McIlroy ends slump at BMW PGA days after breakup

By Associated PressMay 25, 2014, 7:59 pm

VIRGINIA WATER, England – Rory McIlroy put aside the anguish in his private life to win the European Tour's flagship BMW PGA Championship on Sunday.

The double major winner came from seven shots back at the start of the final round to shoot a 6-under 66 and win by 1 stroke with an overall 14-under 274 on the Wentworth course.

It was McIlroy's first European Tour success since December 2012 and ends a run of eight second-place finishes in 11 events this season.

Shane Lowry of Ireland came second with a round of 68 for a 13-under 275. Denmark's Thomas Bjorn (75) shared third place on 12 under with England's two-time BMW PGA winner Luke Donald (70).

McIlroy's 12th victory worldwide comes four days after the 25-year old Northern Irishman confirmed the breakdown in his relationship with Danish tennis star Caroline Wozniacki.

McIlroy had been close to tears on Wednesday when talking to the media. He was still subdued Sunday despite his victory though he hugged his father Gerry and long-time coach Michael Bannon.

''I guess when I got inside the ropes this week, it was a little bit of a release, and I was on my own and doing what I do best, which is playing golf, and that sort of gave me four or five hours of serenity or sanctuary or whatever you want to call it,'' McIlroy said.

''I was just focusing on the job at hand which was to play golf and get the ball in the hole in the lowest number of shots possible ... It's obviously been a week of very mixed emotions, but I'm sitting here looking at this trophy going, 'How the hell, how did it happen this week?' But it did.''


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It was McIlroy's first success since coming from behind to win December's Australian Open in Sydney. He heads into next month's U.S. Open as a strong contender to win the event for a second time in four years.

''The win at the end of last year in Australia sort of stopped all the questions about equipment and about struggling and slump and all this stuff,'' McIlroy said.

''But to win here, against a great field, one of the best fields of the year, especially in Europe sort of cements that, and shows where my game is and I'm on the right track again. Hopefully, it won't be long before I'm contending in majors and having a chance to win those again.''

Lowry went into the last day some five shots behind third round leader Bjorn but found himself in front when Bjorn took a triple bogey 7 at the par four No. 6.

After three birdies in a row from the 10th, Lowry had his own troubles in taking a double bogey at the par four 13th. However, the former Irish Open and Portugal Masters winner regrouped to birdie the 14th and, while he dropped a shot at the next, the 26-year-old Lowry holed a 30-foot birdie at the last to secure second place on his own.

''I'm happy but I know I am going to be sitting in my hotel room tonight and the 13th hole is going to be going through my head,'' Lowry said.

The 43-year-old Bjorn went into the last day with history on his side as no player had lost at this European Tour event after leading by five shots.

By the ninth hole Bjorn had forfeited his advantage - taking a bogey at No. 5, triple bogey at the sixth where he failed to get out of a greenside bunker in regulation, and dropping a further shot at the ninth.

The Dane birdied the 12th but was in trouble again with bogeys at Nos. 14 and 15 before birdies at the next two holes in an eventual round of 75.

''It's a disappointment when you come off the golf course like this,'' Bjorn said. ''I just didn't get it right today and I made that massive judgment error on six and that kind of let everybody back into the frame.''

 

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McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson.

Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.

“I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

“Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

This was his first competitive round in four months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014. 

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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

"I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"


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The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

"It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

"It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

"I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

"If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."