WGC Match Play R1: Rory McIlroy switches putter en route to fast start

Rory McIlroy goes back to his Scotty Cameron Newport putter en route to a 3&1 victory over Scott Stallings. 

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Wed, 22 Mar 2023
WGC Match Play R1: Rory McIlroy switches putter en route to fast start

Rory McIlroy dropped his TaylorMade Spider putter in favour of a Scotty Cameron Newport and it led to immediate success as he ran out a comfortable 3&1 victory over Scott Stallings in his WGC Match Play Round 1 match on Wednesday at Austin Country Club. 

McIlroy made six birdies and one bogey in his match with Stallings, and on the whole, his putting looked vastly improved. 

The story was even better on the greens last week at Augusta National as McIlroy was said to have taken '19 putts' during one of his practice rounds ahead of The Masters! 


Related: Paige Spiranac reveals the one PGA Tour pro who made her 'gag' in R1 of the WGC Match Play

In his round one match against Stallings, the Ulsterman went 1up early with a par on the first and then surged into a 3up lead following consecutive birdies at 7 and 8. 

McIlroy was pegged back to 1up when losing the next two holes but he responded brilliantly with four birdies on his closing seven holes to see out the match. 

The Northern Irishman picks up an early point and leads Group 3 as Denny McCarthy and Keegan Bradley could not be separated with a tied match. 

Bradley was incredibly 4 down with 5 holes to play but hit back with a birdie, eagle, par, birdie finish to pull McCarthy back to level. 

McIlroy now faces McCarthy on Thursday, before turning his attentions to Bradley on Friday.

Related: Why can't LIV Golf players compete in the WGC Match Play this week?

Every player who tops each of the 16 groups at the WGC Match Play will progress to the knockout stages on Saturday morning.

McIlroy is bidding to win this tournament for the second time in his career, albeit on a different golf course at TPC Harding Park back in 2015. 

Elsewhere in Round 1, the big shock of the day came with Rickie Fowler taking down World No.2 Jon Rahm.

Fowler was down by 2 at one stage on the front nine, but he fought back bravely on the back nine to take down the Spaniard, who was certainly not on his A-game. 

Rahm recently withdrew after Round 1 of The Players Championship due to stomach illness

Sky Sports Golf were forced to apologise to viewers as Shane Lowry fired an F-bomb at a golf fan on the 17th. 

Lowry went on to lose 2&1 to Taylor Montgomery.

Jordan Spieth also used some colourful language

But he also hit one of the shots of the day as he chipped in for birdie on 15 to close out his match 4&3 against Mackenzie Hughes.

LIVE WGC Match Play R1 Scores

But back to McIlroy, who was seen testing out a Scotty Cameron Newport GSS earlier in the week before putting it in the bag for the first round. 

Judging by his performance on the greens on Wednesday, you have to feel McIlroy will continue to use it ahead of The Masters where he goes in search of completing the career grand slam in two weeks' time. 

Many of you will no doubt remember this Scotty Newport was the same putter he used to claim the first two of his four major championships before he signed on the dotted line with Nike Golf. 

The World No.3 told Golf this week that he was trying to 'rekindle an old flame'. 

GolfMagic Equipment Editor Alex Lodge said: 

"Rory currently sits at 173rd in SG:Putting on the PGA Tour which is very clearly quite underwhelming.
"Last year, he was 16th, with nearly a whole stroke difference.
"People were questioning his driver, but when the putter is cold, something needs to change. I'm not surprised to see Rory look back to Scotty Cameron this week."  

McIlroy has also switched things up at the top end of his golf bag. 

Despite not being overly happy of late with his TaylorMade Stealth 2 Plus Driver, he has switched into a Fujikura Ventus TR Blue 6X

According to Golf Channel's Todd Lewis, McIlroy has already seen a marked improvement with this shaft. 

Related: Who is Rory McIlroy's wife?

He reportedly played Augusta National ahead of the 2023 Masters and 'drove the ball beautifully' over two practice rounds. 

McIlroy previously explained that as he is in the first year of a new multi-year contract with the OEM, he has been given more flexibility with some of the clubs in his bag. 

That was after he was spotted using Titleist Vokey Wedges in Dubai. 

Will Rory McIlroy get back to winning ways at the WGC Match Play this week? Are you happy to see him using a different putter? Share your thoughts and comments over on the GolfMagic social media channels.