It’s been just over a week since it was announced that I would be working with Rory and I’ve now experienced first hand the media expectations that are heaped on the lad. We’ve not sat down properly to go through things and already people believe he is now going to win the Masters. The world has gone mad. He needs space to work and not feel the pressures piled on him by social media. Though social media is all part of being a modern day super star, it’s all about balance.
Michael Bannon will always be Rory’s coach, well, he should be because he’s worked with Rory since he was seven or eight years old. In the past I’ve talked to Michael quite often about the golf swing and about Rory’s golf swing, and we have very similar views. I’d like Michael to still be involved because he’s known the swing for so long, and they’ve only had a barren period in the Majors since 2014, it’s not been a barren period in wins.
We’re not going to reinvent the wheel, I’ve spoke to Michael about Rory and his wedges, and controlling his ball flight, and he’s in total agreement. Sometimes it’s another person saying the same thing that can get the job done, and that’s what I’d like to feel that we can do. But sometimes the press don’t allow you to do your job. After two days of seeing Rory they suddenly think I’m a miracle worker and he’s going to win at Augusta. Well, he hasn’t won a Major in six years so the chances of him winning The Masters are obviously slim.
A talent like Rory’s, it will just take a little bit of time and some application. So it’s work in progress.
One player that has found that winning formula is Bryson. The US Open was massive for him, but in that rough – it’s as if the USGA set it up, in some respect, for him, really. That week he hit as many fairways as the average, but normally if you hit it as far as he does you’re not hitting many fairways. Also when he did miss a fairway – it was better to be 360 yards off the tee and in the rough than 260/270 off the tee and in the rough. And with his clubs, because they’re all 6-iron length, his wedges are longer than normal and they’re more upright and he was able to dig into the back of the ball through the thick rough. So hacking out of the rough to the front of the green was quite easy for him, relative to the rest of the players. So it was almost made for him – but he had to do it, and he did it, in style. On the 11th fairway everyone was taking 4-iron off the tee and he thought ‘well, it’s a driver for me’ – and it’s never a driver, it shouldn’t be a driver for anyone.
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The win at Bay Hill was quite impressive, especially on that 6th hole because he took it on, over the water. It would have been quite easy to miss that – and he would have only had to miss it a little bit for it to be a reload off the tee. I think he gained two shots on the field just with those four drives, and he won the tournament by a shot, so he really won by hitting those drives.
One of the most impressing things about Bryson is his downswing. It is the most impressive thing about his game, it’s fantastic. It looks a bit ungainly on the back-swing but he’s really just loading up all the power. When you look at the downswing movement and impact through the ball – to have the strength in his body to be able to get to the positions that he does, to then deliver the club into the ball correctly, is really, really impressive.
I did chat to him recently and he said that unfortunately when he goes higher than 185mph and gets up to 200mph ball speed – the face deflection on the driver becomes too great, and it’s only got to be slightly off for him to hit it miles offline. But the new ball he’s playing doesn’t spin as much as the older one, so it doesn’t go quite as far offline for him. So it’s interesting that he’s found out that at about 185pmh is almost the maximum.
Then you look at how he played at TPC Sawgrass, again in the final group in contention to win, he was probably at about 185mph ball speed there because he managed his game really well, and almost won again. He is like Vijay Singh with his work ethic, in that he’ll stand out there all day. When you watch him after he’s played a round, he’ll be on the range for a full afternoon. Thursday afternoon at Sawgrass after he’d played in the morning, he was there, and he must have hit 150 drivers, flat out. That’s impressive!
Short game wise, with his wedges being as long as they are he’s a surprisingly good bunker player. You adapt – and he’s very good at adapting. n