Dublin, OH– Rory McIlroy posted a 1-under par 71 in his first round of the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide, but that was not the story of his day.
Rather, the big news from McIlroy was the return to the conventional putting grip.
On paper, the timing of this move seems peculiar since he won in his most recent start at the Irish Open, but there was something to it.
“I had 127 putts the week that I won the Irish Open,” McIlroy said. “So it’s not as if I putted particularly well that week. I won that golf tournament with my ball striking alone. I thought about it for a while, and I was messing around on the putting green over the weekend. Just went back to the grip and really trying to focus on the basics like setup and eye position and ball position and stuff like that, alignment. So I feel like, if I can put good structures like that in place, there’s no reason for me to go with anything but with what I’ve sort of had before.”
The move did not pay immediate dividends as McIlroy needed 29 putts in his first round.
When it came to practicing the conventional putting grip, muscle memory did not kick in immediately. Rather, it took a good 30 minutes before his comfort level began to grow.
From there, McIlroy worked on it through the weekend so he could feel comfortable putting it in play this week.
With the U.S. Open a couple of weeks away, McIlroy found this to be his best move in order to contend.
“I feel like my pace was a little off left hand low, and I feel like coming into golf courses like here where the greens are really quick, and obviously Oakmont where the greens were ridiculously fast, I felt like, to give myself the best chance of having a little bit more feel and a little bit more visualization and stuff, I just needed go back to what I’ve done for most of my career,” said McIlroy.