Spotted on Tour: Rory McIlroy’s slump-busting, Wells Fargo-winning driver

rory mcilroy swings driver

Rory McIlroy grabbed his first win in 18 months at the Wells Fargo Championship Sunday.

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At long last, Rory McIlroy is back in the winner’s circle on the PGA Tour.

After nearly 18 months of frustration, doubt, and failure, McIlroy won the 2021 Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow this weekend, outlasting Keith Mitchell en route to a one-stroke victory. The win — and ensuing emotional Mother’s Day celebration alongside his wife, Erica, and daughter Poppy — marked the official return of Rory’s game since beginning work with noted swing coach Pete Cowen last month.

That his win came just two weeks before the start of the 2021 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island — the same location as McIlroy’s 2012 thrashing at the PGA — only added to the moment’s significance, particularly considering that the four-time major champ felt his physical shape was far from 100 percent at Quail Hollow.

Rory celebrated his win in style.

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“I mean, yeah, relief that I’ve won again, relief that my season is sort of back on track, and more just satisfaction at the journey that I’m on and the process that I’ve been going through to try to get back to this point,” he said after the win Sunday. “There’s been a lot of hard work. I’ve put my head down, I haven’t really looked too much in either direction, I’ve just tried to do what I need to do…

“You know, for a couple of months there, all that hard work seemed like it was not really getting anywhere, wasn’t providing me with much, but then, as I said at the start, it’s such a funny week thinking that — knowing that my game was pretty good coming in here and then have my neck completely lock up on me on the range on Wednesday afternoon, not even thinking I was going to play on Thursday, and then I’m sitting here on Sunday night with a trophy,” McIlroy said. “It’s been a bit of a funny week in a way. Just glad that I got through it and played some really good golf over the weekend.”

Rory’s win at the Wells Fargo did not come without its hiccups. Most notably, the 32-year-old nearly hooked his drive on the 72nd hole into the water, and was forced to play his second shot from a riverbed. Still, his bogey on the 18th came with victory already secured, and was his first and only in the final round. For a player who’s struggled with performing on Sundays recently, the version of Rory McIlroy spotted during the final round was a welcome reprieve. And while many will remember that hook into the water as the lasting image of his driver play throughout the week, the stats tell a different story.

Using TaylorMade’s SIM2 driver, McIlroy ranked second in the field only to Bryson DeChambeau in driving distance at Quail Hollow, and ranked ninth in the field in strokes gained: tee-to-green. Rory has always been a long-hitter, but his performance this weekend was staggering, averaging close to 325 yards per drive. Those sort of stats speak to the advantage provided by being a long hitter — an advantage aided by McIlroy’s gear setup.

The second iteration of TaylorMade’s “speed in motion” (SIM) driver features many of the same technologies that made the first one a hit among pros and amateurs alike, including TwistFace, what TaylorMade calls the ‘inertia generator’, and carbon crowns throughout the club — all of which combine to create a fast, explosive clubface. In this year’s model, TaylorMade added a new sole plate and a blue aluminum back ring to improve the club’s performance and forgiveness.

Check out McIlroy’s SIM2 driver below or in a few weeks’ time at the PGA Championship, where he’ll look to nab his second major win at the Ocean Course.

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TaylorMade SIM2 Driver

$529.99
OUR TAKE: Asked to describe the look of the new SIM2 drivers, our testers labeled them as “futuristic,” “modern” and “fast.”  And who can argue when there’s all of that new-age carbon on the sole? While TaylorMade’s SIM2 drivers carry on the original name of the SIM (Shape in Motion) drivers that excelled in 2020, the company has made a few big changes. One initially skeptical GOLF tester took notice of the improvements: “I tried to hit the original SIM last year, but this new one feels a million times more solid. This is going to be tough to beat.”   THE DETAILS:  To craft its new SIM2 heads, TaylorMade combined proven technologies from recent years (TwistFace, Inertia Generator, Speed-Injected faces, thru-slots, carbon crowns) with all-new designs to make the drivers more forgiving. Most notably, a new sole plate is made up entirely of carbon composite to save weight, and there’s a new blue aluminum back ring, which connects the rear sole to the crown. The new pieces work together to drive weight back for better performance on mishits. Not a fan of the blue colorway? TaylorMade is now allowing for personalized color changes on five different areas in the heads through its MySIM2 custom platform.  Check out 150+ reviews from our gear experts in the ClubTest 2021 collection
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James Colgan

Golf.com Editor

James Colgan is an assistant editor at GOLF, contributing stories for the website and magazine on a broad range of topics. He writes the Hot Mic, GOLF’s weekly media column, and utilizes his broadcast experience across the brand’s social media and video platforms. A 2019 graduate of Syracuse University, James — and evidently, his golf game — is still defrosting from four years in the snow, during which time he cut his teeth at NFL Films, CBS News and Fox Sports. Prior to joining GOLF, James was a caddie scholarship recipient (and astute looper) on Long Island, where he is from.