Rory back to standard putting grip

Rory McIlroy bins left-hand low at Memorial Tournament

Andy Roberts's picture
Fri, 3 Jun 2016

Rory McIlroy may have won the Irish Open in his last start two weeks ago, but he did so with 127 putts. In the eyes of the Ulsterman, it was not good enough.

McIlroy, 27, adopted the left-below-right putting grip - as used by Jordan Spieth - at Doral in March, but the plan lasted all of three months as the world number three went back to his conventional grip during the first round of Jack Nicklaus' Memorial Tournament on Thursday.

Despite taking 29 putts en route to a 1-under 71 on day one at Muirfield Village - to sit seven strokes adrift of leader Dustin Johnson - the Northern Irishman admits he is more than pleased with the decision, especially with the US Open at Oakmont just two weeks away.

"I've given left-hand low a go - I won a tournament with it, but I'm moving on," said McIlroy, who won by three strokes at the K Club in his last start.

“I had 127 putts the week I won the Irish Open. So it's not as if I putted particularly well that week. I won that golf tournament with my ball striking alone. I just felt like it was time to – you know, I thought about it for a while, and I was messing around on the putting green over the weekend. Just went back to the grip and really trying to focus on the basics like setup and eye position and ball position and stuff like that, alignment.

“I feel like my pace was a little off left-hand low, and I feel like coming into golf courses like here where the greens are really quick, and obviously Oakmont [site of the US Open], where the greens were ridiculously fast, I felt like to give myself the best chance of having a little bit more feel and a little bit more visualization and stuff, I just needed go back to what I've done for most of my career.”

It didn’t take long for McIlroy to get used to the conventional grip.

“This feels, after that 30 minutes or an hour, it feels normal,” he added.

“One thing I did like about left-hand low is it squared my shoulders up. So I'm really trying to focus on alignment and really setting up to the ball correctly each and every time and being really strict with that.

“I feel for me, the margins in putting are so fine, and that's the thing for me that I feel like the difference between having a good putting day and a bad putting day is very, very small. Where for me, anyway, a fairway is 30 yards wide. I mean, you can fit a million golf balls in a row that length – that width of the fairway, where in putting it's just a little bit finer than that.

“It's a mental thing for me, as well, but I feel like the way I'm putting, I'm definitely on the right track.”

McIlroy was once again imperious off the tee, finding 10 of 14 fairways and averaging 302 yards off the tee.

He will need to get hot with the flatstick if he's to contend for a maiden Memorial title, though, with Johnson already seven strokes ahead of him in the lead, and world number one Jason Day five shots ahead of him in third.

Jordan Spieth fared one shot better than McIlroy with a round of 70.