| 6.2°C Belfast

Why Rory McIlroy made last minute driver change ahead of impressive Farmers Insurance Open first round

 

Close

Rory McIlroy is using TaylorMade's new SiM driver this season.

Rory McIlroy is using TaylorMade's new SiM driver this season.

AP

Rory McIlroy is using TaylorMade's new SiM driver this season.

Rory McIlroy has revealed that a last minute driver change helped fire him to a five under par 67 in his first competitive round of 2020.

The Holywood golfer knows he will leapfrog Brooks Koepka to go number one in the world if he can win the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines.

He's in contention after the opening round, just one behind leaders Sebastien Cappelen and Keegan Bradley.

It was a typically impressive driving display from McIlroy, who hit 11 of 14 fairways with an average of over 309 yards.

The 30-year-old is this year using TaylorMade's new SiM driver but made the unconventional switch to a 10.5 degree head after Wednesday's Pro Am.

With a two degree sleeve included, it actually plays at 8.5 degrees but, as McIlroy confirmed in a self-confessed 'golf geeky' style, the new set-up combines for an all-important comfortable feel.

"That driver went in my bag at about 4pm yesterday afternoon," he said after his round on Thursday.

"I didn't drive the ball particularly well in the Pro Am yesterday, so I worked with the TaylorMade guys on the range and we figured a couple things out.

"It's funny, you know, you go through that testing process at the start of the year with new equipment. There's things that seem really good on the range, but once you actually play some rounds with them competitively and try to hit certain shots, things sort of I guess appear.

"The face just looked a little bit left to me so the (new set-up) opened it up two degrees so the toe is not in, it's more out and it's more how I like to see it. Just visually it gives me a little bit more confidence."

As every golfer knows, it's that mental state that has the biggest say on the success, or otherwise, of a round and McIlroy also indicated that he has found a new technique to ensuring he kicks into his go-zone more often.

"It's not as if I wasn't able to get myself in those places previously, I just didn't know how I was doing it," he explained. "Now I feel like I've put a structure in place and I have a routine with certain mental exercises.

"That's all helped to get me in the right place before I go out and play, which is huge for me. It's not like I didn't have the ability before, but I just feel like I can replicate it a bit more nowadays."

McIlroy admitted he was a 'little rusty' around the greens and felt his speed was a 'little off' with the putter but said he was happy with his first round of the new decade and backed himself to get better as the week progresses.

The world number two tees off at 6.30pm GMT in the Farmers Insurance Open second round on the tougher South Course.

Belfast Telegraph