Coach Michael Bannon points to Rory McIlroy’s mental strength

Henrik Stenson says US PGA champion is ‘just playing phenomenal golf’

Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell: believes Rory McIlroy will “win as many Majors as he wants – within reason”. Photograph: Getty Images

Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell: believes Rory McIlroy will “win as many Majors as he wants – within reason”. Photograph: Getty Images

Tue, Aug 12, 2014, 01:00

A swing homegrown in Holywood has developed into the most admired in golf, but Michael Bannon – who has nurtured that rhythmical swing that has enabled Rory McIlroy to claim back-to-back Major titles – believes the golfer’s mental strength has been the key.

“The greatest thing is his bravery,” said Bannon, McIlroy’s coach adding: “This victory is so different from the first two (the US Open in 2011 and the US PGA in 2012). In winning the Open and now a second PGA, he is showing this ability to hold on and be strong down the stretch and win. It just shows the mental strength he has.”

And McIlroy’s winning streak has left his Ryder Cup team-mate Henrik Stenson in little doubt there will be more Major titles awaiting the Ulsterman down the line. “He’s on a roll, he is the best player in the world and is just playing phenomenal golf,” said the Swede, who finished tied-third behind McIlroy at Valhalla.

“He’s got the confidence. I think more than anything, you see that when you get off to a bad start or have a bad hole or two. When you’ve got that confidence, you can make birdie on the next or eagle on the next. You can come back. He just keeps coming back and playing aggressive and good golf. So it’s just to take our hats off and give him the appreciation he deserves,” added Stenson.

On comparing him to Tiger Woods, Stenson responded: “It’s always hard to compare players. If he’s not the same, he’s not far behind. He’s got every opportunity to move on from here . . . and if I told you that he were to win at least one Major in the next five or seven years every year, you wouldn’t be surprised, would you? He’s got the opportunity to do that. It’s up to him.”

Graeme McDowell was also singing from the same hymn sheet as Stenson. “It’s a case of how the guy continues to motivate himself. You don’t know what the number is. It’s however many he wants. He’ll win as many Majors as he wants – within reason,” said McDowell.

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