McIlroy up against the big boys again this week

By Associated PressMarch 4, 2009, 5:00 pm
2007 Honda ClassicPALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. ' Rory McIlroy is going through his schedule, sounding remarkably unimpressed.
 
Honda Classic this week. Doral next week. A quick trip home. Back to the United States for a round at Augusta National, maybe even a practice round with Tiger Woods in there somewhere.
 
Its a glitzy itinerary for just about any pro golfer. For the 19-year-old from Northern Ireland, its somehow no big deal.
 
I just go out and play golf, talk about what Ive been doing, and everything else takes care of itself, McIlroy said.
 
He makes it all sound simple.
 
Golfs latest Next Big Thing is at PGA National this week, where Sergio Garcia, Camilo Villegas and defending champion Ernie Els headline the field at the Honda. But theres going to be plenty of eyes on the teen, whos already No. 16 in the world rankings and gave eventual champion Geoff Ogilvy all he wanted last week at Match Play before losing 2 and 1 in the quarterfinals.
 
McIlroy has already won at Dubai, and with a victory this week or at Doral, could become the PGA Tours youngest winner.
 
Hes what I was 10 years ago, Garcia said.
 
As almost always, the South Florida wind is blowing. The greens are even a touch quicker than last year and many are convinced that if anyone matches Els 6-under 274 from a year ago, he will be the guy walking away with $1,008,000 on Sunday.
 
McIlroy says hes looking forward to the daunting challenge of the Jack Nicklaus design.
 
I think especially with the breeze and the last few holes, its going to make for a pretty interesting finish as it always does, McIlroy said. It will be a good week, and one Im looking forward to.
 
There usually seems to be some young player on tour facing lofty expectations, and not everyone, of course, lives up to the billing.
 
But McIlroy is already commanding respect.
 
Definitely one of the superstars of the future, said Robert Allenby, who lives just down the road from PGA National. Hes got a great talent. I think hes going to be fantastic for the tournament this week. Hell be definitely one of the favorites to win for sure, with the way hes been playing.
 
That may be true, although its hard to handicap any tournament that doesnt include Tiger Woods. And at PGA National, a few bad swings can send anyone freefalling down the leaderboard.
 
Slow and steady is the preferred method to win at the Honda, something Els managed last year and Mark Wilson ' whos coming off a win in Mexico last week ' did the year before that.
 
The one-shot-at-a-time motto is something my mom gave me when I was in junior golf and thats what I try to do every week, Wilson said. And on a course like this where par is good, youve just got to hang in there.
 
PGA National is a long par-70, with its lure being the Bears Trap, a stretch of holes 15, 16 and 17 thats a nod to Nicklaus and has par-3s at its beginning and end. Theres some tricky short holes, some par-4s that are reachable only with long irons if the winds blowing strongly, and missing on the wrong side of many greens will just take par out of play.
 
Sounds brutal, but players love the test.
 
The course looks in great shape and looking forward to playing it, said Garcia, whos up to No. 2 in the world and could further close the gap on Woods for the top spot this week. Obviously, its a tough course. We know that. And you have to be very patient throughout the week.
 
Not every 19-year-old could have that patience.
 
By now, though, dealing with situations like this is old hat for McIlroy. He started really turning heads with a sensational opening round at Carnoustie two years ago, and simply doesnt seemed fazed by all the attention on him these days, either.
 
Woods chased Nicklaus as a kid, now-famously taping a list of Nicklaus accomplishments on his bedroom wall growing up. On McIlroys wall, there was a copy of Woods scorecard from the 1997 Masters.
 
Any new kid that comes out is going to be compared to Tiger because he has been the best of the last 10 or 15 years, and he might be the greatest golfer of all time by the time he finishes, McIlroy said. So it doesnt bother me. You have to have someone to compare yourself against. And if I can get anywhere close to him, Ill be very happy.
 

