Elite coach Dan Whittaker explains what we can learn from the world's best. Here he looks at Rory McIlroy's escape and breaking convention on the greens
This week I’ve picked two tips from the end-of-season DP World Tour Championship in Dubai…
Otaegui’s pencil grip
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) November 18, 2018
When Adrian Otaegui won the Belgian Knockout in May he was putting with a conventional putting grip. Six months on he has moved to the pencil and it appears to be working a treat. Over the course of the season the Spaniard ranked 67th for Strokes Gained on the greens. Last week, with the pencil, he was third in Putts Per GIR and second for Putts Per Round.
By changing your grip it is not only a quick way to get some confidence but, through getting some analysis of your stroke through, for example, a SAM PuttLab, you can get some trust that the change is really working. If you’re a bit twitchy or handsy then the pencil or claw or cross-handed might work for you and give you a more stable clubface through impact.
We might not all be great putters but we all know what a good putt feels like and it doesn’t matter what you think you look like. Both Justin Rose and Tommy Fleetwood have changed to more ‘unconventional grips’ based on getting much better numbers and then trusting it.
What to practise: This winter is a good time to work on your stroke and mix things up a bit if you’ve not been putting well. Ideally you could get some data back from your pro on how certain grips work for you and then that should give you a bit of trust that it does produce a better stroke.
There is no perfect putting grip so do what feels comfortable and, if you start rolling it better, then that’s all we care about.
Rory’s incredible escape
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) November 17, 2018
Rory McIlroy has a ridiculous amount of knee flex to play this shot as he is so far above the ball. He does a great job of getting his angles to a level lie but the way he plays it shows how phenomenal the best players are at adapting to a certain situation.
They will all have messed around with awkward stances, the technique isn’t actually too different for this shot, so then they can be committed to pulling it off.
A lot of us will back up and out of this shot and thin it, Rory does a great job of setting his weight really evenly which helps him to control the bottom of the arc and hit an amazing shot.
Another thing that I like about this is the normal grip, I’m not a big fan of gripping down the club in a bunker as it reduces the wrist hinge.
What to practise: How many club golfers give themselves something out of the ordinary when practising from the sand? Come to think of it how many of you practise at all from sand? There’s little use in throwing your arms up in the air if you get a stinky lie in a bunker. What you want is the knowledge that at least you’ve practised the shot.