PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Defending PLAYERS champion Rory McIlroy has sensationally admitted that a stint chasing after Bryson DeChambeau swing speeds contributed to his failure to make the cut at TPC Sawgrass.
Rounds of 79-75 left the two-time FedExCup champion a distant 10 shots off making the weekend – a big surprise – but yet not near as surprising as his reasoning.
When asked about the most frustrating aspects of his title defense, McIlroy paused for some time before speaking his mind.
“Probably the swing issues and where it all stems from, probably like October last year, doing a little bit of speed training, started getting sucked into that stuff, swing got flat, long, and too rotational,” McIlroy stated. “Obviously I added some speed and am hitting the ball longer, but what that did to my swing as a whole probably wasn’t a good thing, so I’m sort of fighting to get back out of that. That’s what I’m frustrated with.”
McIlroy was already one of the longest players on the PGA TOUR, but after seeing a bulked up DeChambeau dominate at the U.S. Open, the Northern Irishman used his brief off-season to try to keep up.
“After Winged Foot I had a few weeks before we went to the West Coast and I started to try to hit the ball a bit harder, hit a lot of drivers, get a bit more speed, and I felt like that was sort of the infancy of where these swing problems have come from. So it’s just a matter of trying to get back out of it,” McIlroy added.
“I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t anything to do with what Bryson did at the U.S. Open. I think a lot of people saw that and were like, whoa, if this is the way they’re going to set golf courses up in the future, it helps. It really helps.”
McIlroy knows the readjustment will take a concerted effort – but first he was looking forward to the small silver lining of getting a weekend rest after playing four straight tournaments.
“It’ll take a bit of time. Like with anything, the slightest change in your swing is going to feel uncomfortable for a while. It’s not like it’s that far away,” he said. “I’m looking forward to a break. It’s funny, I used to think four weeks in a row was nothing, and then I feel like I’m getting old because by the fourth week I’m like, a little achy, a couple things are hurting, so I’m looking forward to getting home.”
McIlroy wasn’t the only star player who will miss the cut. Xander Schauffele ended his TOUR-best streak of consecutive made cuts at 23, dating to the 2020 Farmers Insurance Open while Viktor Hovland, who was ranked second with 22, missed his first since the 2020 Honda Classic.
Former PLAYERS champions Rickie Fowler, Henrik Stenson, Matt Kuchar and Webb Simpson are also out of the running for another title while Tommy Fleetwood, Tony Finau and Patrick Cantlay won’t be claiming a first.