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Rory McIlroy out to get a grip on things with his putting style

By Brian Keogh and Liam Kelly

Rory McIlroy might be ambivalent about the entire colourful spectrum of US Presidential candidates but when it comes to his putting the World No.3 has to take an iron grip on affairs.

Relieved that as a UK citizen he doesn't have to vote for the likes of Donald Trump, his host at this week's WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral's Blue Monster, the only dilemma between right and left facing the Holywood star is the position of his hands on the putter.

For the vast majority of the 211 events he has played since turned professional more than eight-and-a-half years ago, Ulsterman McIlroy has putted with his right hand below his left.

This week, the change triggered by a series of pulled putts en route to a missed cut in last week's Honda Classic, the 26-year-old has decided to follow the likes of World No.1 Jordan Spieth, Padraig Harrington and Shane Lowry and putt with his left hand below his right.

It might smack of desperation with Augusta's slick greens just a month away but when Masters champion Spieth is taking 10 fewer strokes on the greens per tournament and is ranked second strokes gained putting to McIlroy's 189th, the move to the cack-handed style is understandable.

"I'm going to give it a try this week and see where we go with it," said McIlroy, who is second favourite for the green jacket behind Spieth. "But it felt really, really good. The roll of the ball is really good.

"The contact is much better, and it really just takes my right hand out of it. Everything that I have done in my putting the last few years is all to try and lead with the left hand and really just have the right on there as more of a guide.

"But I felt like my right hand was becoming too active in the stroke. So this is a perfect way to deactivate that, and I really just feel like I'm controlling the putting stroke with my left hand only."

McIlroy said he experimented with the left-below-right style briefly in 2008, shortly after he turned professional.

But while he has since won 19 professional tournaments, including four Majors, with a conventional grip, he's determined to stick with the new method for more than one day or even one event.

"I feel like it's something I'm going to stick with regardless of what the outcome is this week," he said.

"I really do feel like it helps me put the stroke on it that I want to."

LEONA Maguire, the World No.1 women's amateur golfer, has received an invitation to play on the LPGA Tour in the Ana Invitational tournament from March 28-April 3.

Maguire, 21, will join the top Tour players and five other amateurs at the event played on the Dinah Shore Tournament Course in Rancho Mirage, California.

Currently, the Cavan-born golfer is preparing for the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate at Hilton Head, South Carolina which starts tomorrow.

Maguire's Duke University team is expected to be one of the contenders for the team title.

The opportunity to compete in the Ana Invitational is another welcome opportunity for Maguire to test the waters in the professional game.

Belfast Telegraph


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