Rory McIlroy has been engulfed in a bit of a controversy after admitting he missed his old driver in the aftermath of missing the cut at The Players Championship this weekend.
McIlroy finished in a share of second place last week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational but was miles off it at golf's 5th major, finishing on five over par after rounds of 76 and 73.
When McIlroy falters these days, it's mostly put down to the demands of his role as the de facto commissioner of the PGA Tour. However, a discussion around the technical elements of his game became a talking point after his post-round interview yesterday.
McIlroy struggled off the tee Thursday and Friday and here he is complaining that he couldn't use his old TaylorMade driver, in a clip cut down to seven seconds that has been viewed over 400,0000 times on Twitter.
Someone’s unhappy with their current driver situation 🥶
with the masters, being just 3.5 weeks away, finding a solution ASAP is imperative pic.twitter.com/WeSNgDWj4d
— Rory McIlroy Tracker 🍀 (@RMTracker) March 11, 2023
Here’s the full exchange:
"Can we kind of presume that you might have had more time to, for example, to set in the new driver and get to work with that had you not got so much else on your plate?"
RORY McILROY: Yeah, I wish I didn't have to bed in a new driver, I wish I could just use the old one, but yeah, it is what it is.
Out of context, it sounds like McIlroy is having a pop at the people who make his golf clubs - TaylorMade - but the context does matter here.
Rory McIlroy changes his driver
McIlroy retired the driver that had proven massively successful for him last year after the first round of the Riviera last month.
McIlroy uses TaylorMade clubs, and he switched from the StealthPlus to TaylorMade's brand-new Stealth 2 Plus.
After shooting 76 on Thursday, McIlory said he moved on from his driver because it was so well-used, it was at risk of failing the PGA’s characteristic time (CT) test.
As he told reporters “the more a club is used, the more it’s hit, the more springy the face becomes.”
This would obviously give him an unfair advantage.
(For anyone interested in a great technical explanation behind the CT Test, we recommend this Golf.com article)
McIlroy has yet to find the comfort zone with the Stealth Plus 2. His comments are being interpreted by many on social media as a dig at his own club provider, which has heavily marketed the club and its 'fargiveness' factor.
Stealth 2 sucks confirmed https://t.co/sitVVJwaEG
— Cameron (@Killaa_Caam) March 12, 2023
“Fargiveness” 😂 https://t.co/cbUClw4RFH
— jordan (@j_bille97) March 12, 2023
But it appears something in being lost in the soundbite here.
Kurt Kitayama won the Arnold Palmer last week with the Stealth Plus 2 last week so the driver can’t be that bad.
The problem in actual fact seems to be McIlroy having to break in a brand-new driver on some of the most challenging courses on the PGA Tour.
As he said Thursday:
These driver heads are so finicky, it's hard to get one exactly the same.
Yeah, I mean, I'm obviously trying my best, trying to get something that's as close to what I had last year. Yeah, just struggled a little bit off the tee the last couple weeks.
It's not an issue of just switching back to the club he used last year. It's down to the specific driver head.
Either way, with Augusta looming in less than a month, the teebox is just another place where McIlroy finds himself under pressure.
SEE ALSO: Shane Lowry Snaps Club After Hitting Tree At Sawgrass