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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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.

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Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.


A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.