Rory McIlroy made a strong impression with his powerful drives at the British Open — including his 396-yard bomb on the 17th hole Friday — but when it came time to close out his win, McIlroy switched to a 2-iron and didn’t miss a beat.
Before the Scottish Open two weeks ago, McIlroy decided to add the new Nike MM Proto 2-iron and used it frequently at both the Scottish Open and the British Open. Then when McIlroy got to the 17th and 18th tees at Royal Liverpool on Sunday, he used the rookie club to seal the deal.
“I hit the MM PROTO quite a bit, in particular, my last four shots in the Championship were with the MM Proto," McIlroy said in an email to Golf.com. "I hit two 2-irons on the 17th and two 2-irons on the 18th. I trusted the MM PROTO and it proved a good choice for the week.”
Another choice McIlroy had to make last week involved his wedges, namely, how many would he carry? Although numerous low scores made Royal Liverpool seem like a conquered course, there were aspects of it that still made life difficult for many players (see Woods, Tiger). Royal Liverpool's length (just less than 7,300 yards) was an average test for young bombers like McIlroy, but additional concerns, like tee-shot accuracy, made choosing 14 clubs a difficult decision last week.
“Course setup and length really determines my club selection for each tournament,” McIlroy said. “Some courses have a lot more wedge shots than others so I find having four wedges gives me greater flexibility. However, accuracy off the tee was important at Hoylake and there were fewer wedge shots than normal so three wedges were enough for this week.”
The 2-iron replacing the 5-wood wasn’t the only big change that helped McIlroy win his third career major at Royal Liverpool. He tweaked his putter, too.
Pete Powell, a club technician at Nike, changed the lie on McIlroy’s Nike Method putter two weeks ago before the Scottish Open by one degree. Throughout his Open Championship victory, McIlroy one-putted 34 times, or 47 percent of the time, to extend his lead throughout the dominant, wire-to-wire performance.
“It made a huge difference for me,” McIlroy said, “and the results were evident.”