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Proper gapping from driver to wedge is critical at every level of the game. For us mere mortals, it’s hard enough covering off all the gaps from 250 yards to zero. Imagine having the firepower to require gapping from 325+ yards all the way down.
That’s exactly the case with Team TaylorMade’s Rory McIlroy. At his level, he has the ability to launch drives of 325 yards or more with ease. Then his 3-wood goes 300 yards, and his 5-wood is a perfect 275-yard club, which makes the gap between his longest iron and 5-wood crucial.
“Rory could have a gap between a 235 yard 4-iron and a 275 yard 5-wood, so you’re looking at 40 yards there that he has to fill with one club,” says TaylorMade Senior Tour Rep Adrian Rietveld. “That’s a big gap, and it all stems from his power and speed. So now, we needed to fill that 40-yard gap with a golf club that’s versatile and consistent, so he doesn’t feel like he’s giving anything up.”
At the start of the 2022 season, McIlroy began testing both P·770 and P·790 3-irons as options. The goal was to find a club that launched high, had optimal spin and landed softly – while also giving him the ability to hit draws and hit fades. It was like trying to fit two golf clubs into one in order to cover the yardage gap.
The design of P·790 compared to a traditional iron provides high launch without needing to increase the loft because of tungsten weighting, CG placement and the Thru-Slot Speed Pocket. The high launch and low spin DNA lets McIlroy to be aggressive into par 5s and land the ball softly on long par 3s (250-yard par 3s seem ridiculous to us, but they’re more common on Tour). Perhaps, most importantly, he’s able to hit a variety of shots depending on course demands.
“Rory hits it a stock 250 yards with a high launch and good spin. If he turns it over with a drawing ball flight he can get it to 260. If he hits a soft cut, he can get it to 240-235. The ability for someone to take off yardage at his speed and his power is remarkable. He can draw the ball and hit it harder but also reign it in when he needs to. It’s amazing he’s found a club with the ability to do all of that.”
Adrian Rietveld, Senior Tour Rep
As with any fitting, you have to pair the right club with the right shaft. After testing four different graphite options, McIlroy got to the desired flight and feel with Ventus Black 10 TX. McIlroy also plays the Ventus Black graphite shaft in his driver, 3-wood and 5-wood, which helped facilitate his comfort with the feel of the shaft.
McIlroy put the P·790 3-iron in play at the Genesis Invitational and has it in the bag this week at Bay Hill, a course that requires supreme accuracy and shop shaping. Combine proper gapping with a player like McIlroy, and he has what he needs in the bag to find victory on any course.
“Your average Tour player has 14 golf clubs to cover the distances between 290 carry and zero,” Rietveld says. “With Rory, you have a player that’s trying to cover the distance between zero and 325+, so the tools in the bag need to do more than one job and (TaylorMade Vice President of Tour Operations) Keith Sbarbaro fit him into a club that can do that.”