LOUISVILLE, Ky. – With a straight face the newly crowned world No. 1 told the assembled media on Tuesday at Valhalla Golf Club that he’s “driven the ball well the last few weeks.”
After the laughter abated, Rory McIlroy went on to explain that he now has the ability to work the ball in both directions and is hitting it farther than he ever has. He also said that he's added nearly seven pounds of muscle recently.
“I’ve always had the speed and I’ve always had the power, but I haven’t really had the strength or the stability to hold on to it my whole way through the swing,” said McIlroy, fresh off back-to-back victories at the Open Championship and last week’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
From an accuracy point of view, McIlroy’s driving has bettered dramatically this season. Through last year’s Bridgestone, the Northern Irishman was hitting 57.6 percent of his fairways on the PGA Tour, compared to his current average of 59.7 percent.
But it’s his added distance that may be the most impressive. McIlroy is averaging nearly nine more yards per drive this season (301 yards) than he did last year.
“If I can hit it over 300 yards and in the fairway most of the time, I’m happy enough with that,” he said. “That gives me plenty of opportunities to hit it close to flags and try and make birdies.”
It is a realty that no one in this week’s field is laughing about.