All athletes strive to improve. But when their love for the sport is an obsession the chase for perfection becomes as enjoyable as the prize.
Rory McIlroy, Michelle Wie, Tony Finau, Brooks Koepka, and Patrick Rodgers embody that ethos and everything that comes with it: rising before the sun, practicing through blisters, overtime in the gym, eating right, sleeping right and seeking every opportunity to put club to ball.
A hotel hallway becomes a putting green. The picnic table transforms into the perfect target for backyard pitching. Curious morning smoothies features strange ingredients and top nutrition. And when hitting out of water is a first choice and not a last resort —the love of the chase is the only explanation.
“If you don't love the work you have to put in to become the best, then you may want to consider a different line of work or sport of choice,” said McIlroy. “I think the common denominator among every great athlete, no matter the sport, is they love the chase to improve. They dedicate themselves more and that’s the main reason they’re better.”
Nike Golf shares this passion in a series of short vignettes across social channels and a short film that premieres on Monday, April 4 and runs throughout the week on both ESPN and NBC The Golf Channel. All content has been produced in partnership with Wieden + Kennedy, Portland.
Leading up to the first major championship of the season, McIlroy’s long-term strategy has comprised nutrition, training and bettering his game. Then in mid-March, his training regimen transitioned into a strength and power phase. In addition to maintaining leg, core and shoulder strength, for the past two weeks he has incorporated more dynamic exercises, such as plyometric jumps and controlled landings.
For McIlroy, there’s also an art to preparing for the first major championship’s famous golf course. One way is to practice on similarly difficult courses, a methodology that the late, great Ben Hogan advocated.
According to swing coach Michael Bannon, McIlroy has been focused on executing precise iron shots to the right side of the hole – a requirement that next week’s major championship demands. He’s also been working on greens that are quick, complex and undulated.
In anticipation, McIlroy works with Bannon to replicate each of the shots required to win the championship, like drawing the ball off the tee, a shot required on many holes. Around the greens, it’s about hitting shots from tight lies; getting the ball on the right side of the hole. When it comes to putting, he’ll work on speed with left-hand low.
All of McIlroy’s hard work and struggle leading to the major moment brings a certain kind of peace — the knowledge that he is prepared.
A snapshot of McIlroy’s daily schedule the two weeks leading into the first major of the year:
5:30 a.m. Wake up — light breakfast
6:30 a.m. Hit the gym; running and mobility training/stability exercises
7:30 a.m. Eat larger breakfast with recovery drink
9:00 a.m. Course/Practice
1:30 p.m. Course/Practice
4:00 p.m. Mid-afternoon snack
4:45 p.m. Main workout
6:30 p.m. Dinner
10:00 p.m. Bed