The One Stat Rory McIlroy Needs To Improve To Win The Masters
Despite Scottie Scheffler's imperious and serene victory on Sunday at The Masters, Rory McIlroy stole a large chunk of the headlines thanks to a stunning display of ball striking that saw him finish in a tie for second place. The Northern Irishman was at his very, very best during his eight-under par round of 64 on Sunday, eagling the 13th hole and holing out spectacularly from the bunker on the 18th hole for birdie. In the end, he finished just three shots shy of Scheffler and recorded his best ever finish at a Masters.
So, while Sunday was a resounding success that McIlroy will be looking to build on, what part of his game wasn't firing on all cylinders on the first three days? While rounds of 73, 73 and 71 represented three very solid days of golf, where can Rory find the incremental gains he needs to finally slip on a Green Jacket and lock up golf's Grand Slam of Majors?
Let's start where he doesn't need any help - his driving. Unsurprisingly, McIlroy topped the driving stats for the week at Augusta National. He averaged 318.5 yards off the tee and was second only to Kevin Na in green in regulation stats too, hitting 69.44% of greens. His accuracy was solid off the tee too. While his 68% of fairways hit wasn't top of the standings, it was right up there all week.
So with his driver and irons clearly dialled in from a distance and accuracy point of view, let's focus in on Rory's short game to see where he can make the vital gains at Augusta. McIlroy found himself T20th on the putting stats for the week. It's by no means a disastrous performance, but these numbers were likely helped by his final round 64 and it's an area of his game that no doubt could do with a polish.
McIlroy had 116 putts across the 72 holes last week which equates to an average of 1.61 putt per hole. To put that into context, the hottest putter of the week Justin Thomas had 107 putts all week and still finished eight shots behind McIlroy. On Augusta's famously undulating greens, Rory did find a bit of rhythm this week but he'll have to go one step further again if he's to ever win at the famous Georgia course. Despite a four putt on the final hole, eventual champion Scottie Scheffler had six less putts than Rory.
One final area of improvement could be found out of Augusta's famous white sanded bunkers. McIlroy was only 60% for sand-saves all week, failing to get up-and-down of the bunker four times across the week. Compare that to 88% by Justin Thomas and you've got another part of the game Rory can maybe tighten up going into the 2023 event. All this aside, it was a triumphant round of golf from Rory McIlroy on Sunday. He described it "as happy as I've ever been" on a golf course and it certainly looked that way watching from home. Will 2022 spell the end of Rory's major drought?
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Dan has been with Golf Monthly team since 2021. He graduated with a Masters degree in International Journalism from the University of Sussex and looks after equipment reviews and buyer's guides, specializing in golf shoe, golf bag and golf cart reviews. Dan has now tested and reviewed over 30 pairs of golf shoes and is an expert in the field. A left-handed golfer, his handicap index is currently 6.5 and he plays at Fulford Heath Golf Club in the West Midlands.
Dan is currently playing:
Driver: TaylorMade Stealth 2
Hybrid: Ping G425
Wedges: Ping Glide Forged Pro
Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour X
Ball: TaylorMade TP5x
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