McIlroy center of attention at WGC-Cadillac Championship

By Doug FergusonMarch 6, 2013, 9:18 pm

DORAL, Fla. – As if quitting in the middle of a golf tournament didn't bring Rory McIlroy enough attention, it might not let up on the golf course.

McIlroy has been going through damage control the last five days after his abrupt departure when he was 7-over par through eight holes and decided to call it quits at the Honda Classic. After an apology to Sports Illustrated, he faced the media on Wednesday and took all the blame.

''I actually think in the long run, Friday will be a blessing in disguise,'' he said, referring to the day he withdrew last week. ''It was like it just sort of released a valve, and all that pressure that I've been putting on myself just went away. And I was like, 'Just go out and have fun. It's not life or death out there. It's only a game.'

''I had sort of forgotten that this year.''

The world's No. 1 player won't be able to escape the spotlight when the Cadillac Championship gets under way on Thursday at Doral.


Video: McIlroy at Doral, apologizes for Honda WD

Photos: Rory McIlroy through the years

Video: Woods sheds light on McIlroy


This World Golf Championship tends to group the top players in the world ranking, meaning McIlroy gets to spend the opening two rounds with Tiger Woods and Luke Donald. And while McIlroy's behavior was questioned last week, it's his game that has been the most curious.

He played with Woods when both made their 2013 debut in Abu Dhabi, and the 23-year-old from Northern Ireland had rounds of 75-75 to miss the cut. Woods also missed the cut that week because of a two-shot penalty, though he flew halfway around the world the following week and won at Torrey Pines for his 75th career win.

McIlroy had a sloppy performance on Dove Mountain and lost in the first round of the Match Play Championship, and then made it through only 26 holes at PGA National. He lost track of the hours he put in at The Bear's Club over the weekend, hopeful that he can sort out the problems in his swing.

His expectations for the week?

''Just work on my swing,'' he said as he walked out the door after his press conference. ''Try to get my swing back.''

Woods is coming off a mediocre performance in the Honda Classic, failing to break par in any of the four rounds on his way to a tie for 37th. He is a three-time winner at Doral and had never finished out of the top 10 until he withdrew after 11 holes last year with tightness in his left Achilles tendon.

Woods can appreciate the scrutiny McIlroy faces. He also had some sound advice.

Keep going.

''We play week after week,'' Woods said after nine holes of practice on the Blue Monster. ''Once one week ends, you have to move on the next one. And we're on a different venue and different golf course. For me over the years, I've just put it aside and moved on, whether it was good or bad, whether I won the tournament or missed the cut, whatever it may be. You move on and get ready for the next event.''

With each week, The Masters gets closer.

Only a dozen players in the 65-man field at Doral are not yet in the Masters, so it's an important week for the likes of Geoff Ogilvy, Fredrik Jacobson, Richard Sterne and Charles Howell III, all of whom are trying to establish themselves in the top 50 when the final cutoff arrives at the end of the month.

And for McIlroy, it's a matter of sorting out his game.

He described his swing change as trying to put it back the way it was last summer, when he went on a tear at the end of the year by winning the PGA Championship for his second major, two FedEx Cup playoff events and the season finale in Dubai to capture the money title on the two biggest tours.

He is getting close.

''We found it,'' he said. ''It's just a matter of getting comfortable with it. When I take the club away and try to put it in the right position, it feels very alien to me right now. But the more reps I do, the more comfortable I'm going to get with it.''

Even so, he is not inclined to add another tournament to his schedule. If he were to play poorly at Doral, McIlroy would consider playing Bay Hill. Otherwise, he would stick to his plan of making the Houston Open is only other stop before Augusta.

Another example of the Masters on the horizon was Phil Mickelson, who made a detour to Augusta on Tuesday to play with Keegan Bradley.

Mickelson was dominant when he won the Phoenix Open, though he didn't contend his next two weeks at Pebble Beach and Riviera, and then he took the last two weeks off.

''The first week I didn't touch a club and this last week I've been practicing pretty hard,'' Mickelson said. ''And I've had some good rounds and I'm optimistic, but you just never know until you get in competition, and today at Doral, this is playing as tough as I've seen this golf course play. The rough is thicker and denser than I've seen – and longer – and it's going to have a premium on getting the ball in the fairway.''

Woods, meanwhile, is trying to end a drought in these World Golf Championships. He has won 16 of them, but none since Firestone in late summer of 2009. His game has been all over the place – missed cut, win, middle-of-the-pack - but Doral is familiar turf.

''I've liked the venue. I like being here, and this course and this tournament have been good to me over the years,'' he said.

He might not recognize the course much longer. Donald Trump bought the resort last year and will start tearing it up on Monday after the tournament is over, adding length and more water features in what The Donald describes as a ''brand new course.''

Trump playing 'quickly' with Tiger, DJ

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 24, 2017, 1:33 pm

Tiger Woods is scheduled to make his return to competition next week at his Hero World Challenge. But first, a (quick) round with the President.

President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that he was going to play at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., alongside Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Woods and President Trump previously played last December. Trump, who, according to trumpgolfcount.com has played 75 rounds since taking over the presidency, has also played over the last year with Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els and Hideki Matsuyama.

Chawrasia leads major champs in Hong Kong

By Associated PressNovember 24, 2017, 1:19 pm

HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia extended his lead at the Hong Kong Open to two strokes Friday after a 4-under 66 in the second round.

Chawrasia, who had led by one at the Hong Kong Golf Club, is at 9-under 131 overall and took as much as a five-stroke lead at one point.

''Yesterday I was putting very well, and today, also I make some up and downs. I saved a couple of short putts. That's why I think I'm leading by two shots most probably,'' the Indian said. ''The next two days, I'm just looking forward.''


Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open


Thomas Aiken (64) is second, followed by Alexander Bjork (66), Joakim Lagergren (66), Poom Saksansin (68) and Julian Suri (67) at 5 under 135.

Aiken's round was the lowest of the tournament.

''It is tough out there. The greens are really firm. You've got to hit the fairway,'' Aiken said. ''If you get above the holes, putts can get away from you.''

Justin Rose (69) had six birdies, but three bogeys and a double-bogey at the par 3 12th kept him at 3 under for the tournament.

Masters champion Sergio Garcia (71), playing for the first time in Hong Kong, was at even par, as was defending champion Sam Brazel (71) and 2014 champion Scott Hend (67).

''I have to play better,'' Garcia said. ''The way I felt like I played, it's difficult. This kind of course, you need to play well to shoot a good score.''

Day (68) just one back at Australian Open

By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.

Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)

What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.

Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.

Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.

Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.