Tuesday 20 February 2018

McIlroy has worked hard to find his own answers

Stockton's putting revelation points to a player thoroughly in command of his own game

Rory McIlroy lines up a putt on his way to victory at the USPGA. Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Rory McIlroy lines up a putt on his way to victory at the USPGA. Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Joe Molloy

In equalling Ernie Els' career Major haul and moving one behind Seve, all by the age of 25, Rory McIlroy is making it abundantly clear his career will indeed live up to the hype.

This year in particular has revealed a dedication which was not always in evidence in the child prodigy. His talent was never doubted. The ability to fulfil his boundless potential was. And we got a really brilliant insight into the new and improved Rory McIlroy approach on Monday night's show, during our discussion with putting guru Dave Stockton.

Stockton, himself a two-time Major winner, has worked with McIlroy on his putting since the world No 1's infamous Masters collapse back in 2011. Indeed he became something of a lucky charm for McIlroy, working with him in the weeks before his first two Major wins at both Congressional and Kiawah Island. But as Stockton revealed on Monday, it seems the student has taken control of his own tuition.

McIlroy hasn't turned to Stockton for any help with his putting since the Masters last April. Stockton told us: "Rory's spent a lot of time understanding his own putting game. From my regard, he's figured everything out on his own since the Masters.

"Since then, he's taken no physical instruction from me. He's spent hours on the green and taken what my sons and I teach and found his own answer. Annika Sorensen did the same thing. And Rory's figured out what makes him comfortable and what makes it work under pressure. I just think it's brilliant what he's done."

It did strike us that Stockton is probably out of a job in the short-term at least, but he was genuinely delighted that McIlroy has taken such ownership of the situation.

There were a few poor putts during Sunday's round, but since the PGA win at Wentworth, McIlroy's putting has largely been excellent.

Stockton, much like everybody else, is predicting a prolonged period of McIlroy domination over the coming years. He said: "I think we've just seen the start and that's scary. We're seeing the start of something huge."

Irish Independent

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