Mark down Lee Westwood as another member of the golf elite who, during this coronavirus pandemic, has swapped the fairways for the racing bike in the search for competitive kicks.
And although the 47-year-old acknowledges he has a far greater chance of bettering his Tour rivals with a club in hand rather than a pedal at foot, the former world No 1 still refers to Peloton as a “blessing” during this enforced absence.
Peloton is the most popular of exercise bicycles that, with a Wi-Fi–enabled tablet, allows the rider to compete with other participants on a live leaderboard, ranking them on “output” or the total wattage of energy expended.
Rory McIlroy, the world No 1, is an avowed enthusiast and recently talked about the absurd numbers he set in one ride that became the talk of this online community.
“Yeah, that was me,” McIlroy confirmed when asked if he was the mystery golfer who racked up a startling 955 kilojoules of total output for a 45-minute ride, good enough for 11th out of nearly 9,000 riders. “But I think the bike was a little juiced.
“I did that the Monday after Riviera [the Los Angeles course for last month’s Genesis Open] in the hotel. My bike at home, I can sit in the saddle at a 50 resistance at a 90 cadence and bang that out for 45 minutes or an hour. But 50 resistance on this bike felt really easy, so I sort of cranked it up. So I’d say juiced, yeah.”
McIlroy’s humility belies the astonishing figures he has been recording in the days since the Tours went into lockdown. On Saturday, he revealed on Instagram another top 25 finish with statistics which experts claim would be “just below that of a borderline professional rider” and challenged his Tour colleagues to try to match it.
Billy Horschel, the 2014 FedEx Cup champion, has been the most vocal in taking up the gauntlet, but while his frequency in the top 250 is a fine achievement he cannot yet emulate McIlroy.
Bubba Watson, Brandt Snedeker, Adam Scott, Jordan Spieth and Charley Hoffman are other PGA Tour names in pursuit, as they use this outlet to channel their competitive spirit until their profession can resume.
“I would say that is probably a massive part of it,” Westwood said. “I’m doing a ride every day at the moment, because there isn’t anything else to do. I would have been playing in the Dell [World Golf Championship] Match Play this week, at the Valero Texas Open next week and the Masters the week after. This helps focus the mind and stay in shape.”
As in golf, the pros are helping each other out. “I’ve had it about a year after a mate told me about it,” Westwood said. “And if I push it, I can get fairly high up [the rankings]. But Rory told me I should try to get up to near 200 on the watts and I was bang on that yesterday. Yeah, it was tough.
“That was a 30-minute Tabata [a version of high-intensity intermittent exercise]. I burned 500 calories and was 1,625th out of 18,500. This morning I was 1,074th out of more than 11,000 in my 45-minute workout.”
These are impressive numbers for someone of Westwood’s age, but obviously McIlroy is out of sight as he targets yet another appearance on a leaderboard.
“I’ve never really enjoyed doing cardio,” McIlroy said. “But since being a part of that whole community, I’ve started to enjoy it. And I enjoy the whole leaderboard aspect of it and that it is competitive in some ways. You’re always trying to beat your last score. It makes me earn my dinner.”