McIlroy captures 94th PGA Championship

By Doug FergusonAugust 13, 2012, 1:15 am

KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. - Rory McIlroy dressed the part as golf's next star and played like it, too.

Saving his bright red shirt for Sunday in the PGA Championship, McIlroy never gave anyone much of a chance. Two exquisite shots with the wedge set up back-to-back birdies to seize control of the final round. He never made a bogey over the final 23 holes of his marathon day.

McIlroy validated his eight-shot win at the U.S. Open last year by blowing away the field at Kiawah Island, making the 23-year-old from Northern Ireland the youngest player since Seve Ballesteros to win two majors. Tiger Woods was about four months older than McIlroy when he won his second major.

''I think I heard Tiger say, 'You can have a good season, but to make a good season a great season, you need a major championship,''' said McIlroy, who returned to No. 1 in the world. ''Now I've had two great seasons in a row no matter what happens from here in now. Hopefully, I can play some great golf from now until the end of the year and get myself ready for another great season next year, too.''

Standing on the 18th tee with a seven-shot lead, McIlroy turned to caddie J.P. Fitzgerald and said, ''I'm going to win this one by eight, as well.''

McIlroy rolled in a 25-foot birdie putt, raising the putter in his left hand as the ball rolled true to the center of the cup, saving enough strength to lift the heavy Wanamaker Trophy after another command performance in a major championship.

He shattered the scoring record at the U.S. Open. He broke Jack Nicklaus' record in the PGA Championship for margin of victory.

McIlroy took the lead for good Sunday morning with back-to-back birdies on the back nine to finish a rain-delayed third round at 67 for a three-shot lead. No one got closer than two shots at any point in the final round, and that last birdie gave McIlroy a 6-under 66.

David Lynn, a 38-year-old from England who was playing in America for the first time, won the B-flight. He closed with a 68 and was the runner-up.

Woods, who shared the 36-hole lead for the second time this year in a major, was never a serious factor. He tossed away his chances Saturday before the storm blew in and never could get closer than four shots. He closed with a 72, failing to break par on the weekend in any of the four majors for the first time in his career.

McIlroy was 13 shots better than Woods over the last two rounds.

''It was a great round of golf. I'm speechless,'' McIlroy said after hoisting the trophy. ''It's just been incredible. I had a good feeling about it at the start. I never imagined to do this.''

Winning the final major the year ends what had been a tumultuous season for McIlroy. Despite winning the Honda Classic in early March and going to No. 1 for the first time in his career, he went into a tail spin by missing four cuts over five tournaments as questions swirled that his romance with tennis star Caroline Wozniacki was hurting his game.

Instead, McIlroy put a big hurt on the strongest field of the year.

''I was a little frustrated with how I was playing earlier on in the year, but a few people in this room were probably pushing panic buttons for no reason,'' McIlroy said. ''It's just great to be able to put my name on another major championship trophy, and looking forward to April next year and getting a crack at another one.''

Woods predicted greatness for McIlroy when he first came to America at 19.

''He's very good. We all know the talent he has,'' Woods said. ''He went through a little spell this year, and I think that was good for him. We all go through those spells in our careers. He's got all the talent in the world to do what he's doing. And this is the way that Rory can play. When he gets it going, it's pretty impressive to watch.''

McIlroy finished on 13-under 275.

Ian Poulter put up the stiffest challenge, though not for long. Poulter, who started the final round six shots behind, made six birdies through seven holes to get within two shots. He made three straight bogeys on the back nine and had to settle for a 69. He tied for third at 4-under 284, along with Justin Rose (66) and defending champion Keegan Bradley (68).

In the final qualifying event for the U.S. Ryder Cup team, nothing changed.

Phil Mickelson was holding down the eighth and final spot, and he stayed there when neither Bo Van Pelt nor Steve Stricker could make a move on the back nine. Davis Love III will announce four captains' picks in three weeks.

McIlroy was tied for the lead with Vijay Singh when they returned Sunday. Twenty-seven holes later, McIlroy had no peer in the final major of the year.

When he won the U.S. Open last year, Padraig Harrington suggested that perhaps McIlroy - not Woods - might be the one to challenge the record 18 majors won by Jack Nicklaus. That looked like nothing more than one Irishman boosting another when McIlroy didn't come close in the next five majors.

But now?

