Marathon season turns into a sprint for McIlroy

By Doug FergusonNovember 2, 2011, 12:25 pm

SHANGHAI – The smattering of conversations suddenly gave way to the constant shutters of cameras at Le Meridien hotel, and there was no mistaking who was causing all the commotion on Wednesday.

U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy could barely make his way across the room without being stopped. He stood tall as he posed with a Chinese businessman, and stooped over for another picture with a young girl, smiles everywhere. At his side was Caroline Wozniacki, the No. 1 player in women’s tennis and the girlfriend of golf’s newest star.

McIlroy wasn’t bothered by all the attention. As he said earlier Wednesday before a room packed with reporters at the HSBC Champions, it comes with his expanding territory.

Only now, the fuss is for more than just his golf.

It already has been a long year for McIlroy, who now embarks on a sprint to the finish when he tees off on Thursday in the final World Golf Championship of the year.

On the course, he went from a Sunday meltdown at the Masters to blow a four-shot lead to an overwhelming performance in the U.S. Open at Congressional, where he won his first major and shattered the scoring record in an eight-shot win.

Off the course, he is part of sport’s new power couple – “WozIlroy” – and then really caused a sensation when he chose to leave longtime agent Chubby Chandler of International Sports Management to join Horizon Sports Management, a Dublin agency that represents good friend and fellow U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell.

“It’s been an interesting year,” McIlroy said. “A lot has happened. There’s been incredible highs and the one very disappointing low. But I think that disappointing low was needed to experience the incredible high of Congressional. So it’s been a great year. When I get a chance to reflect on it over Christmas and the new year, it’s been a fantastic year and I wouldn’t take it back.”

The reflection can wait.

McIlroy won’t get into specifics over why he left Chandler, only that he wants to concentrate on winning tournaments. Chandler raised the notion that Wozniacki had become a big influence on him, while Lee Westwood tweeted that the move was “bizarre.”

In his first tournament since the split, McIlroy opened with a 64 against a world-class field last week in the unofficial Shanghai Masters, then beat Anthony Kim in a playoff to win $2 million, the richest payoff of any tournament in the world.

He can only hope that serves as a springboard toward a spectacular finish.

McIlroy is about $1.8 million behind Luke Donald on the European Tour money list going into the final month of the season. Donald, who won the PGA Tour money list by closing with a 64 to win at Disney World two weeks ago, was unable to play the HSBC Champions because his wife is expecting their second child.

Winning at Sheshan International comes with a $1.2 million check, which could make a big dent in the deficit as players make their way to the season-ending Dubai World Championship.

“With him not being here this week … I feel like I’ve got a chance to cut into the lead a little bit,” McIlroy said after enduring a steady rain in the pro-am. “It would be fantastic to get another win, the second win in two weeks, and cut into that lead. But it’s such a strong field here, and there’s a lot of guys with a chance to win.”

Missing from the field is Tiger Woods, winless in two years and ineligible for the first time at a WGCPhil Mickelson, a two-time winner of the HSBC Champions, chose to stay home with family before consecutive weeks in the Singapore Open and Presidents Cup. Dustin JohnsonMatt KucharSteve Stricker and Webb Simpson aren’t playing.

Even so, the field remains strong with a heavy influence of European players and enough PGA Tour players – Nick WatneyHunter Mahan, FedEx Cup champion Bill Haas and all four major champions – that there will be no shortage of challengers.

And it’s meaningful for plenty of these players, such as PGA champion Keegan Bradley. The HSBC Champions counts on the PGA Tour if one of its members wins, and that would give Bradley a Tour-leading three wins this year, including a major.

No one argues that Donald has had the best year – not Bradley, not even McIlroy – although the PGA Tour delayed sending out the awards ballots until after this week.

“Luke Donald has had such a great year,” Bradley said. “I think it would be difficult to beat him. But I definitely think a win would help.”

It’s been a great year, and certainly a memorable one, for McIlroy.

