‘One of the best drives in the history of the game’: Rory McIlroy does the incredible

Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy on Thursday after his tee shot on the 18th hole at Austin Country Club.

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Yes, this is Thursday. And not Sunday. And yes, this is the WGC-Match Play. And not a major. Let’s just get all of that out of the way now. 



Rory McIlory’s drive was that absolute. 

“It’s the best we’ve seen maybe ever here at Austin Country Club at the 18th,” announcer Steve Sands said on the Golf Channel broadcast. 

“That was one of the best drives in the history of the game,” analyst Brad Faxon said.  

“That was amazing,” Sands said.  

“Remarkable shot,” Faxon said. 

Indeed. On the 375-yard, par-4 finisher at Austin CC, McIlroy traveled about all of it on a single blow. His tee shot, with a slight fade, covered nearly 350 yards. It bounced off the upslope of the green. It rolled left to right. It stopped 3 feet, 9 inches away from the hole. During the second day of the event, McIlroy had been leading Denny McCarthy 1-up. And then McIlroy pretty much ended it.  Essentially, a walk-off drive. Admirably, McCarthy followed with a 320-yard pop of his own, and a wedge to 7 feet, but conceded from there. 

There’s even more here, though. 

Such as, McIlroy saw none of it. You can’t see the 18th green from the 18th tee. 

Eventually, Golf Channel on-course reporter Smylie Kaufman filled him in — though not completely.

“Smylie, one of the things that’s fascinating about the 18th tee is you can’t see the green,” Sands said on the broadcast. “You can see a big smile on Rory’s face. You delivered that news to him. What did you tell him?”

“I told him, I was like, Rory, you just flew it on the front of the green,” Kaufman said. ‘He said, noooo way.” 

“You didn’t tell him how far away it was?’ Faxon said.

“I just let that be the surprise,” Kaufman said. 

Nice. From about the middle of the hole, McIlroy finally saw, though. He and caddie Harry Diamond laughed. Fans cheered. McIlroy fixed his ball mark, near the front of the green, just past a bunker, then waited for McCarthy.   

“You know, sometimes, we exaggerate things,” announcer Jimmy Roberts said on the broadcast. “That is literally one of the best shots we’ve ever seen in golf.” 

“I’m not even sure how to contextualize that drive,” Sands said. “It’s as good a drive as you’ll ever see in the sport.” 

“And then add the situation to it, Jimmy,” Faxon said.

‘How many guys in the game are even capable of hitting that drive?” analyst Curt Byrum said.

Good question. And then was also this: McIlroy had been in a funk with his driver coming into the week. He tinkered with it. On Wednesday, he went with both a slightly shorter shaft, and a softer one.  

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Then he drove the green. 


“So you feeling good about this driver? Starting to trust it?” a reporter asked afterward.

“Yeah, it’s — I feel like I took it out of the box on Friday last week and the first two shots with it I was like, here we go,” McIlroy said. “That’s what it should be. When you’re trying to fit clubs and stuff, I don’t think there should be too much fiddling about with it. It was like first two shots out of the box, and it was like, yeah, I think I’ve got one here. So it’s nice to sort of see that feeling translate into the same thing on the golf course.”

“Where does this rank in terms of shots you’ve hit to 3 feet, 9 inches in your career?” a reporter followed with, tongue-in-cheek.

McIlroy laughed. 

“I was 1-up and there’s certainly a lot of other ways to make birdie on that hole without having to do that. But, yeah, it was a great swing and it was a great time to do it.”

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Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at Golf.com and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at nick.piastowski@golf.com.

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