[PHOTO: Andrew Redington]

The idea behind the PGA Tour’s signature events was to have the best players on the circuit play against each other more often. At the Wells Fargo Championship, the script set up nicely as Rory McIlroy and Xander Schauffele were poised for a final-day showdown. McIlroy, however, showed that “extra gear” people talk about and he cruised past Schauffele to win the tournament for the fourth time.

After three-putting the par-5 seventh then watching Schauffele roll in an eagle putt to take a two-shot lead, McIlroy responded with a birdie-birdie-eagle burst on holes eight, nine and 10 to take the lead. Two more birdies on 13 and 14 stretched the lead to five as Schauffele bogeyed the 12th and 13th. A hole-out from the bunker at the par-5 15th gave McIlroy another eagle for good measure and an eight-hole stretch where he went eight-under-par.

Rory McIlroy demolishes Xander Schauffele, and everyone else, to head to Valhalla on fire

As always, the driver was a weapon for the four-time major champion. McIlroy ranked first in strokes gained/off the tee, picking up more than six shots on the field with his TaylorMade Qi10 driver. McIlroy’s driver has 9 degrees of loft and a Fujikura Ventus Black 6x shaft. He was first in driving distance, averaging 337 yards (308 metres).

“The driving is more just me committing to most of the time hitting that little cut that I’ve been hitting off the tee, and then having the freedom to just, every time I hit a good tee shot, the more confidence I get and then the more I want to just keep hitting it,” McIlroy said.

McIlroy’s putter also was working and when that’s the case, few can match him (non-Scottie Scheffler division). McIlroy ranked eighth in strokes gained/putting for the week with his TaylorMade Spider X X3 mallet putter. That included an absolute show on the final day when he rolled in 133 feet of putts in the first 14 holes.

Interestingly, this was the first week McIlroy used a TaylorMade TP5x ball with no number on it. Previously he used golf balls with the number 22, a nod to his marriage to Erica Stoll on April 22, 2017, but also because the number 22 meant “powerful” and “high risk, high reward”.

Instead, the ball simply has RORS on it instead. And as McIlroy showed at Quail Hollow, he’s plenty “powerful” without the number 22.

What Rory McIlroy had in the bag at the 2024 Wells Fargo Championship:

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

Driver: TaylorMade Qi10 (Fujikura Ventus Black 6x), 9 degrees

3-wood: TaylorMade Qi10, 15 degrees

5-wood: TaylorMade Qi10, 18 degrees

Irons (4): TaylorMade prototype; (5-9): TaylorMade Rors prototype; (PW): TaylorMade MG4

Wedges: TaylorMade MG3 (50, 54 degrees); Titleist Vokey Wedgeworks (59 degrees)

Putter: TaylorMade Spider X X3