Butch Harmon Details What He Worked On With Rory McIlroy Ahead Of Latest Masters Bid

After a visit to see the veteran coach, could this finally be McIlroy's year to win The Masters?

Rory McIlroy smiling ahead of the 2024 Masters
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Butch Harmon has detailed what he worked on with Rory McIlroy during the Northern Irishman’s recent visit to the veteran coach’s Las Vegas facility.

After winning the Dubai Desert Classic on the DP World Tour in January, McIlroy has struggled to put four rounds together and challenge for another title.

It was perhaps most evident at the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass, where he opened with a seven-under 65 before going on to finish 11 shots behind eventual winner Scottie Scheffler despite posting a record number of birdies for the tournament.

Specifically, McIlroy, renowned as one of the best drivers in the game, has struggled with his approach play and ranks 62nd on the PGA Tour so far this season.

There were encouraging signs last week, however, in a third-place finish at the Valero Texas Open.

According to Data Golf, McIlroy ranked third in this category, gaining nearly eight shots on the field average across the four days.

Harmon, who has worked with some of the biggest names in the history of the sport, explained the root cause of McIlroy’s short-iron struggles and said viewers can expect to see him holding off his follow-through in a bid to better judge distance at Augusta National this week.

Asked why his wedge game was misfiring, Harmon said on Sky Sports Golf's coverage during The Masters: “The big, long backswing, the big, long follow-through. [The] ball flight was very high, we talked about the easiest way to control is to take the ball out of the air and bring the ball back down.

“If you look at all good short iron, wedge players, they’re not throwing the ball up here, they’re throwing it down here so the ball can go the exact distance they want it to go.

“To do that we had to remove that long flowing follow-through [and] releasing club through impact because he was missing these greens to the left all the time.

“And you’ll see him today if he has these shorter shots, chopping the follow through off like he did last week, trying to put the clubface on the ball squarely and let his arms and body rotate together, sequencing up into it.”

As well as a more compact wedge swing, McIlroy is also working on a new takeaway drill which is designed to help him not get the club as stuck on the inside on the downswing.

“[You] set the club first and then turn,” Harmon added. “He tends to get his right arm behind him and with his speed coming down that meant that the club was behind him and he was always trying to catch up.

“So he hit a lot of balls with this drill. This is a two-piece drill, you put it right in line with your feet and then you just let the club go up as you turn.

“I’m telling you what he can hit it so good doing that.”

McIlroy begins his latest bid to capture the Green Jacket and complete the career Grand Slam alongside World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler and Xander Schauffele.

Andrew Wright
Freelance News Writer

A lifelong golf fan, Andy graduated in 2019 with a degree in Sports Journalism and got his first role in the industry as the Instruction Editor for National Club Golfer. From there, he decided to go freelance and now covers a variety of topics for Golf Monthly. 

Andy took up the game at the age of seven and even harboured ambitions of a career in the professional ranks for a spell. That didn’t pan out, but he still enjoys his weekend golf at Royal Troon and holds a scratch handicap. As a side note, he's made five holes-in-one and could quite possibly be Retief Goosen’s biggest fan.

As well as the above, some of Andy's work has featured on websites such as goal.com, dailyrecord.co.uk, and theopen.com.

What's in Andy's bag?

Driver: Callaway Mavrik Sub-Zero (9°)

3-wood: TaylorMade Stealth 2 Plus (15°)

Driving iron: Titleist U500 (17°)

Irons: Mizuno mp32 (4-PW)

Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM9 (50°, 54° and 58°)

Putter: Titleist Scotty Cameron Newport 2.5

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x