Rory McIlroy makes mid-tournament driver change before Genesis second round

Rory McIlroy makes mid-tournament driver change before Genesis second round
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Thirty-eight players, statistically, drove it better than Rory McIlroy on Thursday at the Genesis Invitational, who gained just 0.661 strokes off the tee in the first round at Riviera.

Tiger Woods was not one of those players, yet McIlroy couldn’t help but notice that the 47-year-old Woods, even on a bad leg, had hit a few past one of the PGA Tour’s longest drivers.

“I’m going to go work on the range,” McIlroy said Thursday evening. “I put my driver up a click in loft at the start of the week; I might have to turn it back down again. I don’t like [Tiger] hitting it by me.”

Turns out, McIlroy didn’t just seek some extra practice. According to Barstool’s Dan Rapaport, McIlroy switched drivers between the first and second rounds, going from a first-generation TaylorMade Stealth Plus to the new Stealth 2 Plus while changing the loft setting to 9 degrees.

The results off the tee might have been immediate, as McIlroy ranked third in strokes-gained: off-the-tee when he finished his morning round, which included a 388-yard drive at the par-4 third hole.

Full-field scores from The Genesis Invitational

But the scorecard told a different story, as McIlroy backed up a 4-under 67 with a second-round 69. He had just two birdies until the final hole, the par-4 ninth, thanks to an uncooperative putter and three pars on each of the par-5s.

“I certainly drove the ball much better today,” McIlroy said. “I didn’t play the par-5s as well today. … That’s the key to this golf course is birdieing the birdie-able holes; I didn’t quite do that today. I made the birdies on the tougher ones, but hopefully going into the weekend, I’ll sort of tidy all that up.”

McIlroy sits at 6 under for the tournament, three back of current leader Keith Mitchell.

“Still sort of keeping myself within touching distance,” McIlroy added.

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