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McIlroy reveals split with Cowen and return to former coach Bannon


Rory McIlroy has returned to former coach Michael Bannon

Rory McIlroy has returned to former coach Michael Bannon

Rory McIlroy has returned to former coach Michael Bannon

Rory McIlroy has reunited with former coach Michael Bannon after parting ways with Pete Cowen.

The world number eight started working with Cowen eight months ago but confirmed in an interview with ‘Golfweek’ that he has returned to Bannon, who had been his coach since the age of eight.

“Yes, Michael and I are back working together,” McIlroy said. “I’ve always had a relationship with Pete and I’ll ask for his input if I feel I need it. But now it’s Michael and me.”

McIlroy captured his 20th PGA Tour title in mid-October and began working with Bannon again a few days later. He had last worked with Cowen in September at the Ryder Cup where he struggled to make an impact.

Having been at home in Northern Ireland since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, Bannon is now back in Florida where he is working with McIlroy as the 32-year-old prepares for next week’s DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.

Pádraig Harrington is still hoping to make that tournament and should secure his place with a top-10 finish at the AVIV Dubai Championship which begins today. The top 50 in the Race to Dubai will contest next week’s event and Harrington moved up two spots to 56th after Patrick Reed and Sergio Garcia were removed after failing to meet tournament playing criteria. Jonathan Caldwell needs a top-two result to make next week.

On the PGA Tour this week, Shane Lowry and Graeme McDowell join Seamus Power in the Hewlett Packard Enterprise Houston Open.

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Elsewhere, Leona Maguire is backing a “gritty” Stephanie Meadow to salvage her LPGA Tour card in the final regular event of the season.

Meadow (29) arrives at the Pelican Women’s Championship ranked 101st, and with only the top 100 keeping their cards, she must at least make the cut in an event where she was third last year.

“I think Steph is a very gritty player and person,” said world No 46 Maguire, who is looking to cap an extraordinary season with her first win. “She never gives up, and she has a lot of self-belief.

“She has had a lot of things thrown at her in the last five or six years or so, and she has always kept a positive mindset and handled it really well.”

Meadow birdied the last two holes in the final counting event in Dallas two years ago to jump from 112th to 99th and keep her card.

“I am only one point back this time, whereas before, I was a long way back, and I needed like a top-seven finish,” she said. “I just need to play decent, but being able to say that I’ve done it before and not collapsed is definitely a good thing.”

Dubai Championship, live, Sky Sports, 8.0

Pelican Women’s Championship, live, 3.0pm

Houston Open, live, Sky Sports, 6.0pm