Rory McIlroy signaled that he is ready to make a run at returning to #1 by outplaying Adam Scott in the final round of the Australian Open. He used a revamped swing that you will see in the video is what I would consider to be a major improvement to the one that won him 2 majors. I compare those wins to Tiger winning the Masters in 1997 with a swing that would be completely different by the time he won the PGA in 1999. There is a much better understanding now about how a swing needs to function for a player to achieve ball striking mastery because of the technology available not only to measure what happens when a ball is struck, but also to study actual footage of the greatest players ever to play to see how they accomplished what they did. In the “should golf be approached as an art or a science?” debate it is clear that no matter what your fantasies are about “just feeling it” the best players are using any and every means possible to help them strike the ball better. All these guys are using video and launch monitors. Once they get it what they feel is good enough they will curtail the use of technology, but as soon as they want to change something they will go right back to it, because it would be silly not to. Why go without seeing what you are really doing?
It is obvious that McIlroy has been working with video because he has made significant changes to both his set up and his swing. His takeaway is still away from him but now the left arm moves across the chest quicker and the hands get deeper early in the backswing. His leg movement has improved drastically as he is showing much better balance in his knee and hip movement with the right leg getting deeper and the left knee jutting out in front of him much less. From the top McIlroy has made a huge change, moving his hands almost out toward the ball, the opposite of the backward, hand dropping loop that he had in 2010 and 2011. Tiger Woods tends to make a huge deal out of his own swing changes: I think McIlroy has been up to changing his swing as much as Tiger ever did; only he doesn’t advertise it. With this new, improved motion (and I hope he’s not finished making it better) I would expect him to be contending for #1 by the end of 2014.