It’s been something of a lost year for Rory McIlroy, who has been the quietest of what was golf’s Big Three before Dustin Johnson and Henrik Stenson thrust themselves into the picture. McIlroy’s slipped to fifth in the world golf rankings in 2016, and has zero major or PGA Tour wins over the course of the season, though he did win the Irish Open on the European Tour. There are still some major events on the horizon – the $10 million FedEx Cup finale and the Ryder Cup – and McIlroy might be rounding into form at just the right time.
McIlroy is still one of the best drivers and ball strikers in the field, but his putting has been abysmal all year long. McIlroy’s ranked 130th on the PGA Tour in strokes gained putting (a full 1.3 strokes per round on average behind Jason Day), 165th in total putting, and 74th in one-putt percentage. He’s changed putters and grips, but nothing’s worked for him yet.
Ahead of the Deutsche Bank Championship, McIlroy made some even bigger changes. He changed his putter last week, and began working with putting coach Phil Kenyon after years with Dave Stockton – and Rory’s seeing some immediate results. Through three rounds he’s ranked ninth in the field in strokes gained putting, and his 17 birdies over three rounds ranks second.
McIlroy capped his third round Sunday with a near-double eagle. He launched an iron into the 18th green from 2010 yards and caught the lip of the cup, then drilled the birdie putt to move to 9-under for the tournament.