McIlroy worn down by schedule, co-leading Hong Kong

By Associated PressDecember 2, 2011, 1:07 pm

HONG KONG – Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland retained a share of the lead at the Hong Kong Open on Friday after shooting a 1-under 69 in the second round.

The U.S. Open champion was joined at 7-under 133 by first-round co-leader Alvaro Quiros of Spain, who also had a 69.

Panuphol Pittayarat of the Philippines shot a 65 and Scotland’s Richie Ramsay had a 66 to sit a shot back in second.

McIlroy had a chance to grab the outright lead at the last hole, but missed a 4-foot putt for par to finish an up-and-down round with a bogey, his second over the last three holes.

Two-time Hong Kong Open champion Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain and New Zealand’s Danny Lee were two shots behind the leaders at 5-under 135.

David Horsey of Britain, who had a share of the lead after the opening day alongside McIlroy and Quiros, slipped to 4 under after a 72.

Defending champion Ian Poulter shot a 68 that included an eagle, three birdies and three bogeys. He was among a group of eight tied for 21st six shots back.

McIlroy blamed his poor finish on a hectic schedule.

“I’m mentally and physically fatigued and it showed in a couple of tired swings toward the end. But I don’t think the season was long, I made the season long for myself. It was not as if I was obligated to play,” said McIlroy, whose round included four birdies and three bogeys.

McIlroy has had a busy two months, figuring in a number of lucrative unsanctioned events that included the Lake Malaren Shanghai Masters, where he won golf’s richest purse of $2 million.

The 22-year-old also made a weeklong jaunt across China sponsored by a Hong Kong tycoon’s property company, playing 18 holes spread across seven cities.

“The last 10 weeks has been long. It has been an experience, something I can learn from in the future,” McIlroy said.

“It is all a matter of rest. I had two weeks off in the Maldives in-between the HSBC Champions in Shanghai and the World Cup (in Hainan last week), but I got sick during this time and I was on the drip for three days,” he added.

McIlroy shot a flawless opening round of 64, but managed to hold onto a share of the lead despite struggling to find his touch Friday.

“I was not feeling myself today. I didn’t feel as if I played as well as yesterday. It’s just my energy levels are low. But it is all not bad. I’m still tied for the lead,” said McIlroy.

McIlroy needs a top-2 finish to have a shot at overtaking Luke Donald in the European Tour money race.

Pittayarat, a last-minute entry, led Asia’s challenge after he shot a sparkling second round of 65 that included an eagle and three birdies.

“It’s a lucky day. I scrambled around the course well and hit a lot of good putts,” said the Thai teenager. “I had a good feeling today and my overall score came out great.”

Pittayarat, an Asian Tour rookie, was third on the reserve list for the tournament, and only found himself in the lineup of 138 after two no-shows.

“I didn’t expect this. I barely got in and my goal was just to make the cut. I’m up there now and I will try to keep it that way on the weekend,” Pittayarat said.

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McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger

By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.

The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.

McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.

McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.

''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''

Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.

''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''

McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.

''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.

''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''

The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.

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Pre-tourney caution be damned: Stenson rides camel

By Grill Room TeamJanuary 16, 2018, 3:29 pm

If you were under the impression Henrik Stenson's days of engaging in pre-tournament hijinks at HSBC-sponsored events were over, then you don't know the Swedish Superman.

Ahead of this week's HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, the 2016 champion golfer of the year decided to have some fun riding (and pretend-spanking) a camel:

If you can't imagine any reason Stenson wouldn't get on a camel, we will point you to the WGC-HSBC Champions back in October, when Stenson, Dustin Johnson, Haotong Li and Hideki Matsuyama took place in this hire-wire act:

Two weeks later, Stenson revealed a rib injury, and a report from the U.K.'s Telegraph stated "that not only was the Shanghai caper to blame, but that Stenson is annoyed about being persuaded to do it in the first place."

Stenson brushed back at that report in this Instagram post, saying that his "comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal."

I’m disappointed to have to pre-emptively withdraw from the Nedbank Golf Challenge Hosted by Gary Player, I was looking forward to this important year-end event on the European Tour. At this point I am back home in Orlando waiting to do a scan on my ribs and get the necessary rest. I am still hoping for a quick recovery and have not ruled out playing in Dubai next week at this point. My comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal. The plan as of now will be to participate in the DP World Championship if my body is back to 100%. H

A post shared by Henrik Stenson (@henrikstenson) on

And it would appear he genuinely meant those comments, at least enough to get on a camel.

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Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:25 pm

Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.

The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.

Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.  

“I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”

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Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.

Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.