Rory McIlroy knew he had to get fitter after punching Gary Player in the stomach
Nine-time major winner Gary Player has revealed he sparked Rory McIlroy's improved fitness by telling the Northern Irishman he was carrying too much weight.
World number three McIlroy, bidding to complete a career grand slam by claiming a first Masters title this week, has said he tries to follow the "fine example" set by the 80-year-old South African, who is a pioneer of diet, health and fitness.
And Player did not mince his words when advising the Ryder Cup star a few years ago.
He told McIlroy, according to the Daily Mail: "You need to get fit Rory, look at that weight you're carrying. You need to strengthen your core."
McIlroy was then invited by Player to punch him in the stomach, and was shocked when - after a couple of tentative attempts - he landed a harder blow on the veteran, admitting: "It's like punching a wall. You're right, I do need to get fitter."
And Player expects the 26-year-old's new gym-honed physique to serve him well in his future career.
"I think he has the best swing in the game and that commitment to fitness will prolong his time as one of the best players around," he said.