For just a moment …
Can we please forget all of the messy turmoil engulfing men’s professional golf and just focus on the beauty of the game? Specifically, Rory McIlory off the tee.
In winning the PGA Tour’s season-ending Tour Championship this past week in Atlanta, McIlroy rewrote a centuries-old golf truism: You can drive for show and for dough.
The show he put on with his driver led directly to Rory collecting the 18-million-dollar FedEx Cup first prize.
At a mere 5’9″ tall, weighing 160 pounds, the 33-year-old Northern Irishman blew his tee shots past every other player, easily.
He led the elite field in driving distance in every single round, averaging 315.8 yards per drive for the week. And that’s counting all the par-4 tee shots Rory hit with something less than driver. And, by the way, that was on a rain-soaked East Lake course that provided almost no roll. The average McIlroy tee shot easily flew more than 300 yards. Did I mention he’s 5’9″, 160?
McIlroy is the most athletic player on the PGA Tour since a healthy Tiger Woods. His synchronized flow with driver in hand produces exponential power.
It’s as if Rory is a cable that he winds into a taut spring and then releases to create explosive force that is maximized at the perfect time.
The long-driving McIlroy is quite different from the brute Bryson DeChambeau with his extra 50-pounds of muscle and violent attack. Rory is the Ferrari to DeChambeau’s Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda.
Rory’s swing is like a one-man dance with flowing rhythm, precise balance and a weight-transfer that creates the utmost club-head speed.
A thing of beauty is a joy for ever.
McIlroy’s swing off the tee is like a combination of three of baseball’s greatest home run hitters. It is Babe Ruth’s body turn, the erupting power of the release of Hank Aaron’s forearms and wrists along with the hand-eye coordination of Willie Mays.
Rory is able to generate the force normally reserved for much larger human beings and then create the perfect path and angle for his driver to send his golfball where it shouldn’t really be going.
On East Lake’s 12 par-4s and 2 par-5s (56 total), McIlroy hit his driver 46 times. He hit 32 of those 46 drives more than 320 yards. That translates to a ridiculous 70% of Rory’s drives going past 320. 16 drives went more than 330 yards — so more than one of every three. Did I mention he’s only 5’9″, 160?
Of course, longer drives lead to shorter approach shots. Rory ended the week tied for fourth in greens hit in regulation. Combine that with a ranking of second in strokes-gained putting and you’ve got a winner.
Not every one of McIlroy’s drives was a home run. In fact his very first swing of the week resulted in a snap-hook out-of-bounds that led to a triple-bogey. “Yeah, I got off to the worst start possible,” he said. “I tried to hit this little guidey cut into the fairway, body stopped, double-crossed it, ball went left and OB. It was sort of — there’s a lesson in there somewhere, even when you’re not sure about what you’re trying to do, sort of going full speed for me is the best way forward.”
Thankfully there was no holding back from there for McIlroy. We watched with awe. We wondered: How did he do that? We asked: Did you see that? That, ladies and gentlemen, was one helluva show.