Punch Shot: Will McIlroy be fatigued at U.S. Open?

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 19, 2015, 10:00 pm

Rory McIlroy is competing in his fourth consecutive event at this week's BMW PGA Championship. He will also be playing next week's Irish Open, before taking a two-week hiatus ahead of the U.S. Open. Not only is McIlroy playing a lot leading up to the Open, he's consistenly in contention (win-T-8-win, in first three starts). Should there be a fatigue concern for McIlroy at Chambers Bay? Our writers weigh in.


It’s been 265 competitive holes and 7,166 miles flown for Rory McIlroy the last three weeks and the end is still not in sight with the world No. 1 two more starts (this week’s BMW PGA Championship and next week’s Irish Open) away from a much-needed break.

For some that hardly sounds like a recipe for success with next month’s U.S. Open looming, but let’s hold off on the armchair quarterbacking until the experiment is complete.

A golf public that has been conditioned that less is more by Tiger Woods’ dominance the last decade and a half will consider McIlroy’s current run – he’s playing his fourth of five consecutive events this week – dangerous at best.

“I told him he’s crazy,” said Gary Woodland, who lost to McIlroy in the finals at the WGC-Cadillac Match Play, where he began his marathon run.

While there will always be a concern that the Northern Irishman won’t have anything left in the tank when he arrives in the Pacific Northwest for the year’s second major, if his play last week at the Wells Fargo Championship, where he lapped the field by seven strokes, is any indication he’s not exactly running on fumes.


It’s not so much about whether Rory McIlroy will be fatigued going to the U.S. Open - he’ll have two weeks off leading into the year’s second major after this five-week blitz - it’s whether he’s spent when he gets to Chambers Bay, whether he peaked too early.

With his victories at the WGC-Cadillac Match Play Championship and Wells Fargo Championship, McIlroy’s on fire. He heads to the European Tour’s big event at the BMW PGA this week and then the Irish Open with terrific momentum, but it’s natural to wonder how long he can fan the flames. McIlroy’s on a run of big events where he’ll need those two weeks off to re-charge his batteries. The trick will be keeping those weeks off from becoming a cooling-off period.

McIlroy has a nice history of going on tears. He won three times over a five-week span in 2012 and three times in a four-week span last year. This five-week run he is on now could well end with three or four victories. With any hot run like that, there’s the danger of a letdown getting the rest he needs going to the U.S. Open. That’s what he’ll be guarding against.


Rory McIlroy is in the midst of a five-event run that will see him visit three countries and cross eighttime zones in 33 days. Forget for a moment that he’s 26 and in outstanding shape. That’s still a ton of golf for anybody.

But on a scale from Who Cares to Defcon 5, McIlroy’s whirlwind world tour hardly registers. Why? Because he’s been taking steps to minimize the workload, delaying his arrival at each of his past three tournaments to Wednesday. Plus, by skipping the Memorial, he’ll have two weeks off before the U.S. Open.

When he returns home to South Florida, McIlroy can (1) shelve the clubs for a few days to decompress; (2)return to the range and ramp up with a full week of practice; and then (3) fly to Seattle for a couple of weekend practice rounds at Chambers Bay before tournament week.

He won’t be rusty, because he just played five consecutive events. Nor will he be burnt out, because he just had two weeks off. Hmm, come to think of it, Rory’s actually sounds like the ideal schedule.


Haven’t we been through this exercise before with Rory McIlroy? Everyone was expecting a dip last summer as he tore through some of the summer’s biggest tournaments, but he never slowed down in completing a three-leg sweep from Liverpool to Akron to Louisville. At 26 years young, McIlroy can recover from a long stretch of play better than guys like Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson, and he will have two full weeks off before teeing it up at Chambers Bay.

This stretch of five straight events across two continents and three countries is a formidable slate, but it will only serve to sharpen McIlroy’s game heading into the U.S. Open – not that it needs much sharpening after his romp at Quail Hollow. He has taken similarly busy approaches to preparing for past majors, and he has done so with considerable success. Barring some sort of injury, there’s no reason to think he’ll run out of gas this time around. 

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Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 2:06 pm

New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.

The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.

"Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.

It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.

Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.

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Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore

By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2018, 12:56 pm

SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.

Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.

He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.

Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.

Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.

The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.

''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''

Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.

He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.

Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.

''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''

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13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.

Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.

“An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”

Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.

Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings. 

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McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.

Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

“I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

“Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014.