After Rory McIlroy’s dominant performance at Royal Liverpool this past weekend, it’s safe to say that the 25-year-old Irishman has the best A-game of any golfer on tour.
“Yeah, when Rory has it going, he’s probably the best player in the world at the moment,” Butch Harmon – swing coach for Rickie Fowler – said on The Doug Gottlieb Show. “He’s proved that – not just last week, but through the year. It’s an interesting take on Rory when you go back to last year and (look at) some of the problems he’s had and how he’s come through that and how much he’s matured.”
That maturity was on full display last week, as McIlroy finished 17-under 271 to claim his third major.
“I got to tell you: I was over at the Open Championship last week, and he put on a clinic,” Harmon said. “He played beautifully. The course is obviously suited for his high, right-to-left ball flight, and he did it magnificently. He was a joy to watch. He drives the ball so far and so good, and then when he gets his short game going, he’s pretty hard to beat at the moment.”
Many wonder if McIlroy’s breakup with Caroline Wozniacki has something to do with his improved play.
“I think he’s more comfortable in his own skin at the moment,” Harmon said. “The breakup with Wozniacki, that’s two individuals going in a separate direction. I think that took a lot of weight off his shoulders. I think the fact that he feels more comfortable with his Nike equipment that he switched to a year-and-a-half or so ago (is also part of this).”
“Most importantly, I think when he plays on these type of golf courses, he feels a little more at home having grown up in Northern Ireland.”
Harmon also praised McIlroy’s swing coach, Michael Bannon.
“(He) has done a wonderful job with getting (McIlroy’s) swing back to looking like (it used to) and being very repetitive,” Harmon said. “Right now, he’s swinging absolutely beautifully, and you can see how much confidence he plays with and how hard he goes at that driver and how good he drives it.”
Harmon, of course, also praised his own 25-year-old golfer. Fowler has three top-five finishes at majors this season, including runner-up finishes in the U.S. Open and the Open Championship.
Is Fowler’s success sustainable?
“Oh, absolutely,” Harmon said. “It’s been building all year. Earlier in the year, he was missing cuts and people were saying, ‘Gosh, his swing looks better, but he’s not playing any good.’ And he wasn’t discouraged with that. He knew he was working on the right things. He knew he was playing better. He just had to feel comfortable in a tournament situation, and he’s done that.”
Fowler, in fact, was the only player at the Open Championship to shoot in the 60s in all four rounds.
“He’s just progressed beautifully with the changes that we’ve made,” Harmon said. “The thing you got to love about Rickie Fowler – when he came to me at the end of last year, he said, ‘I want to be known more for my golf than I am for my hats and my clothes.’ And I like that about him. He wanted to get better. He knew he had to change to get better. The young man is not only a wonderful young man; he works his tail off, too. It’s just a matter of time before he starts winning numerous tournaments.”