McIlroy's links fortunes improve after Scottish 64

By Jason SobelJuly 10, 2014, 2:20 pm

There are very few definitive statements ever made in opening-round journeys on the golf course, and even fewer made in the opening round of a tournament which is essentially viewed as a preview to an upcoming major championship.

So let’s not be too quick in declaring that Rory McIlroy’s course-record 7-under 64 at the Scottish Open on Thursday should sound the alarms. Let’s not use this singular example as proof that he’s changed public perception of his game. Let’s not instantly insist that he’s figured out links golf and windy conditions and should now be considered the man to beat at next week’s Open Championship.

But it sure is a step in the right direction.

If there can be a knock on a 25-year-old two-time major winner with 10 other professional victories already on his resume, it’s that McIlroy curiously hasn’t played his best golf in conditions that would seemingly be most fitting for someone who grew up learning the game in Northern Ireland.

There was that opening-round 63 which led to a share of third place when the Open was held at St. Andrews four years ago, but that week hardly featured the worst weather Scotland has to offer. His results in the year’s third major have been otherwise pedestrian: He was T-47 in 2009; T-25 in 2011; T-60 in 2012; and missed the cut last year.

McIlroy drives the 436-yard, par-4 13th in Round 1

Perhaps he’s taken a cue from Phil Mickelson.

Last year, Mickelson – a notoriously unsuccessful links golfer – not only played the Scottish Open, but won, and then used that as a springboard to claiming the claret jug one week later.

Afterward, Mickelson spoke about embracing links golf and learning to love it, rather than becoming increasingly frustrated by it.

Prior to this week’s edition of the Scottish – McIlroy’s first appearance at the event in five years – he largely echoed those sentiments.

“You've got to relish the challenge,” McIlroy said Wednesday. “I'm trying to adopt more of that mindset, especially for these couple of weeks a year. It's not like I haven't played well on links courses before and in links conditions. Just getting back to that. And I think the more you play, the more sort of used to it you are, because back when I was 15, 16, 17, playing links golf all the time, it wasn't anything to put your wet gear on and play, where now, we're so spoiled playing in great conditions. 

“Yeah, it's nice to get back and play in some conditions like this.”

There is no corollary that exists which can tell us the impact of a positive attitude on a scorecard. It can’t be judged like fairways hit or greens in regulation or total putts.

It’s safe to say, though, that without viewing “the challenge” through that prism, McIlroy wouldn’t have set the Royal Aberdeen course record with eight birdies (including six in a seven-hole span) against just a single bogey in what can best be described as perfectly Scottish conditions.

After the round, McIlroy was beaming about the performance – not only for what it meant, but for what it could mean going forward.

“This morning, in these blustery conditions, I thought anything in the 60s was going to be a good score, so to shoot anything better than that is very pleasing,” he explained. “Just the way I controlled my ball flight out there, I was really pleased with. That’s a real key for me to play well on links courses and I was able to do that really well.”

There’s a lesson in here not only for McIlroy and other competitors, but those who pass judgment on them, too: Just because a player hasn’t accomplished something in the past, that doesn’t mean he can’t accomplish it going forward.

Mickelson proved that to us with his back-to-back links golf titles last year. McIlroy would love to emulate that specific feat.

Let’s not declare that such success is imminent based solely on an impressive opening round, but it was certainly a step in the right direction.

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Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

Masters victory

Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative

Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ

Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket

Man of the people

Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief

Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together

Ace at 17th at Sawgrass

Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018

Departure from TaylorMade

Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'

Victory at Valderrama

Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm
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Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

Well, this is a one new one.

According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.