Before I really get going here, I would like to say that I am one of Rory Mcilroy’s biggest fans. When he really goes, I don’t believe anyone can go with him, he has that extra gear that can only be put down to some kind of x factor. And so, I write this more out of concern then criticism. (also he is a brilliant human on top of his golfing abilities)
After finishing second in the South African Open, losing to Graeme Storm in a play-off, with what I saw as his B game (maybe even C game) it was released that Rory will be undergoing an MRI on his back that was apparently troubling him throughout the week.
I watched a lot of the South African Open, albeit with the sound down as the European commentators tend to put me to sleep, and even before I heard of Rory’s back trouble I could see changes in his golf swing, things I had seen creep in before that I had hoped would never see again.
The first and most obvious thing I saw was the high right shoulder finish he put on a few drives during the week, never before had I seen arguably the best driver of the ball in the game finish like this. And secondly, I noticed on some rather short clubs there to be a bit of extra shifting around of the lower body, moving ever so slightly off the ball in his take away, wouldn’t kill the average golfer but Rory is anything but average.
This high right shoulder finish I see as a result of some shifting or lack of hip turn going back. Rory’s golf swing requires a very rotational lower half to support his release and anything less could see him get ‘stuck’ on the way down, a high right shoulder is often a product of this. And this is definitely no good for the back, especially with his club head speed.
In recent years since Rory’s obsession with fitness started, I have noticed a decent reduction in his hip turn going back, its changed a noticeable amount since his early major triumphs at the US Open (2011) and US PGA Championship (2012). And then to begin this year I see more reduction again, I don’t know if he wants to shift a little or his body is doing it intuitively to create some say ‘room to move’ through impact (nice technical term there for you), either way it’s a dangerous path.
We have seen Jason Day struggle with back issues recently, and he is a prime example of a very restricted hip turn and a long upper body coil (hence Jason’s cross the line at the top). And from what I saw on the weekend, Rory is headed down this shallow hip turn/long upper body coil path to.
I don’t think so.
Bad for back? Yes.
Rory needs to dig into his archives and watch what he did to win his US Open, in my opinion. It could almost be to his detriment that he is so good he can play poorly and still win, because by the time he realizes what he has done, it could be to late. Golfers with his kind of club head speed need to protect the back at all costs.