Can the Northern Irishman rediscover his best form under the guidance of Pete Cowen?

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Rory McIlroy At “Start Of A Journey” With Pete Cowen

For perhaps the first time since he clinched the third leg of the career grand slam, the attention on Rory McIlroy isn’t as focused on his obvious quest to win the Masters and add the green jacket to his major collection.

Instead, after being suckered in by Bryson DeChambeau‘s aggressive pursuit of swing speed and distance, the Northern Irishman officially started working with Pete Cowen just two weeks prior to the first major of the year, in a bid to address some swing flaws he had developed.

And McIlroy, who fell out of the world’s top-10 for the first time in three years after the 2021 Arnold Palmer Invitational, has detailed some of the things Cowen has already helped him with and admitted it’s refreshing to get a fresh set of eyes involved.

He said: “He’s just giving me a better understanding of what I do and what I do well, and when it maybe isn’t going so well, what are the things that I can do to sort of fix myself in way. I think that’s the thing.

“So, you know, it’s the start of a journey with Pete and it’s not as if we haven’t worked before. I’ve known Pete for nearly 20 years so it’s nothing new, really, but I just think a second set of eyes and someone with Pete’s knowledge and wisdom can only be a good thing.”

Everyone who watches golf knows that when McIlroy is firing on all cylinders he’s virtually unbeatable, but in recent times, the lack of an apparent B-game seems to have held him back in the big events.

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While the best players in the world make shooting 65s and 66s look easy, often it’s the grinding out of a level-par round that could easily have been four or five shots worse that is the difference between winning and losing.

‘Developing feels’ is something we’ve heard Jack Nicklaus and Jordan Spieth talk about when it comes to finding a fix on the course, and with Cowen on board, that’s what McIlroy is hoping to add to his own game.

“Yeah, you sort of get to learn your own feels and your own movements and make sure that you’re doing them the way you want to do them.

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“And if you maybe don’t hit such a great shot, you just go back to those feels that you think you need to have.”

McIlroy’s long-time coach Michael Bannon remains on the team but it’ll be interesting to see if the addition of Cowen has an immediate impact on the Northern Irishman’s game.

The four-time major winner will tee it up for rounds one and two of the 2021 Masters alongside Xander Schauffele and new father Jon Rahm, with the trio heading out at 3:42pm BST on Thursday.