Rory McIlroy Masterclass: 5 Keys To Rory’s Open Win

We take a look at the five keys that transformed Rory McIlroy into an Open Champion and delve through the GM archives for an insight into the 2014 Claret Jug winner’s game.

Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy has opened up a six-shot lead in the 143rd Open Championship at Royal Liverpool Golf Club
(Image credit: Getty Images)

We take a look at the five keys that transformed Rory McIlroy into an Open Champion and delve through the GM archives for an insight into the 2014 Claret Jug winner’s game.

Rory McIlroy’s march to victory at Hoylake was impressive for the overall quality of his performance.

We take a look at the five keys that transformed Rory McIlroy into an Open Champion and delve through the GM archives for an insight into the 2014 Claret Jug winner’s game.

1 Overall Driving

For those who stand by the mantra, ‘drive for show, putt for dough’ take a look at the top of the world rankings.

The two highest ranked players, Adam Scott and Rory McIlroy, are also the two best drivers in the game.

On the first hole of his final round, Rory McIlroy had the confidence to pull his Nike Covert 2.0 driver and take the bunkers out of play.

As others hit irons to lay up short, the 25 year-old split the fairway, smashing his drive 296-yards into the wind. An opening birdie was the result – it was a powerful statement to the rest of the field.

McIlroy averaged 328-yards off the tee at Hoylake, 45 yards longer than the average. And it was this combination of power and accuracy that was largely responsible for the six shot lead he took into the final round. His eagles on 16 and 18 on Saturday placed him firmly in the driving seat.

Rory Tips: The secret to Rory McIlroy’s powerful, accurate driving game

2 Gameplan

Rory has been criticised in the past for his course management, throwing shots away unnecessarily as other players carefully plot their way to success.

But confidence is the key for McIlroy and his aggression from the tee set up birdie chances that past the rest by.

That the Northern Irishman has the guts to go for it while others are avoiding disaster offers a window into the positive mindset that was at the heart of his Hoylake success.

This was an exhibition of selective aggression because McIlroy knew that to win at Hoylake he’d need to make plenty of birdies.

Rory Video: How McIlroy’s club line-up changed for Hoylake

3 Pitching and chipping

Rory McIlory has one of the most accomplished pitching and chipping game’s in world golf. Missing the 17th green in the final round, he knew an up and down would give him a crucial cushion to survive a potentially dangerous final hole.

The touch he showed under the most intense Major Championship pressure was incredible.

The key to McIlroy’s short game mastery is the freedom with which he plays. Without having to think about the mechanics of the swing, McIlroy is free to focus 100% on his target and distance control.

The smooth rhythm of both his chipping and pitching strokes lies at the heart of his success here. With a soft grip pressure and unhurried tempo his judgement of distance never let him down.

Rory Tips: McIlroy’s pitching masterclass

4 Hoylake Preparation

After his desperate performance at Muirfield in 2013 that yielded a missed cut and much embarrassment, many questioned whether McIlroy would ever have what it takes to win the Open Championship on a windswept links.

Fast-forward 12 months, the outlook couldn’t be more different. So what changed?

Well in the build-up to this one, McIlory visited Hoylake two weeks before the Championship. He then remained in the UK, competing in the Scottish Open at Royal Aberdeen the week before.

This tactic clearly gave the Northern Irishman a better overall feel for the unique challenge of links golf. From his ability to control his ball flight to his touch into and around the greens, he was primed and ready for a far more successful assault on the Claret Jug. Expect nothing to change for his 2015 campaign!

Rory Video: How McIlroy prepared for Hoylake

5 Putting

Trying to find a weakness in Rory McIlroy’s game is not easy but if you had to pinpoint something it would probably be his putting.

The Northern Irishman is a streaky putter – when its on, he’s capable of holing out from anywhere but when he’s off, it seems to undermine the confidence in the rest of his game.

At Hoylake, we saw a much more steady, clinical putting performance.

He had the pace of the greens throughout the week and in those dying moments on Saturday afternoon when his lead went from a nose to a length, it was his putting that transformed his immense ball-striking into a cushion that was almost unassailable.

Like his chipping and pitching technique, there is a freedom about McIlroy on the greens. Nothing complicated, nothing uncomfortable – he let the putter flow and the results spoke for themselves.

Rory Tips: Read his keys to putting

Neil Tappin
Digital Editor

In his current role, Neil is responsible for testing drivers and golf balls. Having been a part of the Golf Monthly team for over 15 years and playing off a handicap of 3, he has the experience to compare performance between models, brands and generations. For 2022 he thinks the main trend in drivers is: "In a word, consistency. Whilst all the brands are talking about ball speed (and the new drivers are certainly long), my biggest finding has been how much more consistent the ball flights are. Mishits don't seem to be causing the same level of drop-off or increase in the spin numbers. This means that more shots seem to be flying the way you want them to!" As far as golf balls are concerned the biggest development is in the, "three piece, non-Tour, urethane-covered section. For regular golfers, these models offer superb performance at both ends of the bag without denting your wallet quite as much as the premium Tour-played options."

Originally working with the best coaches in the UK to produce instruction content, he is now the brand's Digital Editor and covers everything from Tour player interviews to gear reviews. In his time at Golf Monthly, he has covered equipment launches that date back well over a decade. He clearly remembers the launch of the Callaway and Nike square drivers as well as the white TaylorMade driver families, such as the RocketBallz! If you take a look at the Golf Monthly YouTube channel, you'll see his equipment videos dating back over a decade! He has also conducted 'What's In The Bag' interviews with many of the game's best players like Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm. Over the years, Neil has tested a vast array of products in each category and at drastically different price-points. 

Neil is currently playing: Driver: TaylorMade Stealth Plus Fairway Wood: Titleist TSR2 Hybrid: Titleist TS3 Irons (4-9): Mizuno JPX 919 Forged Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 46˚, 50˚, 54˚, 60˚ Putter: Odyssey Triple Track Ten Ball: Titleist Pro V1X