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brennan's brief Bannon out and Cowen in as Rory bids to turn things around

And boy does he need to turn things around

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Rory McIlroy was soundly beaten by Ian Poulter in his opening matchplay tie. Image creidt: PA.

Rory McIlroy was soundly beaten by Ian Poulter in his opening matchplay tie. Image creidt: PA.

Rory McIlroy was soundly beaten by Ian Poulter in his opening matchplay tie. Image creidt: PA.

So, with half of the golf world telling Rory McIlroy to change his caddy, and the other half wanting to see him switch coach, the former World No 1 has taken the latter path.

He has jettisoned Michael Bannon, his mentor since he was eight years old, and taken up with Pete Cowen, a golf coach of the old school.

Officially Bannon is still part of ‘Team Rory’, but Cowen is now the man when it comes to helping Rory to turn things around.

And boy does he need to turn things around. Yesterday, Rory was hammered 6 & 5 by his Ryder Cup team-mate Ian Poulter in the first round of the World Matchplay Championship in Austin, Texas.

It summed up his morning’s golf that one drive off the tee ended up in the swimming pool of one of the villas that line the course. His drive had missed the fairway by miles.

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Rory McIlroy pictured with Michael Bannon during the BMW PGA Championship in 2012. Photo: David Cannon/Getty Images

Rory McIlroy pictured with Michael Bannon during the BMW PGA Championship in 2012. Photo: David Cannon/Getty Images

Rory McIlroy pictured with Michael Bannon during the BMW PGA Championship in 2012. Photo: David Cannon/Getty Images

Rory will be back, winning at the top and nothing surer. But it may be a tough road before he gets to the Promised Land.

Cowen once memorably told a former subject to take himself and his clubs off the Augusta driving range and ‘get out of here’, that he wasn’t listening to advice and wasn’t going to improve until he did.

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Rory McIlroy shares a joke with coach Pete Cowen during the 2014 Ryder Cup.

Rory McIlroy shares a joke with coach Pete Cowen during the 2014 Ryder Cup.

Rory McIlroy shares a joke with coach Pete Cowen during the 2014 Ryder Cup.

It won’t come to that at the Masters next month, remember it’s the one place above all that Rory wants to win. Yet if Cowen gets it into his head that Rory is not listening then this marriage a) won’t be made in heaven and b) won’t last long.

Rory had to do something to arrest a slump that has seen him fall from World No 1 to World no 11, and he’ll probably be 12 or 13 by the end of the Matchplay Tournament on Sunday night.

At 32, he’s no longer ‘the kid’ as there are at least half a dozen players younger than him who are already Major Champions. Maybe they have only won one Major, not Rory’s four, but the last of his successes was in August 2014. It’s a long time ago, and so there is an awful lot for Rory’s career hanging on this change of coach.

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