Rory McIlroy makes an unusual gear switch for Friday at the Genesis Invitational

Rory changed to the TaylorMade Stealth 2 Plus for round two at the Genesis Invitational

Getty Images - Harry How

It was a surprisingly normal Thursday for Rory McIlroy off the tee at the Genesis Invitational. In a field of 129, the World No. 2 ranked just 39th in strokes gained: off the tee. Not bad, but certainly not at the level that got McIlroy to 3rd on Tour in that same category last season. And in his post-round presser, it was clear he knew it.

“I’m going to go work on the range,” he told reporters. “I put my driver up a click in loft at the start of the week, I might have to turn it back down again. I don’t like [Tiger] hitting it by

On Friday, McIlroy returned to Riviera with change on his mind — and much more than a “click in loft.” When Rory arrived at the course on Friday, he’d changed up his driver from the first-generation Stealth Plus to a second-generation Stealth 2 Plus.

The move was, to put it lightly, a surprise. Although Rory made changes to his wedge setup prior to the start of his 2023 season, his first-gen Stealth Plus driver has been a mainstay in the bag going back to the start of the 2022 season.

Rory McIlroy at the 2022 Open Championship Getty Images

The driver change is looking like a good one for Rory, who jumped from 39th in the field in SG: off-the-tee on Thursday to 3rd on Friday.

The highlight reel certainly enjoyed the change, too. Even though it represents a statistical outlier, Rory recorded the longest drive of the tournament with the new driver in his bag, a whopping 388-yard blast that measured some 50 yards longer than his longest drive of round of 1.

Of course, it’s possible he could switch back to old reliable for round 3 on Saturday, but after vaulting himself to 6-under for the week on Friday at Riviera, it’s possible the Stealth 2 Plus is here to stay.

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Ryan Barath Editor

Ryan Barath is GOLF Magazine and’s senior editor for equipment. He has an extensive club-fitting and -building background with more than 20 years of experience working with golfers of all skill levels, including PGA Tour players. Before joining the staff, he was the lead content strategist for Tour Experience Golf, in Toronto, Canada.