Rory McIlroy is out at The Players Championship, and it wasn't particularly close.
The golfer missed the cut at TPC Sawgrass by a full 10 strokes, finishing the second round at 10-over on Friday. It was a brutal couple of days for McIlroy, with the low point coming on a quadruple bogey to end his first round.
The big surprise from the 2019 Players champion came after the second round, though, as he revealed a curious reason for his struggles.
"Probably the swing issues and where it all stems from, probably like October last year, doing a little bit of speed training, started getting sucked into that stuff, swing got flat, long, and too rotational,'' he said. "Obviously I added some speed and am hitting the ball longer, but what that did to my swing as a whole probably wasn't a good thing, so I'm sort of fighting to get back out of that. That's what I'm frustrated with.''
Basically, McIlroy — who is already one of the PGA Tour's longest drivers — had been trying to hit the ball harder, and it cost him elsewhere in his swing.
"I'd be lying if I said it wasn't anything to do with what Bryson did at the U.S. Open,'' McIlroy said of DeChambeau, who won the U.S. Open in September at Winged Foot by 6 shots. "I think a lot of people saw that and were like, 'Whoa, if this is the way they're going to set golf courses up in the future, it helps. It really helps.'
"The one thing that people don't appreciate is how good Bryson is out of the rough. Not only because of how upright he is but because his short irons are longer than standard, so he can get a little more speed through the rough than us, than other guys.
"And I thought being able to get some more speed is a good thing, and I maybe just — to the detriment a little bit of my swing, I got there, but I just need to maybe rein it back in a little bit.''
There is apparently more to DeChambeau's success than adding mass. The 2019 U.S. Open champion currently sits in a tie for fifth at 6-under at The Players, three strokes back from leader Lee Westwood.
It is true that McIlroy has recently seen major gains in the distance department; his average driving distance ranks second to only DeChambeau among PGA Tour golfers this year and is up more than six yards from his average in 2019. That improvement has indeed failed to translate to success, however. McIlroy hasn't won an event since the WGC-HSBC Champions in Nov. 2019
Curiously, it wasn't errant drivers or irons that cost McIlroy the most at The Players. Errant drives led to his worst holes, but data golf's live strokes gained statistics found that McIlroy's putting is where struggled the most. Only two players had a worse mark than McIlroy's -3.21 average, though his mark off the tee, -1.26, wasn't great either.
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