Rory McIlroy, using 3rd putter in 3 days, posts final-round 64 at Travelers

Getty Images

Rory McIlroy, using 3rd putter in 3 days, posts final-round 64 at Travelers

PGA Tour

Rory McIlroy, using 3rd putter in 3 days, posts final-round 64 at Travelers

When Rory McIlroy opened the Travelers Championship in 3-under 67, it seemed like he was finally going to contend again. Two days later, he appeared totally lost.

So it’s only fitting in this week that’s been all over the place for McIlroy that he ended it with fireworks.

The Northern Irishman fired a final-round 6-under 64 at TPC River Highlands, birdieing seven of his first 15 holes and hitting his first 17 greens in regulation. Only a sloppy bogey at the last prevented his scorecard from being flawless.

Even with that closing bogey, McIlroy rocketed up the leaderboard. When he reached the clubhouse, McIlroy had jumped 49 spots on the day to a tie for 11th. Oh, and he did it with a third putter in three days, too.

CROMWELL, CT – JUNE 25: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland putts on the 17th green during the final round of the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands on June 25, 2017 in Cromwell, Connecticut. (Getty Images)

Overall, it was a bit of a confusing 72 holes for McIlroy. The 28-year-old has had a happy 2017 in the personal department, getting married to Erica Stoll in April, but his on-course life has been mixed at best. McIlroy missed nearly two months early in the year to rest a stress fracture in his ribs, an injury he acquired in January.

It lingered, too, as McIlroy had back pain during the Players Championship and subsequently withdrew from the BMW PGA Championship due to a “reaction” to his previous rib injury. He backed out of the Memorial Tournament, too, due to health concerns.

When McIlroy has played in 2017, he has been brilliant at times. He’s posted four top-10 finishes, one of which was a playoff loss in January at the European Tour’s BMW SA Open. But his two most recent starts prior to this week were a T-35 at the Players and a missed cut at the U.S. Open after a month off.

This is not what many had expected of a player who won the FedEx Cup last year after two Playoffs wins. It got even worse in the middle of the Travelers Championship.

McIlroy signed with TaylorMade last month and officially started using one of the equipment company’s putters in competition at the U.S. Open – debuting the TaylorMade Spider Tour putter there.

But it was a short relationship. After a dismal putting performance at Erin Hills and over the first two rounds at TPC River Highlands, McIlroy switched putters again.

The Northern Irishman tried out several flatsticks before moving to a different TaylorMade putter for Round 3. Get full details here.

The change didn’t help, as McIlroy’s poor putting continued in a Saturday 70 (which followed a second-round 73). With McIlroy this lost on the greens, it was fair to wonder whether he was starting on a path to a difficult summer.

But there was finally some light Sunday. McIlroy was stunning from tee to green, but after three days well in the negative in strokes gained: putting, he was actually positive in the final round. He was almost +.8 in strokes gained: putting through 15 holes and finished the round at +.078 (a number that will likely fluctuate as others complete their rounds). Again, that’s after losing an average of 1.188 strokes on the greens to the field the first three days.

McIlroy did it with yet another putter in the bag, as he changed for a second straight day. Jonathan Wall, PGATour.com’s equipment expert, speculated during the round and gave a confirmation post-round on the model of McIlroy’s Sunday flatstick.

So what do we get from this week? McIlroy putted terribly for three days and was not cut from the tournament, and then putted just above average in the final round and shot 64 to post what should be a top 20.

That’s a positive. But three putters in three days usually isn’t a great sign, and McIlroy gave no confirmation that he’ll stay with the flatstick he used Sunday going forward.

“We’ll see. Not so sure,” McIlroy said. “I couldn’t have done any worse than I did the first three days.”

Whatever the case, it’s good to see McIlroy healthy again. And if he stays that way, his summer should provide plenty of intrigue at the very least.

Latest

More Golfweek
Home