First came his collapse at Augusta National, where he shot 80 in the final round to blow a four-shot lead. That was followed by a flawless performance at the U.S. Open to capture his first major. He stumbled at the British Open, on the links and after his round when he complained about too much wind, and he had a jarring moment at the PGA Championship when he tried to hit a 7-iron through a tree root and injured his right arm.

McIlroy recovered, and he has not finished worse than third since the PGA Championship. Meanwhile, his star power grows. He first noticed that a month after the U.S. Open, when he walked into a press conference at Royal St. George’s and saw every seat occupied, with a dozen or so reporters lined up against the wall.

“It was the first time I had really addressed the media after Congressional, and it was a bit of a shock to me, to be honest,” McIlroy said. “I feel as if I’m learning to deal with it a little better, and it’s quite an adjustment to make. But that’s just part and parcel of what we do. And I’m very glad to be in this position, very glad that people are interested in me.”

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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.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


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.

Woods' initial comeback short-lived, leads to another back surgery

Article: Woods undergoes "successful" fourth back surgery

Article: Woods (back spasm) withdraws from Dubai

Article: Players disappointed Woods withdraws from Dubai

Really, again: Tiger undergoes fourth back surgery

Begay on Tiger: Future is 'extremely uncertain'


Woods arrested for DUI, enters diversion program after getting "professional help"

Article: Woods arrested for DUI in May

Article: Police say Woods had 5 drugs in system when arrested

Article: DUI affidavit states Tiger asleep in parked car

Dashcam video released of Tiger's DUI arrest

Begay, Rolfing: Tiger's arrest needs to be wakeup call

Photos: Tiger Woods' car during DUI arrest

Tiger Woods at his 2017 DUI court hearing.

Photos: Tiger Woods in court for DUI hearing

Article: Tiger gets 'professional help' for prescription meds

Tiger Woods at his 2017 DUI court hearing.

Article: Woods pleads in court guilty to reckless driving


Woods goes from unsure of his pro golf future to resuming full golf activities

Article: Doctor clears Woods for full golf activity six months after back surgery

Article: Tiger doesn't know what future holds

Article: Woods back to making full swings

Woods admits he might never return to competition

Making progress: Breaking down Tiger's driver swing


Woods returns to competition for first time since February at Hero World Challenge

Article: Hero comeback a success for healthy Woods

Article: Woods discusses his back: 'No issues at all, none'

Tiger Tracker: Woods finished T-9 in return to competition

Chamblee: 'I was wrong' about some of my Woods skepticism

Tiger, if you were hurting, would you tell us? 'Yeah, I'd tell you'


Woods out and about in 2017

Article: Video, images of Tiger's round with Trump

Article: Woods posts photo as 'Mac Daddy Santa'

Article: Tiger at U.S. Open sitting in Nadal's box

Article: Shirtless Tiger holds up a massive lobster

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 12:30 pm
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NBC Sports' Coverage of LPGA Tour in 2017 Most-Viewed Season Ever for NBC Sports

By Golf Channel Public RelationsDecember 13, 2017, 8:45 pm

NBC Sports’ LPGA Tour Coverage Ties 2013 for Most-Watched Year Since 2011

NBC and Golf Channel Boast Top-6 Most-Watched Women’s Golf Telecasts in 2017

Beginning with the dramatic playoff finish at the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic in January and concluding with Lexi Thompson winning the $1 million Race to the CME Globe, nearly 22 million viewers tuned in to LPGA Tour coverage across Golf Channel and NBC in 2017. This makes 2017 the most-viewed LPGA Tour season across NBC Sports since Golf Channel joined the NBC Sports Group in 2011. Additionally, 2017 tied 2013 as the LPGA Tour’s most-watched year across NBC Sports since 2011. Coverage drew an average of 221,000 viewers per telecast in 2017 (+24% vs. 2016), according to data released by The Nielsen Company.

