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McIlroy upbeat about swing after getting “second opinion” from Harmon – News – Irish Golf Desk


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Rory McIlroy believes he’s made “pretty big strides” with his game after getting a “second opinion” from veteran coach Butch Harmon on how to fix his iron play as the Masters looms.

The world number two is putting the finishing touches to his preparations in the Valero Texas Open this week after visiting Harmon for a lesson a few weeks ago.

“I think my game has been showing signs of life and all different departments over the course of the year, some weeks, the driving’s, good, some weeks irons are good,” said McIlroy, who will make his tenth attempt to complete the career Grand slam at Augusta National next week after failing to register a top 20 finish on the PGA Tour so far this year.

“It’s just sort of trying to put it all together.  “There were some signs of life at TPC (Sawgrass), but I feel like I’ve worked hard over the last couple of weeks and made some pretty big strides, especially with some of the things I was struggling with.  

“That’s why this week is a great week to tee it up and see where the last couple of weeks of work has sort of gotten me.”

McIlroy hasn’t ditched his lifelong coach, Michael Bannon, but he admitted he needed a fresh perspective from Harmon.

“I met Butch when I was 14 years old, so we’ve always had a good relationship and if there’s if there’s one guy that I want to go and get a second opinion from, it’s him,” McIlroy said.

“I think just after The Players and struggling through that Florida swing with some of the misses I was having with my irons, I just thought to myself, I’m obviously missing something here and I just would love to go and get a second opinion and have him take a look second set of eyes.

“The one thing with coaches, you go spend time with them and you’re always going to feel better about yourself at the end of it, whether you’re hitting it better or not.  “So you know, he’s sort of half golf coach, half psychologist in a way, so it’s fun to go out there.

“I went and spent probably four hours with him in Vegas and he said a couple of things to me that resonated.
“It’s the same stuff that I’ve been trying to do with my coach, Michael, but he sort of just said it in a different way that that maybe hit home with me a little bit more.

“It was a really worthwhile trip and I feel like I’ve done some good work after that. And you know, as I said, this is a good week to see where that work has gotten me.”

The Holywood star hopes to play the next four events in a row as he feels his best golf comes in “runs”.

But he admits that the Masters is the toughest test of the year for him as it requires the kind of disciplined “boring” golf that goes against his nature.

Asked the best advice he’s had about playing Augusta National, he said: “Discipline. Not being tempted to do too much. Sticking to your game plan.”

He explained that being asked to shoot level par at Augusta naturally leads to a few rounds in the sixties but being asked to shoot in the sixties can lead to big numbers.

“It’s very easy to shoot 75 or 76 because you start to chase pins,” McIlroy said. “You start to miss it in the wrong spots, you start to not be patient and play the disciplined golf that you need.  “To play good golf at Augusta feels like boring golf. And I think that’s something that I’ve always struggled with because that’s not my game. And to me, it’s the biggest test of discipline and the biggest test of patience of the year for me.”

As for the two-swing problem he had at Sawgrass — one swing thought for the irons and another for his woods — McIlroy believes he’s solved that problem.

“It feels like they’re sort of meshing back into one a little bit,” he said. “And again, just a couple of things that resonated with me from the trip to Vegas to see Butch. But yeah, it’s feeling it’s feeling a little more cohesive, I guess is probably the right word.”As for his scouting trip to Augusta National, he revealed that the new second tee — further back and further left — is not as dramatic a change as he imagined.

He also revealed there are new greens at the second, fourth and sixth.

As for his comments on golf’s civil war, which he said was “not sustainable”, he pointed to a 20 pc drop in TV viewing figures as “jarring”.

“I know this isn’t the be-all and end-all, but if you look at the TV ratings of the PGA Tour this year, they’re down 20 per cent across the board,” he said. “That’s a fifth. That’s big.  

“I would say the numbers on LIV aren’t great either. In terms of the people tuning in, I just think with the fighting and everything that’s went on over the past couple of years, people are just getting really fatigued of it. And I think it’s turning people off a men’s professional golfer and that’s not a good thing for anyone.  

“So it’s going be really interesting to see how the four major championships do I mean, or even the three, because at Augusta, I think that’s sort of lives in its own its own world.  

“But it’ll be really interesting to see how the major championship numbers fare compared to the other bigger events because there’s an argument to be made, if the numbers are better, and you’ve got all the best players in the world playing, then there’s an argument to say, Okay, we need to get this thing back together.  

“But on the flip side, if the numbers aren’t as good, it’s an argument to still say, we need to put everyone back together because people are losing interest in the game, even if they don’t want to tune into the four major championships.

“That’s where I said things need a correction and things are unsustainable, because I’m close with NBC and the people that really care about these things. And the people that tune in watch golf, and you know, 20% is a pretty jarring number this year.”

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