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Rory McIlroy’s irons finally seem right at Players Championship

Rory McIlroy’s irons finally seem right at Players Championship

During the opening round of the Players Championship, Rory McIlroy engaged in a lengthy discussion with fellow competitors in his threesome, Viktor Hovland and Jordan Spieth, over a drive McIlroy pulled in the water.

After the chat, McIlroy requested a rules official, who explained any video available was inconclusive.

And none of this comes as a complete surprise. McIlroy has had his adventures with water balls on the Florida Swing. His approach at No. 16 at the Cognizant Classic trickled into the water. He removed his right shoe and sock and attempted to hit it out of the water, and it carried about 3 feet and rolled back into the water.

Last week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, McIlroy duck-hooked his second shot into the water on the par-5 6th hole.

Rory tied for 21st in those two events. His start at The Players suggests a much better outcome.

That double bogey on No. 6 at Bay Hill was part of a 76, a round that had McIlroy on high alert entering this week.

Because of it, Rory went back to work Monday.

“Say I had a decent day on Sunday at Bay Hill and shot 70, for sure I would have taken Monday off here,” he said. “But because of not shooting a decent score, I grinded on the range and figured something out and put the time in, and it’s sort of already reaping benefits, so that’s nice.”

That “something” was in his irons, which McIlroy admitted Wednesday were by far his weakness this year.

McIlroy equaled his second-best round in 15 Players starts, his other coming in 2019, the year he was champion. And using that improved iron play — he hit 15 greens in regulation despite those water balls on 18 and 7 — he finished with a 65.

“I have this amazing feeling with my woods at the minute,” McIlroy said. “I feel like I figured out my putting last week and I putted well the last three days at Bay Hill.

“A little bit of work to do with the irons and trying to get those straightened out.”

Thursday suggests he did just that. McIlroy birdied all four par-5s, three of those on the green in 2. He started the day with three birdies, sticking his approach shots on the 10th and 12th holes within 5 feet.

On the famous 17th island green, McIlroy’s tee shot rolled to within 6 feet.

“Just needed to clean up the technique a little bit, needed to clean up some things,” McIlroy said. “Honestly, just needed to put the time in.”

Tom D’Angelo is a senior sports columnist for The Palm Beach Post. He can be reached at…


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