It's the part of the game that's always held him back, so what did Brad Faxon do to fix Rory McIlroy's putting?
After an injury plagued 2017, Rory McIlroy began his 2018 season outside the top 10 in the world for the first time since 2011. He knew his putting was letting him down, and in a recent all-encompassing interview with the Irish Independent, the soon-to-be World No. 1 opened up on his first meeting with Brad Faxon and how this gave him a fresh perspective at a time when he perhaps needed it most.
“One thing I’ve found is that my putting has never matched up to the rest of my game. I’ve been wooden and technical on this side, and free-flowing on the other,” McIlroy says.
So how did a three-hour meeting with Faxon help?
“Well, two hours were just chatting and having a coffee,” he explains. “Then we went out to the putting green for an hour. It was really windy and I said to him, ‘Jeez, if it was this windy I probably wouldn’t practice my putting.’ He said, ‘Do you not putt when it’s windy? Do you not play on days like this?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I guess you’re right.’
“He’s very intuitive. He says, ‘From outside looking in, it looks like you’re a feel player. Would you like to have that in your putting? You just have to know what to work on – bring your putter, a sand wedge and a 5-wood.’
“So we went onto the putting green and he got me to putt from eight feet. I hit three putts with the putter and holed one of them, three with the sand wedge and holed two of them, and I holed three in a row with the 5-wood.”
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So how can this help you?
In a game that’s become dominated by technology and online coaching, golfers of all abilities are more inclined than ever to go in search of technical perfection – a pursuit that can be destructive to every part of your game, but no more so than when it comes to the flatstick.
For McIlroy, he felt the benefits immediately.
“He [Faxon] says, ‘I wanted to prove something to you. A lot of putting nowadays is very technical and mechanical – you have to have the right length putter with the right lie and the right loft. That thing (the 5-wood) has 19 degrees (loft) and is about 10 inches too long and you’ve just holed three in a row. That’s what you need to get back to. It needs to be instinctive.’ And it was such a massive flip. We had that one session on Monday afternoon and I went to Bay Hill and had the best putting week of my career.”
Although it would turn out to be his only win of the season, McIlroy’s putting has gone from strength to strength since. Having ranked 159th in Strokes Gained: Putting for 2016-17 it’s no surprise that arguably his best year on tour [2018-19] coincided with a jump to 24th in this category.
Yes, he is still without a major since 2014, but now that his putting more closely resembles his ball-striking prowess, you’d be brave to bet against him this year.
Will Rory McIlroy finally bag himself another major this year? Let me know in the comments or send me a tweet.