Brad Faxon dished on Rory McIlroy’s swing ‘secrets’. Rory wasn’t thrilled

Rory McIlroy works with Brad Faxon at the U.S. Open.

Rory McIlroy didn't seem thrilled with his putting coach Saturday.

Keyur Khamar/PGA TOUR via Getty Images

One of the biggest advantages Brad Faxon has as an analyst for NBC’s coverage of the U.S. Open this weekend is his side hustle as Rory McIlroy’s putting coach.

It’s a position that allows him to provide unique insight for the viewers on what McIlroy is working on.

But on Saturday’s broadcast for the third round of the U.S. Open, Faxon may have shared just a little more than his four-time major-winning client would have liked.

As Faxon explained, McIlroy, who entered this week off a T4 in Canada and a T15 at Memorial, had a bit of a revelation during his flight from Columbus to Pinehurst for the U.S. Open.

The eight-time PGA Tour winner said McIlroy and his team were sitting on the plane Sunday night when McIlroy turned to his longtime agent, Sean O’Flaherty and exclaimed: “Sean, I just figured it out.”

Because what golfer hasn’t had a revolutionary swing thought while cruising from one tournament to the next at 30,000 feet in a private jet?

Clearly not O’Flaherty as Faxon recalled.

“What do you mean?” responded O’Flaherty.

“I figured out my swing,” Faxon said McIlroy continued.

“He got up in the aisle and showed him,” Faxon explained. “He started standing a little closer to the ball.”

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That’s when Brandel Chamblee, who’s serving as NBC’s lead analyst this week, pointed out that was a bit of a first-world experience.

“That’s harder to do in 23C,” he quipped.

But clearly, this was no random thought as McIlroy has put on a ball-striking clinic this week. Through three rounds, McIlroy leads the field in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee, Strokes Gained: Tee to Green, and driving distance.

He’s also 7th in Strokes Gained: Around the Green, a big reason why he’s in a tie for second, three shots back of Bryson DeChambeau as the final round begins at Pinehurst No. 2.

It was valuable insight from Faxon, but clearly, as McIlroy seemed to imply later, insight the World No. 3 would have rather his putting coach kept close to the vest.

After finishing up his third-round 69 that put him four under for the tournament, Kira Dixon, typically a Golf Channel/NBC staple but working this week’s major for their partner network Sky Sports, asked McIlroy about the “Eureka moment.”

“Our NBC colleague Brad Faxon was saying on the broadcast that you had a bit of a ‘Eureka moment’ on the plane from the Memorial back home. You figured something out, you got up and you were making practice swings, apparently,” Dixon said as McIlroy perked up seemingly in surprise.

“OK!” McIlroy quipped.

“Is this true and if so, what is the Eureaka moment there?” Dixon finished her question.

McIlroy seemed caught off guard and paused for a moment in a sheepish grin.

“Uhhh, it may be true,” he finally said. “I don’t know if I want to disclose that right now.”

“But it’s nice to know Fax is giving away all of our secrets,” he added sarcastically as both of them starting laughing. Then he played damage control. “We spend a lot of time on planes and I spend a lot of time thinking about my game when I’m in the air and sometimes things come to me.”

The delicate interview won’t be the only situation McIlroy faces this weekend as he’s due to play his final round with Patrick Cantlay, his first pairing with the American since the infamous “hate-gate” incident at the Ryder Cup last fall.

Whether the tweak is as simple as Faxon described or there was more to it, it won’t matter Sunday evening if McIlroy is able to come from three shots back and claim his first major title in a decade.

Jack Hirsh Editor

Jack Hirsh is an assistant editor at GOLF. A Pennsylvania native, Jack is a 2020 graduate of Penn State University, earning degrees in broadcast journalism and political science. He was captain of his high school golf team and recently returned to the program to serve as head coach. Jack also still *tries* to remain competitive in local amateurs. Before joining GOLF, Jack spent two years working at a TV station in Bend, Oregon, primarily as a Multimedia Journalist/reporter, but also producing, anchoring and even presenting the weather. He can be reached at



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