All the Gear: Has Rory McIlroy found the one for Royal Birkdale?

Golf Equipment

Found out why Rory McIlroy thinks his new 1-iron could be the key to success this week....

Wouldn’t it be great to be able to hit a 1-iron? Well that’s what McIlroy will be doing at Birkdale this week as he insists it’s not a course he can overpower with his driver.

I’d managed to miss McIlroy in his early practice rounds at Royal Birkdale so made sure I had a front row seat for his press conference in the media centre on Wednesday.

When it comes to golf equipment, I’m always eager to hear what McIlroy has to say and he just so happens to be one of the most honest and engaging tour pros out there.

“20-1? Now might be a good time to back me,” was his response to a question about his odds this week which pretty much put the packed press room firmly into the palm of his hand.

I asked Rory what putter he was going for this week and whether he had made any changes to his set-up from what he would normally use on the PGA Tour.

“I’ve put a 1-iron in the bag, which I’ll hit a lot this week. It’s 16 degrees with a graphite shaft. With calm conditions, it probably runs out to 280, 290. It’s a great club to have this week.”

Rory McIlroy 1-iron

It’s a TaylorMade Tour Preferred UDI model which is pretty much the same as the one used by Dustin Johnson and has a Project X Hzrdus Black shaft I have been told. McIlroy also had it in his bag ahead of The Players.

“I feel like this is a golf course where you can’t really take it on too much,” McIlroy added. “You can’t cut it across corners. You can’t take on some of the angles or bunkers that are here.

“This golf course dictates to you how play it. It’s so well bunkered, it’s so well designed. You’re going to see guys hitting it to the same spot and then hitting it from there to the green. It’s one of those courses that you know you go out here this week and shoot four 68’s or 69, you’re going to have a really good chance to win.

“That 1-iron will be hit a lot. I’m trying to put myself in position off the tee. And if you’re in the fairway most of the time, you can attack some of these flags.”

McIlroy candidly explained how his putter troubles have been 98 per cent about him and two per cent about the putter but is feeling good about the TaylorMade TP Juno proto putter which he used at the Scottish Open.

Rory McIlroy Juno putter

“Yeah, I went through a few putters a couple of weeks ago I think in Connecticut, and feel that I’ve landed on one that I like and I’m comfortable with.

I feel like there’s a little more flow to my putting than there might have been a few weeks ago, just by trying to separate my technical thoughts on the golf course to doing my drills off it.

“But when I get on the course just really getting into trying to hole putts and not thinking too technically about it, and really focusing in on the target and being a little bit more reactive. So I’ve worked a bit on that, which has been pretty good. I saw some good signs with how I putted last week in Scotland.”

So, 20-1 anyone?

The lengths some go to for the right shoes…

I spent a bit of time around the practice area on Wednesday morning where things were definitely getting a bit more serious.

Shoes are something that fascinate me and I found myself looking towards the ground a lot of the time.

Jimmy Walker’s ‘blacked out’ FootJoy HyperFlex II caught my eye as I have a very similar pair myself.

The 2016 PGA Champion has a classical rather than athletic look and we’re used to seeing him wear Icon Black.

Apparently he loves the comfort and performance of the HyperFlex II but the look wasn’t right. So he used spray paint to get rid of the white colouring on the sole.

But this left black marks on the course so FootJoy just made him a pair which were all black. I’ve already put my request in. I’m still waiting FootJoy.

Oh, and Jason Dufner was wearing a completely new model which we’re not allowed to talk about yet, Jbe Kruger was rocking a pair of the brand new DNA Helix.

Meanwhile, Jason Day – remember him? – was seen in a pair of retro Nike Jordan ‘hi tops’. Tweet us your thoughts on those when you’ve calmed down about the collarless polos.

Has Tommy Fleetwood been spending time with Phil?

Local favourite Tommy Fleetwood was seen crunching a Callaway Epic 3-iron in practice. We reported yesterday how Phil Mickelson was doing the same.

Tommy Fleetwood Epic 3-iron

I’m not one for dishing out advice but that’s Sergio, Rory, Mickelson and now Fleetwood – who knows this course like the back of his hand – opting for powerful driving irons to use off the tee.

Those simply expecting to play how they play in the John Deere Classic could be in for a surprise…

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