RORY MCILROY may have ranked inside the top-30 in both driving accuracy, driving distance, greens in regulation and putts per regulation en route to BMW PGA glory at Wentworth at the weekend but it was the state of his short game that excited him most.
The reason? His new 59-degree Nike X3X Toe Sweep wedge, see image right.
Storming home in 32 shots on the back nine, 10 of which came with the putter, it was McIlroy's work with his new wedge that saw him over the line.
Following a chip-in birdie at the par-3 10th, the Ulsterman got up-and-down for birdie from sand at the par-5 12th and again when short-sighted of the pin at the par-3 14th when popping the ball up to within inches of the pin.
He then used the same club to get up-and-down for birdie from the fairway at 17 and out of sand at 18 to record a 14-under total that proved one-shot too strong for his rivals.
The unorthodox wedge, which features a wide sole near the toe and a narrow sole width at the heel, looked a little unusual to McIlroy on first look, but he soon found a soft spot for it at Quail Hollow and loved how it played out the rough.
"I'm pretty confident and can play all the shots," McIlroy told Golf.com, "but [the toe sweep] is easier to play on some shots when you need to work really hard to keep the club open. This club really slides through the thick grass and that really gives me confidence to stay aggressive when I miss the green."
McIlroy credited his new wedge for his up-and-downs from the rough on Sunday and also his bunker shot on 18.
"I’ve always been someone with not a lot of bounce to my wedges but I think it’s helped my bunker play as well," he added.
McIlroy, who ranked third in driving distance on the West Course with an average of 294.4 yards, also explained how he now has the ideal driver-ball combination (Nike VRS Covert 2.0 Tour 8.5-degree & Nike RZN Black) launching the ball at just the right angle with a good ball speed and spin rate.
"I know some guys want less spin," he said, "but for me a little extra spin keeps the flight tight for me and with my high swing speed I can get away with it."
Known as a superlative feel player, McIlroy also talked about how his new ball, the Nike RZN Black, feels at impact.
"It feels solid, and it feels softer than the ball I was playing last year," he said.
"It performs well in the wind and rarely gets touched by the wind. Days with a little wind like yesterday you don’t have to aim too much off-line because the wind won’t move it."