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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.
“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