “I think the real challenge and enjoyment I get is from trying to play the game left-handed.
“Hitting a wedge is not that hard, righty or lefty. It’s when I get to the longer stuff, like driver, I have a hard time righty. Of course, I have a hard time hitting driver lefty, too. But hitting wedges has always been pretty easy.”
Not that he was going to rub it in or anything.
“I wouldn’t want them to feel bad. As a guy who knows how sensitive these players can be, I didn’t want to overemphasize my victory last night. It didn’t go unnoticed, but I didn’t need to harp on it. I didn’t need to make a big deal of it. They’re just a little touchy about that kind of stuff.”
4) Beef trying his luck Stateside
Andrew Johnston is going to try and become a full-time member of the PGA Tour. Beef, along with Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Bryson DeChambeau, has entered next week’s DAP Championship in Ohio, which is the first leg of the four-event Web.com Tour Finals.
Johnston would have finished 146th on the FedEx Cup if he were a member and Nos. 126-200 are eligible. There will be 25 cards up for grabs over the four events though Beef will miss the final one, the Web.com Tour Championship, in order to play at the Dunhill Links.
At the PGA Championship he said that he would be concentrating on the European Tour but he seems to have changed his mind.
His manager, Shaun Reddin, told GolfChannel.com via e-mail: “Bit of an opportunity that we decided to have a crack at to try to give us as many options as possible to play the best events both in Europe and the US next year.”
At the weekend he finished third at the European Masters to move up to 15th on the Race to Dubai.