By E. Michael Johnson
By Jared C. Tilton
Rory McIlroy ended the second-longest victory drought of his career staying ahead of a slew of challengers to win the Wells Fargo Championship for his 19th PGA Tour title. McIlroy produced a four-birdie, no-bogey 67 that included a number of clutch shots.
McIlroy hit an 8-iron from 169 yards on the fourth to within seven feet for his first birdie and rolled in a 24-footer for birdie on the par-5 seventh.
On the back nine, the 13th might have proved pivotal as he left his first putt from nearly 69 feet more than 11 feet from the hole but made the second attempt for a crucial par save. On the short par-4 14th, a nifty bunker shot to five feet led to another putt going down to put him in the lead for good. Another stellar bunker shot on the par-5 15th led to a second-consecutive birdie and provided some cushion that he would need after a wayward tee shot on 18.
Over his last 55 holes McIlroy had just one hiccup other than his adventure on the final hole—a double bogey on the 12th in the third round—while producing 15 birdies over that span. In order to maintain that kind of consistency, all aspects of the game need to be working and when McIlroy kicks it into that gear, few are better. He ranked second in driving distance at 324.4 yards with his 9-degree TaylorMade SIM2 driver with a Fujikura Ventus Black 6X shaft and was 10th in strokes gained/approach-the-green and T-3 in greens in regulation after returning to the TaylorMade “Rors” prototype muscle-back blade irons that he used when he first joined TaylorMade in 2017.
But it was around and on the green where McIlroy—who habitually has his struggles in those areas—came up big. The timely bunker shots and putts were not merely clutch one-offs at Quail Hollow Club, but rather were pretty much the norm for the week. The four-time major champion was second in scrambling at 82.35 percent with his TaylorMade Milled Grind 2 TW wedges that feature a sole grind designed for Tiger Woods.
McIlroy’s 60-degree is half-degree flat from standard and features a lower bounce with 8 degrees. On the greens McIlroy was third in strokes gained/putting, picking up more than seven shots on the field with his TaylorMade Spider X Hydro Blast mallet.
When you put it all together like that, a winless drought is a little easier to end.
What Rory McIlroy had in the bag at the Wells Fargo Championship
Ball: TaylorMade TP5x
Driver: TaylorMade SIM2 (Fujikura Ventus Black 6X), 9 degrees
3-wood: TaylorMade SIM, 15 degrees
5-wood: TaylorMade SIM, 19 degrees
Irons (3-9): TaylorMade Rors prototype; (PW): TaylorMade Milled Grind
Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind 2 TW (56, 60 degrees)
Putter: TaylorMade Spider X Hydro Blast