McIlroy credits Wayne Rooney for improved putting

Arnold Palmer Invitational winner Rory McIlroy credited Everton forward Wayne Rooney for his improved putting at Bay Hill.

Arnold Palmer Invitational champion Rory McIlroy-cropped   -  Getty Images

Former world number one Rory McIlroy revealed the unlikely source of inspiration behind his improved putting display at the Arnold Palmer Invitational – Everton star Wayne Rooney.

McIlroy was back in the winner's circle last week, the four-time major champion cruising to a three-stroke victory at Bay Hill.

The Northern Irish star had not tasted PGA Tour victory since September 2016 but his putting, which featured five birdies from his last six holes during Sunday's final-round 64, saw him snap that drought.

And McIlroy credited former Manchester United and England captain Rooney ahead of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin.

"We were talking about different sports," McIlroy told reporters. "[former Ryder Cup player] Brad [Faxon] was talking about a free-throw shooter in basketball or he was trying to say even something you relate it to with football back home or whatever.

"We're talking about triggers and how do you start your putting stroke - everyone has different ways to start their swings or strokes.

"And I said Rooney, before he hits a free-kick or before he hits a penalty, he taps his toe on the ground before he actually starts his run-up. And I sort of noticed it when I shot a Nike commercial with him a few years ago."

Full of confidence heading into next month's Masters, McIlroy will face Brian Harman, Jhonattan Vegas and Peter Uihlein in the group stage in Texas this week.


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