McIlroy leads by four thanks to another 66

By Associated PressJuly 18, 2014, 7:09 pm

HOYLAKE, England – Rory McIlroy cast aside any talk of those second-round doldrums with a performance at Royal Liverpool that threatened to turn this into another major championship runaway.

As for Tiger Woods, he was fortunate just to make the cut at the British Open.

Any hopes of a duel between the guy who once ruled golf and the player most likely to take his place as the face of the game quickly faded Friday as McIlroy romped to a 6-under 66 that gave him a commanding lead heading to the weekend.

This is starting to look like his first two major victories, both by eight shots, at the 2011 U.S. Open and the 2012 PGA Championship.

''I feel like I just have an inner peace on the golf course,'' McIlroy said. ''I very comfortable in this position. I'm very comfortable doing what I'm doing right now. It's hard to describe. I wish I could get into it more often.''

Woods used to know that feeling.

Not on this day. In his first major of the year after undergoing back surgery, Woods showed his rust by struggling to a 77, his worst round at the British Open since that 81 at stormy Muirfield in 2002. A triple-bogey at the 17th nearly sent him home for the weekend, but a delicate chip over a pot bunker at the 18th set up a 6-foot putt that gave him his only birdie of the day.

It was just enough to keep him around for the weekend.

He's got almost no chance of catching McIlroy, trailing the leader by a whopping 14 shots, though he did bring up Paul Lawrie rallying from 10 shots down on the final day to catch Jean Van de Velde at Carnoustie in 1999.

Of course, that would require McIlroy falling apart the way Van de Velde did.

What are the chances of that?

''I'm pretty far back,'' Woods conceded. ''Hopefully I can play well and give myself a shot going into the back nine on Sunday.''


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Woods has failed to make the cut at a major only three times in his professional career, most recently at the 2011 PGA. He also missed at the 2006 U.S. Open, shortly after the death of his father, and the 2009 British Open.

McIlroy's matching 66s gave him a 36-hole total of 12-under 132 - the same score that Woods posted at the midway point of his last British Open victory in 2006, at this very same course along the Irish Sea.

There were no more questions about the strangest quirk in McIlroy's year - a mysterious run of high scores in the second round, which no one could explain but had admittedly gotten in his head.

The 25-year-old from Northern Ireland wiped those thoughts away by the time he went out for an afternoon round at Hoylake, where the weather again worked in favor of his end of the draw. Playing early on Thursday, McIlroy benefited from pristine conditions. On Friday, the wind howled in the morning but settled after lunchtime, taking away the primary defense of a links course.

Through the first two rounds, McIlroy has made only one bogey - at the first hole Friday. That was long forgotten by the time he closed with three easy-as-can-be birdies over the final four holes, looking as though he barely broke a sweat on a sunny, sticky day.

''It is not a surprise what Rory is doing,'' Woods said. ''He plays pretty aggressively to begin with, and when he is going he can get it going pretty good.''

Dustin Johnson was McIlroy's closest challenger, claiming a spot in Saturday's last group with the best round of the tournament so far, a 65 that left him at 136.

No one else was closer than six shots, though there's plenty of star power in the group at 138 with former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel, young gun Rickie Fowler and perennial major challenger Sergio Garcia, still seeking the signature win of his career after all these years.

Worried about an approaching storm that is forecast to strike Royal Liverpool on Saturday afternoon, the R&A announced it will have players tee off from both the first and 10th holes for the first time in the history of golf's oldest major.

When Woods made a mess of the 17th hole, it looked as though he might not need another tee time. First, he drove far right of the fairway. After walking 150 yards toward his ball, he was told it was out of bounds. Trudging back up the fairway, he teed off again and sent the ball flying into the high grass that separates the 16th and 17th fairways. After four more shots, he had to put down a 7.

That pushed Woods total score to 3 over, one shot higher than the projected cut line as he headed to the par-5 18th. He did manage to pull things together well enough to make a birdie, but at 146 there will be more than 50 players between him and McIlroy.

''I never made anything,'' Woods said. ''I had myself in good positions to make birdies and I didn't do it.''

