European Tour coach Andrew Nicholson analyses the swings of the two pretenders to the crown at the 150th Open Championship

Rory McIlroy and Viktor Hovland are not the tallest guys on tour, yet they are two of the longest hitters. Obviously there are differences in their swings, but ultimately, the way that they create their energy has some similarities.

Rory McIlroy Swing Analysis

The things to look at with Rory is how still he keeps the clubhead but yet, how much he pushes down into the ground with his body.

As he pulls the handle down the clubhead changes direction, so therefore it actually does not move for those split seconds. That’s when the club is carrying the most amount of load. Then in essence, all he does is direct it.

You can see the way that the shaft is virtually pointing at the golf ball. So he’s directing the load of the shaft into the ball. And then, he just swings that through the ball.

Rory’s ability to accumulate his energy is one of the hallmarks of his swing. Add a lot of skill to that, and somebody who is putting a lot better, and you basically have someone who is close to unbeatable.

He creates a lot of energy, and directs that energy extremely well. He can adapt to the environment with this skill, which you need around St Andrews, and then ultimately he can get the ball in the hole. There is a reason he’s at the top of the leaderboard.

His technique with driver is similar. Obviously it’s a slightly longer club, with a slightly longer swing, but again this movement from the top where the clubhead stays still and the body loads and squats.

Now the bit that you want to draw on is the is the size and radius of the arc. If you look at Rory’s clubhead, it loads and the legs load against the opposing force. You can see the way that the clubhead actually pushes out and away from him. This is gathering tremendous speed as it comes around his body.

Again, if we look at the lines you can see that the butt of the club points at the ball. So it’s very neutral from this halfway down to halfway through position.

He’s got tremendous base to his arc. You need that to be able to drive it. Anyone that has watched Rory will see how high he hits the ball. That’s not just the loft that’s on the club head, it’s the radius that’s in the arc.

It’s probably my favourite swing in the world.

Viktor Hovland Swing Analysis

Viktor is a little bit shorter in height than Rory. He gets this tremendous relationship between extension and flexion in his ribcage you can see the way he is almost lifting it up in the backswing. The club stays heavy as it moves back and away.

Now the bit that I love here about Viktor’s is his release. That’s a rare release. See the way his right hand is almost going under and back around the club. It looks flippy, but it’s not flippy at all. He’s actually just releasing as much of the energy of the clubhead as he can.

One of the game’s all-time greats, Ben Hogan, had a release pattern like that and you wouldn’t mind hitting it as straight and far as him! Viktor is very similar height to Bantam Ben – as the Scot’s called him when he won at Carnoustie.

He has incredible use of his pelvis and upper back, he really leans into the shot. Again, you see the way the clubhead is moving out and away. The clubhead trails the hands, which it needs to do in order to sling. The hands go left, the club goes straight, and then he has that fantastic Hogan-esque release.

McIlroy vs Hovland

There are similarities in the way the clubhead moves in transition, while slightly different release patterns between the two, and slightly different ways that they accumulate the energy from their body to the club.

But both are incredibly efficient producers of energy. It’s as simple as that. As I said, they are not the tallest guys but they are fit and very strong with phenomenal techniques.

It’s just a question of whose skill can manage the situations, and who gets that little bit of luck.

And, of course, who can hole the putts.


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