NBC SPORTS GROUP CLAIMS TOP-6 MOST-WATCHED WOMEN’S GOLF TELECASTS IN ‘17

For the first time ever in televised women’s golf, Sunday’s final round of the RICOH Women’s British Open (Sunday, Aug. 6, 2017, 1.1 million viewers) delivered the most-watched and highest-rated women’s golf telecast of the year. NBC’s Saturday (Day 2) coverage of the Solheim Cup in August placed second with 968,000 viewers, followed by Sunday’s Solheim Cup coverage on NBC with 946,000 viewers. Golf Channel’s live coverage of Sunday’s final day of the Solheim Cup drew 795,000 viewers, the most-watched women’s golf event on cable in eight years.

Rank

Network

Event

Day

Avg. Viewers P2+

1

NBC

RICOH WOMEN'S BRITISH OPEN

Sunday

1,100,526

2

NBC

SOLHEIM CUP

Saturday

968,202

3

NBC

SOLHEIM CUP

Sunday

946,387

4

NBC

KPMG WOMEN'S PGA CHAMPIONSHIP

Sunday

839,983

5

NBC

RICOH WOMEN'S BRITISH OPEN

Saturday

808,578

6

GOLF

SOLHEIM CUP

Sunday

795,000

ADDITIONAL VIEWERSHIP MILESTONES FOR WOMEN’S GOLF IN 2017

  • ANA Inspiration - The LPGA’s first major championship delivered thefifth most-watched LPGA final round in Golf Channel history with 551,000 viewers when So Yeon Ryu defeated Lexi Thompson in a playoff following Thompson being assessed a four-stroke penalty earlier in the final round.
  • KPMG Women’s PGA Championship – The LPGA’s second major was seen by 6.6 million viewers across Golf Channel and NBC, the largest audience for the event on record (2006-17). Sunday’s final round on NBC, which saw Danielle Kang win her first LPGA Tour event over defending champion Brooke Henderson, also was the most-watched telecast in the event’s history with 840,000 average viewers.
  • RICOH Women’s British Open – NBC’s Sunday coverage of the RICOH Women’s British Open delivered the most-watched and highest-rated women’s golf telecast in 2017 (.78 U.S. HH rating, 1.1 million viewers). In total, 7 million unique viewers tuned in to coverage across Golf Channel and NBC, the most-watched RICOH Women’s British Open in the past 10 years and the most-watched among the five women’s major championships in 2017.
  • Solheim Cup – Seen by a total audience of 7.3 million viewers across Golf Channel and NBC, the Solheim Cup posted the largest total audience for women’s golf since the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open on ESPN/NBC. Golf Channel’s live coverage of the final day drew 795,000 average viewers, becoming the most-watched women’s golf telecast on cable in the last eight years, since the final day of the 2009 Solheim Cup.

GOLF CHANNEL DIGITAL POSTS RECORD STREAMING CONSUMPTION

Golf Channel Digital posted record numbers of LPGA streaming consumption with 11.9 million live minutes streamed across LPGA Tour telecasts in 2017 (+563% vs. 2016).

  • Solheim Cup – Three-day coverage of the Solheim Cup saw 6.3 million minutes streamed across NBC Sports’ Digital platforms, trailing only the 2016 Rio Olympics (9 million) as the most-ever for a women’s golf event airing on Golf Channel / NBC.
  • RICOH Women’s British Open – Four-day coverage of the RICOH Women’s British Open saw 2 million minutes streamed, +773% vs. 2016.

NBC Sports Group combined to air 31 LPGA Tour events in 2017 and a total of 420 hours of coverage, the most in LPGA history. The exclusive cable home to the LPGA Tour, Golf Channel aired coverage of four of five women’s major championships in 2017, with three majors also airing on NBC: the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, RICOH Women’s British Open and The Evian Championship. The biennial Solheim Cup also returned to network television for the first time in 15 years with weekend coverage on NBC.

Source: Nielsen 2017 Live+Same Day DVR vs. prior available data. Persons 2+ avg 000’s and/or Persons 2+ reach w/six-minute qualifier. Digital Metrics from Adobe Reports & Analytics. Details available.