Rory McIlroy needs to win the Masters to complete a career Grand Slam.
In other news, the Pope is Catholic.
But as the four-time major winner – 1 x US Open, 1 x Open, 2 x PGA – goes in pursuit of an elusive Green Jacket there are plenty of good omens for his 2018 challenge.
Rory signed an equipment deal with TaylorMade in May 2017.
It took him until March 2018 to land his first win with the new gear at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
His next victory came in May 2014 at Wentworth’s BMW Championship. Then he won The Open, the WGC Bridgestone and the PGA in the space of the next three weeks.
So the laboured point I’m making is that McIlroy seems fully dialled in to his new TaylorMade gear and is ready to be a force in the majors.
His victory at Bay Hill came with a new driver shaft for his TaylorMade M3 which he claims has added a bit of distance and tightened the dispersion.
“I had been playing the same Kuro Kage shaft for seven years, and I just thought that in seven years there must be something out there that’s a little bit better,” McIlroy said.
“There are all these advances in technology, whether it be with club heads and shafts and golf balls… so in the past seven years, there must’ve been something better than what I was using.
“So I tried a couple of different things and settled on the Tensei Orange.
“But the great thing about this shaft is that I didn’t really have to move the weights around too much in the M3 head. I could set it at standard loft, which was great as well. The shaft has been a great addition—tighter ball flight and a little less dispersion.”
Yes, arguably the best and longest driver on tour is now hitting it a bit further.
But it was as much to do with controlling his flight in the wind which he has struggled with at Augusta previously.
“With the driver I was playing, I felt like in a left-to-right wind I was losing it a little bit to the right,” McIlroy added.
“It wasn’t quite holding its line as much as I wanted it to. And then with this new M3, it held its line much better and I was getting a little more ball speed out of it as well, which was a bonus. I feel like I get enough ball speed anyway, but to get an extra 5-6 yards of carry out of this new driver… that’s never going to hurt you”
And we know is new TaylorMade TP Black Copper Soto putter is off to a hot start with +10 stokes gained for putting during his win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
“I changed putter from the Mullen that I had been playing, which was 33 inches to a 34 1/4-inch Soto with a slant neck.
“It’s a very traditional-looking, blade-style putter—something that I’ve used quite a lot in the past, that I’ve been very successful with in the past.
Obviously, it’s a different neck. It’s not quite the plumber’s neck that I’ve used before, but it’s just something that I went back to and it felt familiar. It felt like reintroducing myself to an old friend.”
So now Rory had settled into a new driver and a new putter, how confident is he heading to Augusta?
“I’m very confident in my equipment and in my game heading into Augusta,” he added.
“Obviously, the win validated that. I felt like my game was in good shape, but I needed to show some signs of it before heading to the first major of the year.
“Putting so well and driving as well as I did are two really key things that you need to do at Augusta, so to have that part of my game and my equipment basically set, I can just go about trying to prepare the best way I can to play that golf course, knowing that I’ve got everything I need to play well.”
So what gear will be in Rory’s bag on the first tee at Augusta National on Thursday April 5?
“More than likely for Augusta, I’ll use driver, 3-wood, probably 5-wood—all M3.
“I put the 5-wood in last week instead of the 2-iron… you know, sometimes at Augusta with those par 5s, you need to come into those greens with a little more flight to get it to stop a little quicker.
“So I will probably keep the 5-wood. That means I will probably lose the 3-iron and go 4-iron through 9-iron in the Rors Protos (the 730s) and then I’ll have four (MG) wedges.
“I think Augusta, if the conditions are like they usually are, will get a little firmer as the week goes on and you start to get a few more wedges into greens, and I think just having that extra wedge in the bag to fill that gap could be quite important.
“So that will be the setup for Augusta. Oh! And the putter—the Soto as well. That’s pretty important around there! This thing’s not going anywhere, that’s staying in the bag for a while.”