Rory McIlroy. Tom Pennington
There are drives, then there are Rory McIlroy drives.
The world No. 3 was 1 up against Denny McCarthy late on Thursday standing on the 18th tee box at the WGC-Dell Match Play. They were the last match on the course, the other 31 were already complete.
Hitting first on the 375-yard, par-4 home hole, McIlroy unleashed a massive blow, carried the ball 349 yards, his ball bounced on to the front of the green, rolled and came to rest within four feet of the cup. (Three feet, nine inches to be exact.) McCarthy was 60 yards short of the green off the tee, chipped to seven feet and conceded the putt and the match to McIlroy. So no, he didn’t even have to make the eagle attempt, and won 2 up.
Just watch here in amazement.
One of the greatest drives you will EVER see 🤯@McIlroyRory drives the ball to 3 FEET at the 375-yard par-4 18th with a 349-yard carry to the green! pic.twitter.com/HzhMBtyKkr
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 23, 2023
“It was good,” McIlroy said. “I didn’t think that I could get it on the green.”
McIlroy admitted afterward that he didn’t even know the ball was on the green. It wasn’t until TV reporter Smylie Kaufman alerted him that he realised what had happened. Kaufman, however, did not tell McIlroy how close the ball was to the pin. He didn’t want to spoil the surprise.
McIlroy is now 2-0 in his group and will face Keegan Bradley on Friday with a chance to move to the Round of 16. He only needs to tie Bradley to advance.
Earlier in the week McIlroy made headlines for making a minor change to his driver set-up, coming only two weeks before the Masters, where he’s looking for the final piece of a career Grand Slam. He changed the shaft in his TaylorMade Stealth 2 Plus driver and shortened it from 44.5 inches to 44 inches, saying that it gives him less of a chance to hit a two-way miss off the tee.
Seems like a good move.