McIlroy within reach of Honda win, world No. 1

By Doug FergusonMarch 3, 2012, 11:03 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. - Rory McIlroy is one round away from No. 1 in the world.

McIlroy made two big par saves Saturday on a windy back nine at PGA National and finished with a birdie from the bunker for a 4-under 66, giving him a two-shot lead over Harris English and Tom Gillis in the Honda Classic.

McIlroy was in a similar position a week ago when he reached the final of the Match Play Championship—win and the 22-year-old from Northern Ireland becomes the second-youngest player behind Tiger Woods to be No. 1 in the world.

Only this time, there is more than one player to contend with in the final round. Five players were within four shots of the lead, a group that includes PGA champion Keegan Bradley.

“I wasn’t standing up 2 up on the first tee in the final,” McIlroy said, smiling.

The group does not include Woods. He finally made a few putts, but not nearly enough to keep pace with everyone else. Woods went the last 11 holes without a birdie and had to settle for a 69, leaving him nine shots behind.

English, the 22-year-old rookie who won on the Nationwide Tour last year while still an amateur, made a 10-foot par save on the 17th and finished with a 66. He will be in the final group with McIlroy, a rare time when the U.S. Open champion will be playing with someone his own age with a tournament on the line.

They will be joined by Gillis, a 43-year-old journeyman who turned pro a year after McIlroy and English were born. Gillis had the lead to himself on the back nine until a bogey on the par-3 15th. He had a 69.

McIlroy was at 11-under 199.

“It’s nice to have the lead going into tomorrow,” he said. “I have to try to focus on what I’ve been trying to do all week, which is hit fairways and hit greens and stay in the present, and not think about everything that could happen.

“I’ve just got to go out there and try to put a good number on the board.”

The wind was at its strongest, though not too severe and the tees were moved forward on the par 3s over the water because of the dangerous front hole locations.

That’s where McIlroy was at his best.

He hit 8-iron at the middle of the green on No. 5 with a draw that held up against the wind to 10 feet and made one of only 10 birdies on the day. On the 15th hole, the start of PGA National’s famous finish, McIlroy hit 9-iron to just outside 5 feet, the closest anyone got in the third round.

There also was a bonus birdie on the par-4 11th, with water in front of the green. McIlroy was in mangled rough to the right, and the safe route was to play short and left of the green to avoid a big number. He blasted a 7-iron from 181 yards to the back fringe, and then holed a 50-foot putt. NBC Sports reporter Roger Maltbie walked by on the way to the 12th tee and said to him, “Really?”

McIlroy tried to contain a smile under his cap and curly brown hair.

Even so, his two key shots were for par. From the right rough on the 13th, the best he could manage was to hit into a front bunker, some 30 yards short of the flag. McIlroy nearly holed the shot to escape with par, and then he made an 8-footer for par on the next hole.

“They were two crucial holes today,” he said.

English is showing that his win last summer on the Nationwide Tour was not an accident. He breezed through Q-school in December and has yet to miss a cut all year, though he has not finished better than a tie for 15th in the Phoenix Open.

Even so, he is polished and looks capable of winning, even against a player whom everyone is ready to crown as No. 1. English is among them, smiling when asked about playing a 22-year-old on the verge of going atop the world ranking.

“Rory is awesome,” English said. “I haven’t had a chance to meet him yet, but I’ve definitely watched him play the last couple of years. He’s got a great game and he deserves. I think he’s the best player in the world right now, hands down, and I’m looking forward to tomorrow. He’s very impressive.”

Bradley had a 68 and was in the group at 7-under 203 with Brian Harman (69) and Justin Rose (71). Masters champion Charl Schwartzel wasted a good start with a double bogey on the 11th hole, but still had a 67 and was five shots behind.

The best Woods looked came early in his round, when he birdied the third hole from 7 feet, holed a 20-footer on the fourth for birdie, made a 15-foot par save on the sixth and stuffed his tee shot on the seventh into 4 feet.

That was his last birdie, though.

“I was close to putting a low one up there today,” Woods said. “I felt like it could be had, I could make a run and post 5-under par for the day or something like that and get myself within reach. Right now, Rory is playing some great golf.”

Starting times have been moved up for the final round because of storms in the forecast, meaning players will be in threesomes. Gillis could only laugh at the notion of a journeyman being in the last group with a pair of kids.

“Hopefully, they don’t walk too fast and I can catch up to them,” Gillis said.

Behind that self-deprecating humor, developed from toiling in 26 countries in a hardscrabble career, is a guy who has been around too long to be intimidated by much, even someone of McIlroy’s ability.

Gillis dropped only one shot, going over the back of the par-3 15th and into the bunker, with his next shot stopped a few feet from going into the water. Otherwise, he was steady.

“I wish I could have got a couple out at the end to get a little closer to Rory,” Gillis said. “He’s not the type of guy you want to spot two shots to. But anything can happen on this golf course—anything. So we’ll just add them up tomorrow.”

Getty Images

Rose leads halted Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters when bad weather stopped play Friday during the second round.

The Englishman, who shot a 10-under 62 on Thursday, had completed 13 holes and was 5 under on the day at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat (64) was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew wit on the 11th hole at 2 under for the day after shooting an opening 72.

There was no reason given for his withdrawal, but the American has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.


Playing with the pros

Tiger, DJ and Faxon

Article: Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

Article: After DJ and Tiger, Trump plays golf with Jack

Rory faces criticism

Article: Rory: Round with Trump about respect for presidency

Article: Rory: Round with Trump not a 'political statement'


President at the Presidents Cup


Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

Article: President Trump presents trophy to U.S. team

Article: Stricker: 'Great thrill' to get trophy from Trump


Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73


Cart on the green


Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green


Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open


Article: Trump makes presidential history at Women's Open

Article: Trump supporters, protesters clash near Women's Open

Article: UltraViolet takes protest inside Trump National


Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open


Trump golf properties

Vandalism

Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses

Finances


Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

Reportedly fake TIME covers


Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover


Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

Report: Trump's voter fraud claim tied to Langer

Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up


Pros comment on the president

Article: Players defend Trump at Senior PGA Championship

Article: Trump congratulates Daly; Daly congratulates Trump

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.