That wasn't a problem for McIlroy, who had plenty of birdies on his card and another that wanted to horn in on the action. As McIlroy lined up a birdie putt on the eighth green, a pheasant strolled into his path. He shooed it away with help from his caddie - and rolled the ball right into the cup.

''I haven't run into that before on the golf course,'' McIlroy said. ''I might have had a swan or a duck or a geese or something. Never a pheasant. But it was nice. It didn't put me off.''

Nothing does, it seems.

Rose (62) sets blistering pace in Indonesia

By Associated PressDecember 14, 2017, 3:06 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia – Justin Rose shot a 10-under 62 Thursday to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, starting on the back nine at Royale Jakarta Golf Club, had five birdies to go out in 31, then birdied four of five holes midway through his final nine and another birdie on his last hole in the $750,000 tournament.


Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters


Gunn Charoenkul (64) was in second place and Kim Giwhan and Phachara Khongwatmai (both 65) were tied for third.

Brandt Snedeker shot 72. Ranked 51st in the world, the American is aiming for a strong finish in Jakarta to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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LaCava: Woods wouldn't talk after H.O.R.S.E. match

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 2:27 pm

The competitive streak within Tiger Woods knows no bounds - even on the basketball court, according to caddie Joe LaCava.

LaCava has been on Woods' bag since 2011, and he recently shared a story on "Inside the Ropes" on Sirius/XM PGA Tour Radio about a clash between the two men over a seemingly friendly game of H.O.R.S.E. Actually, it turned into nine straight games (and nine straight wins) for LaCava, who exploited a weakness in Woods' on-court strategy while leaning on a mid-length jumper of his own:

"The thing with him was if I missed a shot, which I missed plenty of shots, but if I missed the shot he'd go back down to the 3 (point line) because he liked to make the 3," LaCava said. "But it's harder obviously to make a 3, and I'd go right back to the baseline 12-footer, and he couldn't make it."

It's a short list of people who have beaten Woods nine times in any athletic pursuit, let alone in a row. But for LaCava, the fallout from his afternoon of on-court dominance was less than subtle.

"He did not talk to me the rest of the day," LaCava explained. "I didn't even get the old text, 'Dinner is ready,' because I stay across at the beach house. I didn't even get that text that night. I had to get take-out. He didn't announce he wasn't (talking), he just did it. I'm telling you, nine games in a row. Like I said, he's so competitive, even at something like that."

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 3, Tiger Woods

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 12:45 pm

After returning to competition at the Hero World Challenge in December 2016, Woods started the new year with an ambitious slate of tournament starts as he eyed his first full season since 2013. But he made it only three rounds, looking rusty en route to a missed cut at Torrey Pines before withdrawing abruptly in Dubai.

The “spasms” that led to that withdrawal turned out to be something far more serious, as Woods underwent his fourth and most invasive back surgery in April, a lumbar fusion. It brought with it an extensive rehabilitation, and at the Presidents Cup in September Woods humored the prospect that he might never again play competitive golf.

At Liberty National he also faced some scrutiny for an off-course incident from months prior. In May he was arrested for suspicion of DUI, an incident that produced a startling roadside video of an intoxicated Woods struggling to follow instructions from the arresting officer after driving erratically.


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While he was not drinking at the time, Woods was found to have a mix of several prescription medications in his system, including multiple painkillers. He checked himself into a private drug treatment program in July to address his dependency issues, and in October he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of reckless driving.

But the incident was barely a memory when Woods again made a return to competition in the Bahamas at the tournament he hosts. This time around he exceeded nearly every expectation, twice shooting 4-under 68 while tying for ninth among the 18-man field. Having re-tooled his swing following fusion surgery, Woods appeared relaxed, happy and healthy while briefly taking the lead during the tournament’s second round.

What lies ahead for Woods in 2018 remains uncertain, as the stop-and-start nature of this past season serves as a cautionary tale. But after a harrowing arrest and another serious surgery, he seems once again focused on his game, intent on chasing down a new crop of elite talent, some of whom are barely more than half his age.

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 12:30 pm