Rory (78) unequivocally worse on Fridays than other rounds

By Jason SobelJuly 11, 2014, 6:05 pm

Apparently, there is no such thing as “TGIF” for Rory McIlroy.

The differential between McIlroy’s second-round scoring average and that of other rounds has been staggering so far this year – and it only became more glaring at the Scottish Open on Friday.

Following an opening-round 64, McIlroy posted a 7-over 78 to drop from sole possession of the lead to well off the first page of the leaderboard. His 64th stroke on Friday was a tee shot on the 15th hole. One day after posting eight birdies and just a single bogey, he had only one birdie and seven scores of bogey or worse.

We’re past the point of a developing pattern and well into an advanced trend.

Consider these numbers:

• In 13 worldwide stroke-play starts this year, McIlroy has fared worse in the second round than the opener on 10 occasions.

• Of those 10 jumps in score from Thursday to Friday, nine were increases of at least three strokes.

• His 14-stroke differential this week isn’t even his largest in the past month. That came at the Memorial Tournament, where he followed an opening 63 with a 78 the next day.

• He’s taken a total of 886 strokes in first rounds this year. The number increases to 939 in second rounds.

• He is 51 under par in first rounds and 9 over par in second rounds.

• And last but not least, his scoring average is 68.15 on Thursdays and 72.23 on Fridays.

Tournament      First Round Second Round Differential
Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship                          70  67  -3
Omega Dubai Desert Classic                                          63  70  +7
Honda Classic  63  66  +3
WGC-Cadillac Championship                                         70  74  +4
Shell Houston Open  70  71  +1
Masters Tournament                                                       71  77  +6
Wells Fargo Championship  69  76  +7
The Players Championship                                             70  74  +4
BMW PGA Championship  68  71  +3
Memorial Tournament                                                    63  78  +15
U.S. Open  71  68  -3
Irish Open  74  69  -5
Scottish Open  64  78  +14

Of course, it’s one thing to note a problem and another altogether to find both a reason for it and a solution.

We can point to off-course issues – a wedding cancellation and a lawsuit against his former management team amongst them – but that doesn’t explain why his poor play has been largely confined to Fridays. We can contest that it’s due to a lack of mental focus, but we’ll find the same issue with that theory.

For his part, McIlroy himself doesn’t seem to have an answer, either.

Looking back at his comments after some of those ugly second rounds this year, there are hardly any clues regarding his freaky Fridays. But there was one comment following that second-round 74 at The Players Championship which might be a hint:

“I’ve struggled to grind.”

It might sound too simplistic an answer, but it does serve as an explanation.

When things are going his way, when McIlroy is driving it straight and long, when he’s getting the putts to drop, he owns an innate ability to step on the gas pedal and make birdies in bunches.

When things aren’t going his way, though, when he’s missing fairways and greens, when he’s burning edges with his putts, he hasn’t been able to adjust and grind out pars when necessary.

As every professional golfer – McIlroy included – understands, the ability to stop the bleeding is just as important in tournament play as going super low.

So far this year, he’s been able to accomplish just one of those.

Once again this week, he started out with a super-low opening round. And once again, he backed it up with an inability to stop the bleeding.

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McCoy earns medalist honors at Q-School

By Will GrayDecember 11, 2017, 12:30 am

One year after his budding career was derailed by a car accident, Lee McCoy got back on track by earning medalist honors at the final stage of Tour Q-School.

McCoy shot a final-round 65 at Whirlwind Golf Club in Chandler, Ariz., to finish the 72-hole event at 28 under. That total left him two shots ahead of Sung-Jae Im and guaranteed him fully-exempt status on the developmental circuit in 2018.

It's an impressive turnaround for the former University of Georgia standout who finished fourth at the 2016 Valspar Championship as an amateur while playing alongside Jordan Spieth in the final round. But he broke his wrist in a car accident the day before second stage of Q-School last year, leaving him without status on any major tour to begin the year.

McCoy was not the only player who left Arizona smiling. Everyone in the top 10 and ties will be exempt through the first 12 events of the new Tour season, a group that includes former amateur standouts Curtis Luck (T-3), Sam Burns (T-10) and Maverick McNealy (T-10).

Players who finished outside the top 10 but inside the top 45 and ties earned exemptions into the first eight events of 2018. That group includes Cameron Champ (T-16), who led the field in driving at this year's U.S. Open as an amateur, and Wyndham Clark (T-23).

Everyone who advanced to the final stage of Q-School will have at least conditional Tour status in 2018. Among those who failed to secure guaranteed starts this week were Robby Shelton, Rico Hoey, Jordan Niebrugge, Joaquin Niemann and Kevin Hall.

Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 11:41 pm

The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.

The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.

Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.

The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.

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Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 8:57 pm

Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.

Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.

South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.

Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.

The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.



Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout

By Will GrayDecember 10, 2017, 8:55 pm

It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.

Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.

Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.

"We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."

Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout

Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.