ORLANDO, Fla. – Two tweaks have Rory McIlroy in position to earn his first PGA Tour title in 18 months.
The first was to McIlroy’s long game.
One of the game’s preeminent ball-strikers and most prodigious drivers, he has struggled over the past few weeks, including a missed cut at last week’s Valspar Championship.
The fix was “a feeling” with his backswing. He said that he’s trying to feel as though he’s making a three-quarter backswing, because when he’s too long he misses both ways.
“I’m just bunting it around,” he said with a smile, but actually he’s ranked first in driving distance this week.
The second fix was to his maligned putting stroke.
Ranked 124th on Tour in putting, McIlroy met with former PGA Tour player and putting savant Brad Faxon for a few hours Monday at the Bear’s Club in South Florida.
“I didn’t really hit many putts,” McIlroy said. “It was more of a psychology lesson than anything else.”
The goal was to making McIlroy’s putting more instinctive and reactive, instead of being bogged down with mechanics.
It has worked so far. Through three rounds, he is ranked second in strokes gained-putting, gaining more than seven-and-a-half shots on the field on the greens.
McIlroy’s third-round 67 put him in the penultimate group, just two shots back of Henrik Stenson.
“I can’t really ask for much more,” McIlroy said.