Most men would kill — but not hit the gym — to have Rory McIlroy’s physique. Since he burst onto the golf scene nearly a decade ago with a mediocre build, the Northern Irishman has transformed his body into one worthy of a Men’s Health Magazine cover.
One thing Rory didn’t shed, however, were his critics.
Several members of the golf media have recently voiced their pointed opinions about Rory’s beefed up body. Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee went public with his worries early in 2016, saying “it does give me a little concern when I see the extensive weightlifting that Rory is doing in the gym.”
McIlroy famously shrugged off Chamblee with this unforgettable response:
— Rory McIlroy (@McIlroyRory) February 16, 2016
NBC golf analyst Johnny Miller joined the attack during the 2016 British Open. While explaining why Rory hasn’t won more majors (he’s stuck at a lowly four, double Miller’s career total if anybody’s counting).
“I think he overdid the weight room,” Miller said. “I don’t think that helped him at all. Same thing with Tiger Woods. You just get carried away with wearing the tight shirts and showing off their muscles.”
Golf Magazine columnist Alan Shipnuck also has an opinion on the matter, recently firing off this tweet regarding the muscle madness on Tour:
It seems obvious that golfers should be supple and flexible. Getting thick and bulky – like Tiger, Rory and JDay – can’t be a good idea.
— Alan Shipnuck (@AlanShipnuck) May 12, 2017
If you didn’t already know who Rory McIlroy is before reading this, based on these criticisms, you might assume he’s a washed-up meathead who can’t put a coordinated swing on a golf ball. And like Chamblee, Miller, and Shipnuck, you’d be dead wrong.
Despite the fact that his major championship “slump” sits at nine events without a win heading into the 2017 U.S. Open, and a nagging rib injury that has kept him on the sidelines for much of the year, Rory holds the No. 2 spot in the Official World Golf Rankings. How can this be, you ask, given Rory’s dedication to the gym? Golf fitness expert Carolina Romero, the woman behind the social media persona the Fit Golfer Girl, uses a simple formula to explain.
“When we think about the ability to hit the ball and generate swing speed, force equals mass times acceleration,” she says. “When Rory was tiny … he didn’t really have a lot of mass, he had to accelerate his little body a lot,” Romero told my At The Turn podcast, referring to McIlroy’s physique when he was noticeably less muscular toward the beginning of his professional career.
“This was actually hurting his lower back,” she said. “This was not exactly good for longevity. If he’s going to continue to play for many, many years … he needs to make sure that he continues to generate these speeds without putting so much pressure on his body. If he just increases his muscle mass a little bit, he’s going to be able to reach that same amount of force — meaning his same distances and his same speeds — with a lot less acceleration, which is going to put less stress on his body.”
To refute the critics even more, Romero goes on to explain that the added muscle Rory has built might actually do more to preserve his career than damage it.
“Even if his mass is a little bit higher, this is actually going to protect his back and his body and give him longevity in the sport,” she said.
Rory’s longevity remains to be seen, but his results speak for themselves. With four majors and a No. 2 world ranking, there’s no need for McIlroy to defend himself on Twitter… but it’s quite entertaining when he does.