Expert analysts admire two things about McIlroy’s swing, how cleanly and purely he strikes the ball on a consistent basis, and how smooth and unvarying his timing is. His distance and his accuracy are just the natural results of how correctly he starts, with the way he grasps the club and stands over the ball. There is no extreme club-head speed or range of motion, just a fluid follow-through, until the club rests almost on the nape of his neck. “His setup and grip are textbook and his tempo is sort of one speed, back and through, one-two,” Miller says. “Even though there is acceleration, it’s from gravity, and then you look at his beautiful release, and you’d like Michaelangelo to sculpt it in marble.”
The Golf Channel’s Chamblee notices something else about McIlroy’s swing: how relaxed his hands seem on the club and how stress-free his movements seem. “He puts his hands on the club in a perfect manner with very little tension, sets up in a good spot with an athletic posture, and he literally makes the swing as simple as anyone in the history of the game has made it,” Chamblee says. “It’s a simple, athletic-related move, and as pretty a move as you’ll see.”
Explore the changes made at Congressional Country Club for the 2011 U.S. Open.
Rory McIlroy shot a five-under-par 66 in his second round Friday to head into the weekend at 11-under 131, setting the record for the best 36-hole score in the 111-year history of the U.S. Open. (June 17)
The result is one of the longest hitters in the world — though he is just 5 feet 9 and 161 pounds — yet also one of the most accurate, a golfer who manages to be strong and pretty and technically sound, all at the same time. The statistics tell the story: He went 35 straight holes in the first two rounds of the Open without so much as a bogey and he hit 32 of 36 greens. His playing partners, Phil Mickelson, who called McIlroy’s play “flawless,” and Dustin Johnson, have pretty good swings of their own, but they seemed to thrash and struggle by comparison.
But McIlroy possesses more than just an easy swing. He also has huge ambition. There is no more convincing statistic than the fact that he has now led in the last four majors. The signs and the numbers suggest that he may be no more than 48 hours from becoming the game’s next great player. Should he make his breakthrough and win his first, there may be a lot more to follow.
“He could be the next Woods, let’s put it that way,” says Miller. “Some guys win by accident, okay? They hang around and everyone chokes. This guy has the ability to separate himself from the field and just beat the pants off people, and that’s a rare, rare talent that not many players have, and he has it. Other guys they just hang in there and contend, and then say, ‘Oh wow, I won one.’ This guy is like, ‘Move over folks. I’m coming through.’ ”