ORLANDO — Through two rounds of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Rory McIlroy has gained almost six shots on the field with his putter, which has long been the most maligned club in his bag. There may be good reason for the dramatic improvement.
The Forecaddie hears that McIlroy met earlier this week with Brad Faxon, one of the most accomplished putters in PGA Tour history. Faxon is known to have worked with several Tour pros on their putting. The two met for several hours on Monday afternoon at the Bear’s Club in Jupiter, Fla.
The Man Out Front is unclear what the relationship with Faxon means for Phil Kenyon, who has worked with McIlroy on his putting since August of 2016. Both McIlroy’s camp and Faxon declined to comment.
One immediate change McIlroy made this week after seeing Faxon was in the length of his putter. He is back to using a 34.25-inch model, the same as he used in winning his four majors. Kenyon had McIlroy using a 33-inch putter.
The former World No. 1’s putting has been heavily scrutinized as his results faltered. He missed cuts at Pebble Beach and at last week’s Valspar Championship, was T-59 at the Honda Classic and a season-best T-20 at the Genesis Open. He ranked 140th in strokes gained putting last year on Tour and is 124th this season through the Valspar.
After two rounds at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, McIlroy ranks first in strokes gained putting. He needed just 24 putts in Thursday’s first round 69 and 27 putts in Friday’s 70. At 5-under par he is six strokes off the lead heading into the weekend.
Faxon, an eight-time winner on Tour, is celebrated for his putting stroke. He lives close to McIlroy in Florida. Faxon, who is also a Fox Sports golf analyst, worked with Gary Woodland before he won the Waste Management Phoenix Open earlier this year.