Rory McIlroy has the golfing world at his feet. He followed last year’s triumph at the US Open with victory in last month’s US PGA and, this weekend in Chicago, he’ll be aiming for Ryder Cup success. Before that, we asked him for the secrets of his training regime.
Can your fitness mean the difference between winning and losing?
Absolutely. With the level of players at the moment you have to give yourself the edge. I have felt much more comfortable since bulking up.
What exactly do you do in the gym?
Weights have become one of the most important parts of my training. Not just my upper body but the lower part as well. I also do a lot of cardio work using the treadmill and the bike.
What do you do to improve your ball-hitting power?
That was the main reason I got on the weights, because the power in my shot is so important. I am not necessarily hitting the ball further, but I have to put in less effort and have more control.
How physically demanding is golf?
People don’t look at golf as the most physically demanding sport, and it isn’t, but if you want to be the best you have to train. People don’t believe how long I spend doing weights. They say, “But you only play golf.” In the modern game, you need to be an athlete.
What about mental preparation – how do you work on that?
I am good at moving on when I have had a bad day. Take my final round at The Masters last year – if I replayed that in my head it wouldn’t have done my game any good. The best mental preparation is to say to yourself this current tournament is in no way reflective of the last one – whether the last was a success or not.
Do you use any sophisticated gadgetry to assist you in practice?
There is a machine you wire yourself to and it shows which muscles are working well during your swing and which need work. I used it with Steve McGregor [Rory’s fitness coach] and it showed us my muscles needed work. I credit that for my game today.
Tell us about your nutrition regime.
I do watch what I eat – you have to. I am not really strict with myself, but I make sure I eat well. When I was trying to bulk up I obviously had to make sure I was getting the right energy. Even now when I am having a big weights session I make sure I eat things that will be slow-burning in the gym.
What’s the most effective drill for putting practice?
The trick with putting is that if your posture and body position are not right then nothing else will be. It takes practice and might feel unnatural at first, but once your posture and stance are right everything else will follow.
Do you do other sports as part of your training?
I like to swim. It is a great way to help relax the muscles as well. The combination of the heat and water is great for the body.
What about music – are there any tracks you like to listen to while you train or work out?
I am a big fan of Swedish House Mafia and dance music in general, which maybe isn’t normal golf pro taste.
Rory’s Killer tip
Get yourself a putting alignment mirror. It is probably the single most important prop you can buy to help your putting and it is not very expensive. The great thing about it is that you don’t have to wait until you are on the putting green to use it. You can use it at home, or in your hotel room if you are away on business.