The man who mentors McIlroy

The man who mentors McIlroy

Posted in the New York Forum

Since: Oct 12

New York, NY

#1 Nov 29, 2012
Michael Bannon, the quietly-spoken former club pro from Northern Ireland, was able to do exactly that as the desert's evening sun glinted on yet more silverware for his protege Rory McIlroy.

Fifteen years on from their first lesson together Bannon stood and watched. He was well away from the limelight, but could reflect with great satisfaction as his star pupil was handed the trophies for the Race to Dubai and the season-ending DP World Tour Championship.

It has only been this year that Bannon has relinquished his duties teaching the amateurs of Bangor Golf Club with his discount golf clubs.

"I've known Rory's mum and dad since before he was born and we've been friends in Holywood. I've seen Rory grow up from a child to where he is now; it's just unbelievable," Bannon told BBC Sport.

It was fifteen years ago at Holywood Golf Club near Belfast that the coach first started imparting golfing wisdom to McIlroy, who had been given the basics of the game by his father Gerry.

The boy, who as toddler had been bashing balls around the club, soon showed he possessed the skills that could take him far in the game with the most popular golf clubs for sale online.

Bannon was no mean player himself. In 1997 he lost out to none other than Padraig Harrington in a play-off for the Irish Professional Championship.

But his real strength has been nurturing McIlroy to greatness. Bannon says he has seen nothing better than the five-birdie climax the 23-year-old produced to wrap up his 2012 season in fitting style.

"Finishing with five single putts like that was incredible," he said.

The Dubai victory was McIlroy's fifth in a year in which he collected his second major by winning the PGA Championship by eight strokes in August with his taylormade rocketballz irons. He has already built a lead in the world rankings that is the largest we have seen since Tiger Woods was in his pomp.

Season blip where McIlroy missed high profile cuts at the Players', Wentworth PGA and in his US Open title defense. "It was just a little thing in the swing there," Bannon said.

"Possibly he was getting underneath the plane on the downswing and the club was traveling far too much on the inside and he was getting a miss to the right.

"There was too much technical stuff going on but as soon as we hit the Bridgestone event in Akron he really started to play again. It was all good from there."

McIlroy was fifth in that World Golf Championships tournament in August and a week later he romped to his PGA triumph at Kiawah Island.

It was one of those majors where he made the game look ridiculously easy. Bannon, though, is perfectly placed to know how much endeavor goes into reaching such a position.

The next challenge is to ready McIlroy for new equipment for the 2013 season. The two-time major champion is cashing in on his new status with a multi-million pound deal thought to be with Nike.

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