Golf: Rory McIlroy is almost unstoppable when he is at the top of his game

Peter Cowen/Fairway Views
Filed on May 11, 2021
Rory McIlroy with Peter Cowen at last week's PGA Tour event. (Supplied photo)

At the Wells Fargo last week at Quail Hollow, it seemed the stars were aligned for Rory

I first connected with Rory McIlroy in 2003 when I was the Irish national coach. Rory was just 13 and there was Shane Lowry too. It was obvious then that Rory had some serious talent, but so many do at that age.

I have always kept an unofficial watchful eye on Rory’s game as he has gone from amateur to pro in the pyramid of world golf and ultimately to world number one ranking, and his life development.

Frequently, I have spoken over the years to his lifelong coach Michael Bannon, but Michael does not travel a lot around the world following Rory.

We have very similar beliefs about the game, which has always been refreshing.

Rory and his team approached me less than a couple of months ago about being part of Team Rory, and then he immediately missed the cut at the Masters.

After the Masters, I came home to Rotherham and returned to Florida to specifically see Rory on April 29.

We had three days of intensive practice together over a long weekend alone, just the two of us: one day at Michael Jordan’s The Grove XXIII and two days at Jack Nicklaus’ Bear’s Club at West Palm Beach.

All a bit different from my UK headquarters at the Peter Cowen Academy at my Rotherham Driving Range.

We worked on a little technical stuff with the swing, but essentially I found Rory’s basics were not far off.

It is interesting to read and hear about Rory’s observations about Bryson DeChambeau’s 2020 US Open length and strength approach.

Rory admits this had his attention.

Looking back on last week, one thing that I did do with Rory was give him a putting lesson.

Putting lessons are not normally in my remit as a coach, but a coach these days has to be everything to all his players as and when required. Rory had a great week of putting.

I always thought it was a long term project with Rory!

And at the Wells Fargo last week at Quail Hollow, it seemed the stars were aligned for Rory.

Remember he is a two-time champion at Quail Hollow.

The golf fans were also back in force.

At his glorious best, Rory is a ‘go with the flow’ emotional player, he rides the waves. He is a player that is almost unstoppable when he is at the top of his game and the crowds are behind him.

Just like I remember him as a 13 year old at Carton House, Ireland, with the Irish Team.

Rory has missed the crowds over the last 15 months or so.

With golf, just like in all top-level sports, the margins of success and failure are so small.

Rory thought the quieter surroundings at events may suit him, but sadly, the opposite was the case.

It is a now a ‘week off’ for Rory and then to Kiawah Island for the US PGA Championship, the second Major of the year.

We will be at West Palm Beach this week along with Rory’s caddie Harry Diamond, and Gary Woodland.

And my other players Graeme McDowell, Victor Perez, Henrik Stenson and DP World Ambassador, Ian Poulter, will also be here with us in Florida.

This week’s PGA Tour event, the AT&T Byron Nelson, in Dallas, Texas, will see my players Thomas Pieters, Padraig Harrington, Brooks Koepka. And my buddy, Mike Walker, is also there looking after Matt Fitzpatrick.

Also, I am looking forward to coming to Dubai for an overdue holiday as soon as the government authorities allow.

Missing you all in Dubai.

(Peter Cowen is one of the world’s leading golf coaches)



May 13–16

AT&T Byron Nelson

Venue: TPC Craig Ranch, McKinney, Texas, US

Purse: $8.1 million


May 12–15

BETFRED British Masters hosted by Danny Willett

Venue: The Belfry, Sutton Coldfield, England

Purse: £1.85 million

European Tour Golf on TV

(Dubai Sports Channel, UAE Time)

Wednesday 1530–2200

Thursday 1530–2200

Friday 1530–2130

Saturday 1430–2030


May 14–16

Mitsubishi Electric Classic

Venue: Southern Hills Country Club, Tulsa, OK, US

Purse: $1.8 million


May 13–16

Investec South African Women’s Open

Venue: Westlake Golf Club, Cape Town, South Africa

Purse: €200k

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