Rory McIlroy happy that swing kinks have been ironed out ahead of Memorial

World number one was able to fly his coach Michael Bannon to Florida

Forget the past few weeks if you will. Don’t quite erase it, just let it hang in the background; for Rory McIlroy – world number one – is ready to make a big splash at the Memorial tournament after what he describes as using his first three starts of the PGA Tour’s rebooting as a way to ease back into competition: “I sort of treated them as sort of dipping my toes back in the water again,” he said.

A sign of McIlroy's intent? In the two weeks since he last played, at the Travelers, he used a waiver to get his coach Michael Bannon to fly stateside to tweak parts of his swing. The coach stayed in his guesthouse, and their time was spent at the nearby Bears Club.

“It was good to see him because obviously I’ve sent him videos over the last few months and he can see what the swing is doing, but it’s hard for him to see what the ball flight is and just all the sort of stuff that goes along with being a golf coach,” explained McIlroy.

“So for him to see how I’m hitting it, what was going on, it was just a great thing. . . my club face was getting a little shut going in, my right arm was getting a little too much on top of the shaft instead of letting my right elbow fold and getting a little bit of external rotation in my shoulder.”


So, with the world number one ranking on the line, it would seem like a more clued-in McIlroy has returned for his second stint of the tour's restart at one of his favoured venues, even if he has yet to annex the title to earn an 18th hole final day handshake – socially distant this year – from tournament host Jack Nicklaus.

McIlroy has shown glimpses of his game from those initial appearances. A 63 in the second round of the Colonial, a 65 in the second round of the Heritage, an opening 63 in the Travelers: but, when the titles were being dispensed, he was long finished (tied-32nd in the Charles Schwab, tied-41st at Hilton Head and tied-11th in the Travelers) which brought about the decision to hail Bannon across the Atlantic.

“There was spells in that three weeks that I felt like my game was there. It was just maybe a little erratic. I’d make a dumb mistake here or there, and then thinking back on it, there were just lapses in concentration, so it was more a mental thing. Looking back now, it was a great three weeks’ learning experience just knowing what I know now going forward.”

The line-up at the Memorial is the strongest in the tournament’s history. Indeed, it is the strongest of any regular PGA Tour event ever. And McIlroy allowed himself a smile on repeating the statistic comparing it to the Masters.

"This is a huge event. I saw a stat that this field is stronger than the last eight Masters tournaments in terms of strength of field, so there's a lot of obviously world ranking points, and there's a lot to be focused on this week," said McIlroy, who has been grouped with Brooks Koepka and the returning Tiger Woods for the opening two rounds.

Woods completed his preparations by playing a practice round with Bryson DeChambeau, who has been a hot topic on tour with his bulked-up physique and increase in ball speed and driving distances.

“I’ve seen the videos that Bryson has been putting up, and he looks like he’s turned his livingroom into a golf laboratory, but look, he’s doing what he believes is the right path forward for him,” said McIlroy.

“And look, we’re here at Jack Nicklaus’s golf course, and Jack was the longest in his day, and it was a massive advantage, right. Length will always be an advantage in golf. It’s just the way it is.

“Even if some of these people that are talking about changing equipment or changing the ball, the longest are still going to be the longest, and the longest are still going to have an advantage,” added McIlroy, aware that – even without a beefed-up frame of his own – he is one of the few players within touching distance of DeChambeau on that score.