Rory McIlroy’s late acceptance of an invite to the British Masters after missing out on the Tour Championship was great news both for the event and for British golf fans.
His appearance at Close House has created an added buzz and will undoubtedly pull a few more spectators through the turnstiles, all hoping to see Rory turn around what has been a pretty modest season by his own very high standards despite top-seven finishes in two of the Majors.
One thing he is clearly working hard on is his putting practice, and in particular those putts from around the eight- to nine-feet mark. Arriving on the putting green around lunchtime on Tuesday, Rory spent around 90 minutes working hard on putts from that range, as you will see in the accompanying video.
I overheard him say he was experimenting with a new putting grip that was a little different to the classic reverse overlap, and the coach he was working with seemed to really focus in on on Rory’s shoulder movement several times.
Looking at his putting stats in Europe, there is an interesting discrepancy between putts per round and putts per GIR, which might perhaps explain this particular focus. While he ranks a respectable 33rd for putts per round at 28.96 (nearly half a stroke better than last year and his best since 2010), he’s down in 97th for putts per GIR at 1.778 (his worst since 2010).
I’ve tried to work out what this might mean, and guess it could be that he’s just not converting enough of the good chances he’s creating when he does hit it in pretty close.
Indeed, the more in-depth PGA Tour putting stats show that that it is at the 8ft mark that his close-range putting first dips down to 50%, with Rory then ranking 135th for nine-footers at 41.38%.
Maybe this morning’s intensive practice session will see him turn around his fortunes from that range this week at Close House?