Rory McIlroy’s march to victory at Hoylake was impressive for the overall quality of his performance.
We take a look at the five keys that transformed Rory McIlroy into an Open Champion and delve through the GM archives for an insight into the 2014 Claret Jug winner’s game.
1 Overall Driving
For those who stand by the mantra, ‘drive for show, putt for dough’ take a look at the top of the world rankings.
The two highest ranked players, Adam Scott and Rory McIlroy, are also the two best drivers in the game.
On the first hole of his final round, Rory McIlroy had the confidence to pull his Nike Covert 2.0 driver and take the bunkers out of play.
As others hit irons to lay up short, the 25 year-old split the fairway, smashing his drive 296-yards into the wind. An opening birdie was the result – it was a powerful statement to the rest of the field.
McIlroy averaged 328-yards off the tee at Hoylake, 45 yards longer than the average. And it was this combination of power and accuracy that was largely responsible for the six shot lead he took into the final round. His eagles on 16 and 18 on Saturday placed him firmly in the driving seat.
Rory has been criticised in the past for his course management, throwing shots away unnecessarily as other players carefully plot their way to success.
But confidence is the key for McIlroy and his aggression from the tee set up birdie chances that past the rest by.
That the Northern Irishman has the guts to go for it while others are avoiding disaster offers a window into the positive mindset that was at the heart of his Hoylake success.
This was an exhibition of selective aggression because McIlroy knew that to win at Hoylake he’d need to make plenty of birdies.
3 Pitching and chipping
Rory McIlory has one of the most accomplished pitching and chipping game’s in world golf. Missing the 17th green in the final round, he knew an up and down would give him a crucial cushion to survive a potentially dangerous final hole.
The touch he showed under the most intense Major Championship pressure was incredible.
The key to McIlroy’s short game mastery is the freedom with which he plays. Without having to think about the mechanics of the swing, McIlroy is free to focus 100% on his target and distance control.
The smooth rhythm of both his chipping and pitching strokes lies at the heart of his success here. With a soft grip pressure and unhurried tempo his judgement of distance never let him down.
4 Hoylake Preparation
After his desperate performance at Muirfield in 2013 that yielded a missed cut and much embarrassment, many questioned whether McIlroy would ever have what it takes to win the Open Championship on a windswept links.
Fast-forward 12 months, the outlook couldn’t be more different. So what changed?
Well in the build-up to this one, McIlory visited Hoylake two weeks before the Championship. He then remained in the UK, competing in the Scottish Open at Royal Aberdeen the week before.
This tactic clearly gave the Northern Irishman a better overall feel for the unique challenge of links golf. From his ability to control his ball flight to his touch into and around the greens, he was primed and ready for a far more successful assault on the Claret Jug. Expect nothing to change for his 2015 campaign!
Trying to find a weakness in Rory McIlroy’s game is not easy but if you had to pinpoint something it would probably be his putting.
The Northern Irishman is a streaky putter – when its on, he’s capable of holing out from anywhere but when he’s off, it seems to undermine the confidence in the rest of his game.
At Hoylake, we saw a much more steady, clinical putting performance.
He had the pace of the greens throughout the week and in those dying moments on Saturday afternoon when his lead went from a nose to a length, it was his putting that transformed his immense ball-striking into a cushion that was almost unassailable.
Like his chipping and pitching technique, there is a freedom about McIlroy on the greens. Nothing complicated, nothing uncomfortable – he let the putter flow and the results spoke for themselves.