SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Rory McIlroy’s debut at the Waste Management Phoenix Open ended on a high note. He poured in nine birdies at TPC Scottsdale on Sunday to shoot 7-under 64 and finish at 13-under 271 for the week.
McIlroy’s week included one blast from the past. He had dinner this week with former U.S. Junior Amateur champion Phillip Francis, who he hadn’t seen in 17 years, and as he finished his round a tournament volunteer showed him a picture of himself competing in the 2001 Pepsi Little Peoples Championship in Springfield, Illinois. He was 11 at the time.
McIlroy said he came to play in the Valley for the Sun, in part, because for about five years, his stats man at TaylorMade has told him TPC Scottsdale was a perfect setup for him.
“It’s sorts of been disappointing,” said McIlroy, who hasn’t won in 15 months. “You know, two very pedestrian rounds. Played a little better on Friday. Then I played better today. I putted better. I really struggled on these greens to read them more than anything else.”
Having never played the course before, McIlroy relied on his Green Book, which helps read the correct breaks with arrows, contours and gradients, for the first three rounds and struggled with the short stick. On Sunday he opted to make a change and improved from 60th in Strokes Gained: Putting in the third round to fourth on Sunday.
“I just sort of went with my eyes and my gut today and it helped,” he said.
Before the round, he hit some putts on the green with a mirror to check his eyes and alignment and drew a line on the ball for aim for the first time in a while during a competitive round.
“The last time I used it regularly was from the 6th hole on the final day at Augusta 2014 until the last day of the Scottish Open 2014. So, sort of April to July,” he recalled. “I won a tournament with it. I won Wentworth during that stretch. I had my best-ever strokes gained putting round at Memorial using the line. It’s something I’ve sort of went back and forth with over the years. Sometimes I feel comfortable with it, sometimes not. I always seem to go back to it when I’m struggling to start it on my line or trust it.”
McIlroy has next week off before he embarks on a stretch of four straight events beginning at the Genesis Invitational. He knows he has work to do on his swing, too, and said he would be using a training aid called the Swing Plane Perfector that he’s used for many years.
“I’m getting way too steep in the downswing, and hitting a lot of pulls and a lot of sort of weak cuts,” he said. “So, I’ll work on that, try to get the club more out in front of me on the way back and try to shallow it a little bit on the way down. And then just a bunch of putting.”
original article link https://golfweek.usatoday.com/2021/02/07/rory-mcilroy-64-sunday-too-little-too-late-waste-management-phoenix-open/