BORN: MAY, 1989
TURNED PRO: 2007
ACHIEVEMENTS: EUROPEAN TOUR WINS 5
2011 US OPEN WINNER
2012 USPGA WINNER
2014 OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP WINNER
2014 USPGA WINNER
WORLD NUMBER 1: CURRENT NO 1 – 55 WEEKS TOTAL
SPONSORS: NIKE / BOSE / SANTANDER / OMEGA
COACH: MICHAEL BANNON
WHATS IN THE BAG
3 Wood: Nike VRS Covert 2.o (15 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Rombax Pro 95 (X-Flex)
5 Wood: Nike VR_S Covert (19 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Rombax Pro 95 (X-Flex)
Irons: Nike Vapour Pro Blades (4-9)
Shafts: Royal Precision Project X 7.0
Wedges: Nike VR Forged (46, 52, 56 and 59 degrees)
Shafts: Royal Precision Project X 6.5
Putter: Nike Method 006 Prototype
Ball: Nike RZN Black
After winning the PGA Championship Rory turned heads by putting the new Vapour driver in play. Following the successful introduction of it at the Ryder Cup he shortly after, changed his irons at the Dunhill Championship.
Mcilroy was earmarked for stardom from an early age and became the darling of Irish golf sweeping all before him. After an impressive amateur career and final Walker Cup appearance in 2007 he turned pro under ISM sports management. In just three events he secured his tour card fulfilling his great promise of potential.
His performances featured many highs and many lows, his enigmatic style showing world class skill at times. Maybe lacking patience and experience he finally entered the European Tour’s winner circle at the Dubai Desert Classic in 2009. It was his success at the 2011 US Open that propelled him to world fame with an 8 stroke victory provoking incessant comparisons to Tiger Woods. The way he overpowered the golf course and utilised a towering high ball flight was eerily similar for many.
After a turbulent summer of missed cuts in 2012 he went on to win the USPGA by eight shots again. Once might have been considered a fluke but to win two majors by a combined 16 shots demonstrated an ability few can comprehend or aspire to on the tour.
There was widespread criticism of his move to Nike in 2013 after such a successful 2012. Perhaps it was the clubs, perhaps it was the weight of expectation that a multi-million dollar endorsement contract brings but his form suffered in 2013.
In contrast to 2013, this year has been one of non stop success. Two majors and a world golf championship (at Tiger’s old stomping ground) put him firmly back on top of the world golf rankings and atop the golfing world. His graceful effortless style and apparent nonchalant easygoing nature under the highest of pressures makes him a fan favourite in perhaps a way Tiger never will be.
As with any player who reaches the pinnacle of their sport a huge amount of scrutiny is placed on their technique and training methods in a quest to understand where their prowess or advantage stems from.
There is a general consensus in the golf world from amateur to pro that Mcilroy’s swing is very easy on the eye. The efficiency, balance, co-ordination and overall flow make it a joy to watch. But high speed cameras highlight some features that you may not expect to see. Lets look at his swing and discuss his unique successful style.
In any competitive field or area of expertise you must go against accepted ideals, you must be unorthodox in some way, to gain a serious advantage of your opponents. You must be able to exploit what you have – it is often having an extra special strength rather than having any general weakness that creates the opportunity to dominate. Mcilroy is the epitome of eschewing consistency and instead going for the ultimate play.
So what is unique about Mcilroy’s technique? The most noteworthy facet of his game is his prowess off the tee (this article proves the point). Many credit his fitness regime for this ability and there is no doubt it has helped him, his stability and strength have obviously improved. But let’s look at the uniqueness of his key move that is responsible for his advantage. The image below is a Trackman report from 2010, before he really developed physically.
Most noteworthy are his attack angle with driver that is 4.1 degrees (5 higher than the PGA Tour average) and a path that is 6.4 degrees to the right. Much is made of his high trajectory but some good players hit the ball similar heights and yet are much less effective. Spin loft is our key term here – this refers to the angle between dynamic loft and attack angle at impact – the bigger the difference the less the efficiency. With a an exaggerated positive angle of attack, Mcilroy achieves the club fitting nirvana of high launch and low spin. When asked about his driving ability this year he states an ability to control and adapt his flight more has made him more consistent and successful in different conditions such as the Open at Hoylake this year. But this efficiency of high launch and low spin as his natural shot is key.
So what is relevant in the slow motion analysis of his swing that creates his ball flight? For the sake of comprehension lets call it body compression and ground force. Since his days as part of the elite amateur squad in Ireland he has had access to biomechanic analysis.
He reported that this greatly accelerated his learning or ‘appreciation’ of where maximum club velocity was created in the swing. He learnt ‘to wait for it’ and become more efficient perfecting what’s known in biomechanics as sequencing. Sequencing is the order and acceleration of body parts to achieve maximal speed.
Ground force is another measurable factor in a golf swing thanks to various analysis devices (such as swing catalyst) that provide information on the location and amount of weight placement in the swing. Like Tiger Woods, Mcilroy displays massive compression in the downswing, shown in the lowering of the head, a result of a lower half squat move. It is the same as you would do to leap vertically as high as you could.
This move creates extra ground force shown in the biomechanic data which they are able to turn into clubhead speed effectively. Rory is so effective with this move that the resultant elastic like snap of his hips, sees him achieve hip speeds of 717 degrees per second compared to the mid 500’s recorded by other tour players. The size of his hip turn also magnifies the effect further still -from 49 degrees closed in the backswing to 62 degrees open at impact. This obliterates the tour averages of 30 degrees closed to 48 degrees open!
It sounds complicated but it is arguably easier to repeat than relying solely on the smaller arm and hand muscles to rotate the clubhead into position. Space between the knees in the downswing is a key indicator of a successful squat move. Have fun implementing this into your game next time you play if you seek distance and efficiency!
OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP WIN AT HOYLAKE
2014 PGA CHAMPIONSHIP WIN AT VALHALLA
2014 FEDEX CUP PRACTICE
2011 US OPEN WIN
2012 USPGA WIN
2014 HONDA CLASSIC WARM UP