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Rory Mcilroy tipped for more heroics after easing his putting misery

Guru Kenyon can guide Ulster star to great things, says coach Foster

By Paul Kelly

Rory McIlroy reminded everyone why he remains the most exciting golfer in the world by coming from six shots behind to win the Deutsche Bank Championship on Monday.

The 27-year-old turned his 2016 PGA Tour season around in spectacular fashion with a superb performance in Boston that owed everything to some new-found confidence on the greens.

By his own admission, the Ulsterman's putting has been poor all summer. He tried a change of grip but that didn't produce the results he hoped for and then finally, after a 'pathetic' display at the US PGA Championship, he sought out a new coach in Phil Kenyon.

Kenyon has worked with the likes of Henrik Stenson and Louis Oosthuizen and now McIlroy appears to have turned things around having made a slight adjustment to his grip after round one in Boston.

"I felt on Friday there were a few putts that I missed right, and I felt like my right hand was a little too much on the side of the grip instead of on top of it, so I felt like the clubface was opening just a little bit on my putts and I missed a few right," said McIlroy, who insisted his putting is still very much a work in progress.

"So the little tweak was that I just sort of placed my right hand just a little bit more on top of the grip instead of to the side, helping keep the face square through impact and starting the ball online and it's helped. It's a very simple fix."

Simple it may have been but the Holywood golfer began the tournament ranked 130th in strokes gained putting and 165th in total putting. He finished the week seventh in strokes gained putting and first in putting average.

Which begs a number of questions. How did Rory manage to turn things around so quickly? Is Kenyon some sort of magician and is it simply to do with the fact that Rory switched from using a Nike putter to a Scotty Cameron model?

Greenacres-based coach Johnny Foster said: "Well firstly I'm not overly surprised to see him win because after all, he is Rory McIlroy. When you put Rory's natural ability with the fact that he has putted well in the past and then add Phil's new guidance, that sort of display isn't beyond him."

A member of the Irish Ladies Golfing Union (ILGU) High Performance team, Foster spent some time with Kenyon in the past and has great admiration for the 42-year-old Englishman.

"I met Phil for the first time about seven years ago. Michael Hoey was good enough to let me come over and spend some time watching them work together," added Foster.

"He's a really good guy, intelligent, a very effective coach and now has a stable of world class players.

"He was always ahead of his time, a modern coach who embraced and utilised technology. He almost takes an MRI of what the student is doing on the greens and then builds specific practice drills to address the issues that have been highlighted."

Nor should the change of putter be overlooked as an important element in Rory's improvement on the greens, according to another of the ILGU's High Performance coaches, Donal Scott.

A putting specialist, Scott believes that while a change of equipment can make a difference psychologically it can also have some practical benefits.

"It varies from player to player but with some people a new putter can significantly change aim," said Scott, who is currently coaching Challenge Tour players Chris Selfridge and Gary Hurley.

"How the player looks down at the putter, the dimensions of it and the head style can have a pretty big impact.

"I don't know what Phil and Rory are working on specifically, but I'm sure that having a better understanding of why certain putts react the way they do has given Rory some confidence and that has translated into the performance you saw at the weekend."

Belfast Telegraph

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