By E. Michael Johnson
Entering the week, the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte had provided good vibes for Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler, both past champions at Quail Hollow. Of course, Rory's third Wells Fargo title took those good vibes to yet another level—and he returned to the winner’s circle with an iron model he first put in the bag four years ago. Rickie Fowler also went back in time, putting the driver model he last won with back in the bag.
Rory returns to his “Rors” prototype irons
Rory McIlroy had some familiar sticks in the bag at the Wells Fargo Championship, going back to the set of “Rors” prototype muscle-back blades he first used in 2017 upon signing with TaylorMade.
The irons are based off what is now the P730 model, and McIlroy was instrumental in fellow TaylorMade staffer Dustin Johnson eventually switching to similar irons.
“I was hitting balls with DJ and he said, ‘Let me see those irons,’ and he was on the phone right away asking for a set,” McIlory told Golf Digest in 2017. “They’re a beautiful set. I’ve traditionally been a muscle-back blade guy my whole career. I like the shorter blade length, thinner topline and less offset.”
After a Friday 66 at Quail Hollow, McIlroy said, “The one thing that I was really happy about coming in here this week was my iron play. [I] felt like I really found something last week.”
McIlroy ranked 10th in strokes gained/approach-the-green and third in greens in regulation while winning the Wells Fargo—before entering the week 74th in SG/approach—so McIlroy’s assessment clearly was spot on.
Fowler tries to recapture magic off the tee
Although his game off the tee is hardly the reason for his struggles (he currently ranks a respectable 59th in strokes gained/off the tee), Rickie Fowler made a driver change at the Wells Fargo Championship, going back to the driver model he last won with in 2019 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
That driver would be Cobra’s King Cobra F9 Speedback at 9 degrees loft. Of note are the two adjustable sole weights, a 2-gram weight and a 14-gram weight that can be placed in two ports on the rear of the sole and up closer to the face on the sole to help produce the desired ball flight. When Fowler won in 2019 the heavy weight was up front to produce lower spin and a more penetrating ball flight. At the Wells Fargo, however, the heavier weight was in the rear, apparently to promote a higher flight.
Although Fowler missed the cut with rounds of 70-77, he might keep the driver in the bag a bit longer as he posted positive strokes gained/off-the-tee numbers in each round and hit 21 of 28 fairways (75 percent), which would have ranked second for the week if he played all four rounds.