US PGA Championship 2014: Rory McIlroy reveals added muscle is secret to his success

The Northern Irishman led the driving statistics in Akron last week where he won the Bridgestone Invitational with an average wallop of 317 yards

valhalla

Rory McIlroy, who if he believed the hype would only need to turn up here this week to win the US PGA Championship, has revealed that in the past eight weeks alone he has packed on half a stone of muscle that has helped make him the talk of the golfing world.

“I’m definitely hitting it longer over the past couple of years,” he said. “I’ve started to work harder in the gym and got stronger in certain areas of my body, which I needed to. I’ve always had the speed and the power but not the strength or stability to hold on to it my whole way through the swing. I’m the heaviest I’ve ever been. I don’t feel I need to put on any more distance. I can hit it over 300 yards. That gives me plenty of opportunities to hit it close to the flags and try to make birdies. It’s the best I’ve ever driven the ball.”

The stats support his testimony. McIlroy led the driving statistics in Akron last week where he won the Bridgestone Invitational with an average wallop of 317 yards. Plenty of those hits were 330-plus. Any more than that you start to run out of fairway. While the technical side of his game is impressive it is the management of the attendant hoopla that is making the difference.

Evidence of McIlroy’s growing status as the game’s poster boy could be seen today when his media conference was hijacked by the PGA to announce an extended sponsorship deal with a Swiss watch maker.

McIlroy, positioned betwixt the head of PGA and the chief executive of Omega, looked more than comfortable in the seat once occupied by golf’s outgoing USP Tiger Woods. Well, McIlroy is shooting for his fourth major at the age of 25, and his third victory on the spin after adding Bridgestone last Sunday to the Open crown claimed last month.

 

Golf’s powerbrokers cannot get enough of the next big thing, which notionally at least, ups the ante ahead of the final major of the season. Not that you would know it judging by McIlroy’s sanguine demeanour.

Locked into this virtuous cycle of near perfect golf, where every ball he hits does as he bids, and flies a long way with it, McIlroy simply sits back and lets the tributes wash over him. He lets others do the talking while he concentrates on nothing more than the next shot, and how that formula is working.

McIlroy has always had plenty of game. Now he has the mind to manage the expectation, leading some to suggest we are entering the era of Rory. His return to the top of the world rankings this week supports the claims but wisely he stands back from that, or rather, resists the temptation to fan that flame.

“I’ve had a great run of golf and played well over the past few months. I said at the start of the year that golf was looking for someone to put their hand up and sort of become one of the dominant players in the game. I felt like I had the ability to do that, and it’s just nice to be able to win a few tournaments and get back to where I feel like I should be, which is near the top of the world rankings, competing in majors and winning golf tournaments.

“I’m not necessarily sure you can call that an era or the start of an era, but I’m just really happy with where my golf game is at the minute and I just want to try and continue that for as long as possible. People can say what they want to say, that’s fine.  But I can’t read too much into it. I just need to continue to practise hard and play well and try not to read too much of the stuff that’s being written, because if you read everything that was being written, I’d turn up at the first tee on Thursday thinking I’d already won the tournament.”

Rory McIlroy plays out of a bunker during a practice round at Valhalla (EPA) Rory McIlroy plays out of a bunker during a practice round at Valhalla (EPA)
The whispers around Valhalla say he’s a shoo-in, which is reflected by the parsimonious odds of just 5-1 with the bookies in a 156-horse race.

McIlroy is so confident he took the day off earlier in the week rather than familiarise himself with a course he has never played. It’s long, green and in America. That’s all he needs to know. “I don’t know much about the course but from the people that have spoken to me and guys in the locker room it will suit my game pretty well,” McIlroy said.

“I know it’s going to be a long drive course. I feel like I’ve driven the ball very well the last few weeks. If I do that, hopefully I’ll have a good chance.” Ten out of 10 for understatement, Rory.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Suited and booted in the Lanvin show at the Paris menswear collections
fashionParis Fashion Week
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
An asteroid is set to pass so close to Earth it will be visible with binoculars
news
News
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project