Why Rory McIlroy’s latest driver swing change could make him even better

May 2, 2019

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – By all accounts, Rory McIlroy’s game has been pretty good this year. Really good actually. He’s first in SG: Off The Tee, 2nd in SG: Tee to Green, and 4th on SG: Overall. But hang around Tour players enough and you’ll learn that the journey towards getting better never stops, which is why Rory is introducing a few swing changes starting at the Wells Fargo Championship this week.

“I felt like going into Augusta, if I wanted to shape one, I would shape it a lot right to left or I would shape it a lot left to right where you’re aiming so far in either direction you’re playing for a big curve or a big miss,” Rory said. “That’s never really been my game.”

So Rory got to work on his mechanics. He changed two things. The first is relatively simple: He’s working on his posture, sticking his butt out slightly more to increase the amount of hip tilt.

But Rory’s also working on something else that could prove hugely significant: His backswing.

“I’m trying to get a little bit steeper in my shoulder plane, which starts with posture and staying in my posture. I was sort of coming up out of my posture and sort of falling back on my heels.”

You can see Rory working on it here using a simple drill below: Club across the shoulder, sharp posture, and then practicing turning back.

I wrote about this a few months ago, but what he’s protecting against has been a persistent feature in Rory’s swing that tends to sneak up on him off the tee. When the club moves too quickly around his body on the takeaway and backswing, Rory tends to lose the club behind him on the downswing. It’s usually why Rory blocks drives right, or occasionally attempts to save the clubface with his hands and hits a big hook. If his timing is perfect, he’ll hit a big, high draw — the exact ball flight Rory said he’s trying to neutralize.

It’s not a big change, but it’s one already evident in Rory’s swing. On the right is his takeaway at the Wells Fargo, compared with earlier this year. Notice how his weight is more towards his toes on the right frame, too.

And it’s nothing to sniff at, because while Rory’s driving has been good, his driving accuracy ranked 163rd in 2018 and 133rd so far in 2019, compared with 108th during his major winning 2014 and 77th during his FedEx Cup-winning 2016. Here’s Rory’s same swing compared to his 2014 move. As you can see, the shoulders are moving very similarly and the club is in almost exactly the same spot.