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    CareerBuilder purse payouts: Rahm wins $1.06 million

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 12:50 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry on the fourth hole of sudden death to win the CareerBuilder Challenger. Here's a look at how the purse was paid out in La Quinta, Calif.:

    1 Jon Rahm -22 $1,062,000
    2 Andrew Landry -22 $637,200
    T3 Adam Hadwin -20 $306,800
    T3 John Huh -20 $306,800
    T3 Martin Piller -20 $306,800
    T6 Kevin Chappell -19 $205,025
    T6 Scott Piercy -19 $205,025
    T8 Brandon Harkins -18 $171,100
    T8 Jason Kokrak -18 $171,100
    T8 Sam Saunders -18 $171,100
    T11 Harris English -17 $135,700
    T11 Seamus Power -17 $135,700
    T11 Jhonattan Vegas -17 $135,700
    T14 Bud Cauley -16 $106,200
    T14 Austin Cook -16 $106,200
    T14 Grayson Murray -16 $106,200
    T17 Andrew Putnam -15 $88,500
    T17 Peter Uihlein -15 $88,500
    T17 Aaron Wise -15 $88,500
    T20 Ricky Barnes -14 $57,754
    T20 Stewart Cink -14 $57,754
    T20 Brian Harman -14 $57,754
    T20 Beau Hossler -14 $57,754
    T20 Charles Howell III -14 $57,754
    T20 Zach Johnson -14 $57,754
    T20 Ryan Palmer -14 $57,754
    T20 Brendan Steele -14 $57,754
    T20 Nick Taylor -14 $57,754
    T29 Lucas Glover -13 $36,706
    T29 Russell Knox -13 $36,706
    T29 Nate Lashley -13 $36,706
    T29 Tom Lovelady -13 $36,706
    T29 Kevin Streelman -13 $36,706
    T29 Hudson Swafford -13 $36,706
    T29 Richy Werenski -13 $36,706
    T36 Jason Dufner -12 $27,189
    T36 Derek Fathauer -12 $27,189
    T36 James Hahn -12 $27,189
    T36 Chez Reavie -12 $27,189
    T36 Webb Simpson -12 $27,189
    T36 Tyrone Van Aswegen -12 $27,189
    T42 Bronson Burgoon -11 $18,983
    T42 Ben Crane -11 $18,983
    T42 Brian Gay -11 $18,983
    T42 Chesson Hadley -11 $18,983
    T42 Patton Kizzire -11 $18,983
    T42 Hunter Mahan -11 $18,983
    T42 Kevin Na -11 $18,983
    T42 Rob Oppenheim -11 $18,983
    T50 Alex Cejka -10 $14,025
    T50 Corey Conners -10 $14,025
    T50 Michael Kim -10 $14,025
    T50 Kevin Kisner -10 $14,025
    T50 Sean O'Hair -10 $14,025
    T50 Sam Ryder -10 $14,025
    T50 Nick Watney -10 $14,025
    T57 Robert Garrigus -9 $13,039
    T57 Tom Hoge -9 $13,039
    T57 David Lingmerth -9 $13,039
    T57 Ben Martin -9 $13,039
    T57 Trey Mullinax -9 $13,039
    T57 Brett Stegmaier -9 $13,039
    T63 Scott Brown -8 $12,449
    T63 Wesley Bryan -8 $12,449
    T63 Brice Garnett -8 $12,449
    T63 Sung Kang -8 $12,449
    T67 Talor Gooch -7 $12,095
    T67 Tom Whitney -7 $12,095
    T69 Matt Every -6 $11,623
    T69 Billy Hurley III -6 $11,623
    T69 Smylie Kaufman -6 $11,623
    T69 Keith Mitchell -6 $11,623
    T69 Rory Sabbatini -6 $11,623
    T69 Chris Stroud -6 $11,623
    75 John Peterson -5 $11,210
    76 Abraham Ancer -4 $11,092
    77 Ben Silverman 4 $10,974
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    After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

    Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

    On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

    Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

    Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

    It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard


    On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

    There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

    He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

    His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

    Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

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    Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

    By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

    With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

    He picked up one more No. 2, too.

    The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

    In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

    Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

    “It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

    Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

    Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

    He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

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    Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

    Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

    Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

    His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

    “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

    Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

    Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.