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PGA Golf

Rory McIlroy: Physical fitness ‘portrays a much better image for the game’

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Rory McIlroy forwarded the argument during a Tuesday appearance on “The Dan Patrick Show” that if more golfers attacked physical fitness with the same gusto as he does, it may help improve game’s popularity.

McIlroy, a notorious gym rat, has undergone a profound transformation from slightly pudgy teen prodigy to a ripped athlete who has put on over 20 pounds of muscle in previous years, an evolution prompted by a grueling workout regimen that involves 90-minute sessions five days per week.

Fresh off his dominant, record-breaking win at the Wells Fargo Championship — his 18th professional victory — McIlroy noted that improved physical fitness could translate to better play, although it’s not necessary for a golfer to look like some kind of NFL castoff to accomplish it.

“I think golf has progressed, it has become more of an athletic sport,” he told Patrick, as transcribed by Business Insider. “When you look at some of the moves guys make at the ball, you need to be strong in certain areas. You don’t need to be built like a linebacker but you need to have stability and strength in certain areas in your body.”

McIlroy gives all the credit to Tiger Woods for initiating a movement that trumped conventional wisdom about the importance of a golfer being in peak physical condition. In fact, he suggests more golfers making physical fitness a priority could help the game reach even new heights.

“If more golfers look athletic, it portrays a much better image for the game,” McIlroy told Patrick. “That encourages kids to maybe pick up the sport or pick up a club and maybe it encourages parents to get them into golfing as well. Because maybe 15-20 years ago the image of golf wasn’t athletic, it wasn’t the way it is now and Tiger has changed that.”

McIlroy’s dedication to working out does have its detractors, though, most notably Butch Harmon, who said he’s concerned that getting overly ripped can have a detrimental effect on a golfer while making the suggestion that Woods obsession with hitting the gym helped contribute to his body breaking down as he aged.

But in the end, it seems to be working out for McIlroy at this stage of his career. In other words, the proof is in the pudding … or in avoiding it.