McIlroy's 2013 'a lot better' after win in Oz

By Ryan LavnerDecember 1, 2013, 1:33 pm

Rory McIlroy may have apologized to the fans Sunday for spoiling Adam Scott’s bid for the Australian triple crown, but make no mistake: His deep exhale after holing the winning putt on the 72nd hole showed just how much this drought-busting victory truly meant to him.

“It’s frustrating, because you know the level of golf you can play but you just aren’t able to play at that level,” McIlroy told reporters afterward, via The Age in Australia. “You’re working hard, you’re trying to find the reasons why … It’s frustrating, but I never lost belief. Golf is a long career, I’m 24 years old, and I can get a bit impatient at times. If I take a step back and look at the big picture, it hasn’t been too bad of a year. It’s been made a lot better with this win.”

No kidding. In a year of unflattering headlines, this one should give McIlroy a spark heading into 2014.

His year got off to a rocky start, when in his highly anticipated season debut he missed the cut in Abu Dhabi. Instead of playing early and often to break in his new Nike equipment, McIlroy instead played only four events by the time April rolled around, a scheduling decision he eventually admitted was wrong. 

Though he placed second in San Antonio, he didn’t finish better than 25th in any of the year’s first three majors. He tied for eighth at the PGA Championship, but he still bowed out early in the FedEx Cup playoffs. Along the way, there was also a much-criticized walk-off at the Honda Classic, a bent club at the U.S. Open, a split with his management company (trial date October 2014) and constant rumors about his relationship status with tennis star Caroline Wozniacki.

It was a stark contrast to a year ago, when the beloved world No. 1 won five times worldwide and captured Player of the Year honors on both sides of the pond. 

But for as lost as he had looked at times this season, McIlroy was clearly rounding into the form just as the year began to draw to a close. His run started with a T-2 at the OneAsia Tour’s Kolon Korean Open, and he followed that up with back-to-back top-6 finishes at the WGC-HSBC Champions and DP World Tour Championship in Dubai. 

He was still winless, yes, but he had displayed enough good form that Tiger Woods, among others, predicted that the 24-year-old would get off the schneid by the time the calendar flipped to 2014. 

Woods proved prophetic, if only because Scott’s putter stopped cooperating on the back nine Sunday at Royal Sydney. There was a two-shot swing on the final hole – McIlroy sank a 15-footer for birdie, Scott bogeyed after sailing his approach over the green – and the former world No. 1 avoided his first winless season since 2008. He’s still scheduled to play in Woods’ tournament next week in California. 

“You have to go through the lows, and I’m not saying it was a low this year because it’s not like I have plummeted off the face of the earth,” McIlroy said, according to the report. “I’m still sixth in the world, so it’s not that bad. It’s not the level I feel like I can play to, but I feel like I’m getting back there.” 

Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

Leaderboard: Cameron Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Jason Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

What it means: Jordan Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.

Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Web.com Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday. 

Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.

Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia

By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 2:32 am

SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.

But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''

Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.

The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his Web.com card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''

NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.

Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

"He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

"I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

"From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

"And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

"There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."