That’s got to be what happened, because the only other explanation for showing a Rory McIlroy drive carrying 365 yards on Wednesday at the range would be that there’s some fraudulent representation going on somewhere.
I will admit that my initial thought when I saw a 365 yard carry with 181 mph ball launch speed was, “My God, the balls are going way too far!”
Of course, that would be anyone’s initial thought if you figured everything was on the up and up, right? But then… I thought a bit and…
There’s no way Rory hit a drive with 181 mph ball speed that carried 365 yards at Quail Hollow...
I took a look at Rory’s drive distances yesterday in the first round of the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow, and as a commenter from another blog pointed out drily, “Rory seems to have lost 50 yards on his carry since that range session…”
Let’s be brutally honest here – we know what club speed and ball speed can produce, in a range, and 365 yards carry with 181 ball speed doesn’t pass the sniff test.
I was reminded by Terry in one of his comments yesterday about the fuss that kicked up last winter at the WGC in Mexico when Justin Thomas posted an Instagram picture of his 355 yard carry with an epic drive:
Now, let’s break it down – Justin Thomas has among the best launch numbers you will find in pro golf when it comes to driver, and we can see that, at 7,500 ft altitude (2,300m) where they played the WGC, he carried a ball 355 yards with 178.9 ball launch speed.
With a club impact speed of 120 mph, that is near-perfect impact, with a Smash Factor of 1.4908, and at a 7,500 foot altitude, we can see that you might be able to carry a ball 360 yards or so with 181 mph ball speed, with near-perfect impact.
So, we can say the same for Rory – he is very efficient with his launch conditions, and we could perhaps buy 365 at close to a mile and half above sea level.
But 365 at sea level?
No way, Jose – there’s something way off with that. I don’t care if the range is downhill, and if there was a following breeze – unless that grade was 45 degrees and the following breeze was being tracked by the National Weather Service… you aren’t carrying a ball 365 yards with 181 mph launch speed at sea level.
If that were possible, we would have seen something similar to that yesterday – and you can’t say that Rory wasn’t swinging as hard, because we have the “monster drive’s” ball speed at 181.
I tracked several of Rory’s drives yesterday and again, he’s very consistent – every drive I saw had a launch speed of 180-181 and I saw at least four or five, and the carry distances varied between 300 and 320 or so.
His drives were carrying around 300-310 yards for the most part with about 325 in total, with a big one standing out at 351 total distance, but even 351 total distance gives you a carry of likely 315-320 with a downhill fairway, a good bounce and run out.
So, how does Rory go from 365 to 300-320 carry the very next day, with the same ball speed?
Answer: He only does it if the launch monitor on the range was malfunctioning or, worse, had been tinkered with to fudge the distances. And we know that can be done with launch monitors.
The fact that this all occurred after TaylorMade blitzed the world with Rory’s ball change a few months ago, and that this happened the day before the last major of the year kicked off, adds to my strong suspicion that something funky (i.e. not accidental) was going on with that machine.
I’m just doing the math here, and I can confidently question the result, without knowing the exact cause.
You don’t lose 50 yards of carry from practice to competition, not when the ball speeds are identical and you’re a ball-driving machine as Rory is.
And you simply don’t carry a ball 365 yards at sea level with a 181 mph ball speed off the tee.
If you could, we’d be seeing that right now out on the course at Quail Hollow, because there will be hundreds of drives hit this week with similar launch speeds.
And higher – some of these guys are producing 190 mph ball speed and…
They’re not even close, and that goes for Rory.
I will wait to be proven wrong…
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