''I think winning his second major is going to make things a lot easier for him,'' Harrington said. ''I think last year he proved it, but there's been ups and downs since his last major win because of the pressure and the expectations and the hype. Now he's delivered again. It's going to be a lot easier for him going forward. And he'll get better.''

Woods won his second major in his 12th try as a pro. McIlroy won his second in his 16th major.

''It's tough to say that Rory is a Tiger Woods type player,'' said Graeme McDowell, McIlroy's closest friend on tour. ''Tiger Woods is a once-in-a-lifetime player, and Rory is at least a once-in-a-decade type player. He's that good. ... He's going to be a superstar of game, which he already is. But he's a real superstar now.''

McIlroy went out in 33, saving par with a 10-foot putt on the ninth hole. That's what Woods used to do in the majors.

Poulter's birdie on the par-5 11th hole closed the gap to two shots, but not for long. From the sandy area short of the 10th green, McIlroy blasted out and closed his eyes when the wind blew sand into his face. He never saw the ball check a foot from the cup. And with a 10-foot birdie putt on the 12th, there was no stopping him.

The win ends a streak of the last 16 majors going to 16 different winners. McIlroy joined Woods, Harrington and Mickelson as the only players to win majors in consecutive years over the last two decades.

Carl Pettersson tried to put up a good fight, though he suffered a setback on the first hole without even realizing it.

The Swede drove just inside a red hazard line. He checked to make sure his club could touch the grass without grounding the club. That part was fine. However, PGA rules officials determined after scrutinizing a video replay that a small leaf that moved as Pettersson took back the club. That violates Rule 13-4c - moving a loose impediment while in a hazard - and three holes later he was informed it was a two-shot penalty. The par became a double bogey.

Pettersson responded with back-to-back birdies. By then, it was too late for Pettersson, really too late for anybody.

McIlroy might have won this major before breakfast.

He was among 26 players who had to return Sunday morning, playing the back nine to finish the storm-delayed third round. Tied with Vijay Singh at 6-under par, McIlroy missed two short birdie chances, and then made bogey on the 13th. He rebounded with birdies on the 15th and 16th, a tough bunker save on the 17th and a closing par for a 67 that gave him a three-shot lead.

Not once during the final round did the kid look like he was going to lose this one.

After going back to his island home for breakfast, a quick nap and a change of clothes - a bright red shirt, no less - McIlroy looked solid as ever. After pulling his approach on the par-5 second hole under a tree, he hit wedge off the wood chips to 6 feet for birdie. He came up just short of the green at No. 3, where the tees were moved up to play 293 yards, and hit an even better flip wedge to a tiny target on an elevated green. McIlroy holed a 15-foot birdie putt, and he was on his way.

As for the shirt?

McIlroy was planning to wear red, but only if he wasn't playing with Woods. He remembers Luke Donald in a red shirt while tied with Woods in the 2006 PGA Championship at Medinah, which Woods won by five shots.

''I wasn't playing with him and thought I would wear it,'' McIlroy said. ''Might have to do it from now on. No wonder he wins so much.''

Woods stepped into a cactus while hitting out of the dunes on the 15th hole in the morning, and his day got even more painful from there. He has gone 14 majors since winning his last one, No. 14, at the 2008 U.S. Open. He looks to be closer, with three PGA Tour wins this year and two 36-hole leads in the majors.

His regret when it was over - he tied for 11th - was all about attitude.

''I came out with the probably the wrong attitude yesterday,'' he said. ''And I was too relaxed, and tried to enjoy it, and that's now how I play. I play intense and full systems go. That cost me.''

It might not have mattered.

McIlroy said earlier in the week that he only wanted to give himself a chance, to feel that buzz of being in contention in the final round. He wound up putting the buzz back into golf, a sport in which all the talk has been about parity. McIlroy's name on the leaderboard means something.

''Rory is showing that with his 'A' game, everybody else is going to struggle to compete with him,'' Harrington said. ''And Tiger needs his 'A' game to come up against Rory. ... If Rory is playing as well as he is, Tiger is not going to pick a major off unless he's got his 'A' game out there.''

McIlroy is the sixth-youngest player to win two majors. The others were Young Tom Morris, John McDermott, Gene Sarazen, Nicklaus and Ballesteros. McIlroy set himself apart in one measure. He has won two majors by a combined 16 shots.

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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.


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Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.

@tommyfleetwood_1

A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.