6. KEEP YOUR SHOULDERS CLOSED
Another signature Rory move is the way he keeps his shoulders closed for so long on his downswing. Although he starts rapidly turning his hips counterclockwise as soon as he reaches the top, he keeps his shoulders pointing right of the target until he just about reaches impact. This is his key for getting the club swinging on the perfect plane and the clubhead moving on the desired inside path to the ball. Important: The shoulders control the path of the club to impact while the hips control the path of the club past impact. If you want to hit the ball longer, straighter and with a slight draw, mimic Rory's open hips and closed shoulders as you swing down and through the hitting zone. If you move your shoulders too early, you'll hit the ball on an outside path.
HOW TO IMPROVE CONTROL: Hit a few "hinge" shots
This drill might seem similar to the previous exercise, but if done correctly it will accomplish a different task. To do it, set up with a mid-iron with your feet close together and hit shots by simply cocking your wrists in the backswing and then delivering the clubhead to the ball from that position. The handle shouldn't go higher than your waist in the backswing or finish. To really learn the correct moves, stick a tee in the hole at the top of the grip and make sure it points at the ball at the end of your backswing and where the ball used to be in your finish. You should quickly begin to develop an increased sensitivity to what the clubface is doing and how to make sure it's square at impact. You'll also begin to realize that you have to let the toe of the club turn over in order to hit the ball solidly and straight.
7. PUTT NATURALLY
An interesting development in Rory's game is how much his putting has improved following his breakdown at the 2011 Masters. Since then, Rory has worked hard to stroke putts in competition with the same level of commitment and purpose he applies to his full-swing shots. He's now much more committed to holing putts rather than to simply trying to make a stroke. The work has paid off: McIlroy led all players in 2012 in Birdie or Better Conversion Percentage at 34.7%. If you tend to focus too much on mechanics when you putt, like Rory used to, forget them for the time being and focus on seeing the line and the speed you need to roll the ball to get it into the hole.
(Related Article: McIlroy named Golf Magazine's Player of the Year)
(Related Photos: Best moments from Rory's historic season)