ANYONE who feared Rory McIlroy might overdo the gym work and become too muscle-bound for golf will find comfort in a fascinating behind-the-scenes video of the World No 1 going through his fitness routine.
Tiger Woods last year was accused by his former coach Hank Haney of pumping too much iron for his own good. Haney said Tiger "looks like he's gained much more muscle. When he was thinner and younger, he was actually faster."
McIlroy (25) certainly relishes his visits to the gym and he has clearly filled out in the last couple of years, becoming stronger and fitter for golf.
Yet any qualms about him going overboard are dispelled as the Holywood star and his 'exercise physiologist', Dr Steven McGregor reveal in the Nike video how carefully planned and controlled McIlroy's training regime actually is.
Working with McIlroy since late 2010, McGregor has implemented a "progressive programme of stability, strength and power", with an anecdote from last year's Open illustrating nicely how McIlroy's powerful appetite for training is kept in check.
McIlroy was coming off of a rough practice round and wanted nothing more than to get into the gym to work off his frustration, but he'd already agreed with McGregor that he'd limit his training during tournament weeks.
"So I made a deal with Steve that if I shot a 67 the next day I could work out a little," said McIlroy. His first-round 66 granted the golfer a refreshing visit to the gym and set him up nicely for the rest of the week. He went on to win the Open, the third of his four Major titles, leading to next month's crack at the 'Career Grand Slam' at the Masters.
"Bringing Steve on board has been huge," explained McIlroy, admitting he had "a little previous knowledge" about training and fitness "but not as much as I could or should have.
"Everyone has to start somewhere and I started from the very beginning and have worked my way up, getting my body into the best shape possible for what I do.
"I've no ambitions to try and squat 500 pounds, like some guys you see," insisted McIlroy, whose years of work with McGregor also resolved a lower back issue he used have.
"But I do enough and am strong enough to control the golf club the whole way through the swing and, basically, that's what I want to do.
"My posture was terrible when I started. To have a better posture, stand up straight with your shoulders back and chest out gives-off an added air of confidence.
"There are some weeks when I don't want to go into the gym but, for me, fitness work is a necessity. It's what I need to do to give me the best chance to go out onto the golf course to perform to the best of my ability."
While McIlroy wrapped up his pre-Masters competitive programme in Bay Hill, Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry have their final public outing before Augusta at the Texas Open, which swings into action today at the TPC of San Antonio.
McDowell plays the Oaks Course for the first time but Clara man Lowry tied 15th here in 2013. Yet recent Cadillac winner Dustin Johnson looks the greatest threat to 'Texas Ranger' Jordan Spieth, the bookies' favourite.
A coveted invitation to the Masters awaits any player who forces his way into the world top 50 by Sunday evening's qualification deadline, helping boost the field at the King Hassan II Trophy in Agadir.
Should he clinch his third European Tour win of 2015 or finish second alone, England's Andy Sullivan will win that dream ticket. Marcel Siem, pipped in the race to the Masters by hundredths of a ranking point after his 2013 victory at Agadir's exclusive Palais Royal, also has Augusta ambitions, as do Alex Levy, George Coetzee, Tommy Fleetwood and Ross Fisher.
Irish eyes inevitably will turn to 2012 winner Michael Hoey and the man he pipped in Morocco that year, Damien McGrane, while Waterford youngster Kevin Phelan may also find the course to his liking.
King Hassan II Trophy,
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Valero Texas Open,
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His obits are already appearing and, very pertinently, to the majority, the reports of his demise do not seem in any way exaggerated. Tiger Woods is finished. Think Elvis in Vegas, Ali in the Bahamas ... except it does not have to end like this.
Painful anniversaries can be tough for anyone to handle, but as Caroline Wozniacki prepares to deal with all the reminders of her split last year from the Irish golfer, Rory McIlroy, she appears to be in a strong frame of mind. “Happy Saint Patrick’s Day to all my Irish friends,” Wozniacki said on Twitter last week.