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Why Rory McIlroy is copying Jason Day’s TaylorMade driver build specs

January 23, 2020

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. With that in mind, Rory McIlroy might want to send Jason Day a thank you gift if his latest equipment change produces a win this season.

In the run-up to the first round of the Farmers Insurance Open, McIlroy chose to make a few last-minute changes to the TaylorMade SIM driver he’s using for the first time. Early in the week, we photographed McIlroy with a 9-degree SIM head in the bag, the loft sleeve positioned in the “standard” setting.

All seemed to be going according to plan for McIlroy to use the driver until he saw Jason Day. The Aussie had a 10.5-degree SIM head built but turned the loft sleeve down two degrees to open the face and hit a stock fade off the tee. Moving the face open also mitigated the possibility of the ball going hard left — a shot few professionals ever want to see.

According to TaylorMade Tour rep Chris Trott, McIlroy tried out Day’s exact setup and proceeded to hit rockets on the range — to the point that he asked for an exact version of the driver head. It’s not uncommon for players to use the same product as a peer who’s on a hot streak, but very rarely do they ever request the exact same build.

Rory McIlroy is using TaylorMade's SIM driver for the first time this week at Torrey Pines.
Rory McIlroy is using TaylorMade's SIM driver for the first time this week at Torrey Pines.
Andrew Tursky

TaylorMade Tour tech Wade Liles went to work matching the head finishing loft on Day’s driver to McIlroy’s new 10.5 degree SIM (loft sleeve two degrees lower). From there, the driver was good to go — with the same Mitsubishi Kuro Kage 70X shaft — and the switch became official. The sliding weight on McIlroy’s driver remains in the neutral position.

Along with Tiger Woods, McIlroy is one of a handful of names using TaylorMade SIM for the first time at Torrey Pines.

To hear more gear insights from Jonathan Wall and True Spec’s Tim Briand, subscribe and listen each week to GOLF’s Fully Equipped podcast: iTunes | SoundCloud | Spotify | Stitcher