Debate over McIlroy's game continues in Houston

By Jason SobelMarch 28, 2013, 10:47 pm

HUMBLE, Texas – Usually we journalists have to go searching for a story. Sometimes the story bumps into us.


I was walking through Redstone Golf Club, watching Rory McIlroy stumble to a 1-over 73 in the Shell Houston Open first round, when I ran into a pair of local golf fans who were both pretty knowledgeable about the young superstar, but owned totally dissenting viewpoints.

Optimistic Ollie and Pessimistic Pete are vocal and passionate about what’s going on with McIlroy and how it may affect him going forward. Armed with a few cold beverages – Ollie’s was half-full; Pete’s was half-empty – the two of them debated for 18 holes while I let my tape recorder take it all in.

Shell Houston Open: Articles, videos and photos

Video: McIlroy's up-and-down Round 1

OO: “Y’all are constantly analyzing this boy to the point where when he hits a good shot he’s terrific and when he hits a poor one he’s terrible. This ain’t air traffic control – he doesn’t need to be perfect all the time. Let him be.”

PP: “Hey, that’s his problem, not my problem. If he didn’t want to be analyzed so much, he should have thought about that before winning a few majors by eight strokes! We’re supposed to hold great players to higher standards, just like they’re supposed to hold themselves to higher standards. Answer this for me: What does Tiger Woods always say his main goal is before every tournament?”

OO: “Oh, this isn’t about…”

PP: “Oh, yes, it is! Tiger always says his main goal is to get a W. Yup, a win. That’s all that matters. Well, you know what Rory said his main goal was coming into this week?”

OO: “I have a feeling you’re going to tell me.”

PP: “I have the exact quote right here: ‘I guess getting into contention is the main goal, try to have a chance to win on Sunday.’ I guess?! Contention?! He sounds like a player who hopes he can win rather than one who knows he can win.”

OO: “Hold on a sec, here. Since when is Rory supposed to be the next Tiger?”

PP: “Since he won two majors by eight shots before he could shave!”

OO: “That’s funny – almost. But I’ve always likened Rory’s ups and downs to those of Phil Mickelson instead. When he’s hot, he’s hot; when he’s not, he’s not. He’s never going to be a consistent performer like Luke Donald or Matt Kuchar. You remember when he missed three straight cuts last May, don’t you?”

PP: “I sure do. He was awful.”

OO: “And you remember what happened after that, don’t you?”

PP: “Well, uh…”

OO: “Allow me to remind you. Three months later, he won the PGA Championship. Then he followed by winning three of his next eight starts and taking Player of the Year honors on both major tours. So instead of doggin’ the guy, slow your roll, as the kids his age say.”

PP: “No, you’re right. He’s a tremendous player. Which makes me so angry to walk that front nine today and watch him play like a 6-handicap.”

OO: “Whoa. Easy on us 6-handicaps…”

PP: “He was on the right side of the fairway, just 147 yards out on No. 2, but airmailed the green and made bogey. Great players don’t do that! And on the eighth – the par-5 eighth, no less – he flared one into the drink and made double. I mean, who doubles a par 5?”

OO: “OK, but then what? Did ya fall asleep at the turn? Great players understand how to keep rounds from getting away and that’s what he did.”

PP: “Yeah, I’m just surprised his tooth wasn’t hurting him today …”

OO: “Your tooth is gonna be hurting once I smack some sense into you. Since you seem to have forgotten, I’ll remind you that he birdied three of the next four holes to get back to even par.”

PP: “And then he bogeyed the next one!”

OO: “And then he birdied the next one!”

PP: “Hey, maybe he’d be more consistent if he didn’t go chasing the big bucks by signing with Nike. I’m no statistician, but breaking down the numbers, here’s my professional conclusion: Before Nike, he was really good. Ever since, not so much.”

OO: “Oh, come on. His specs are exactly the same as before. Maybe the new ball spins a little more at times or a little less at times, but don’t give me the whole “Nike’s equipment is inferior” bunk. Seems to be working alright for Tiger. Russell Henley and Thorbjorn Olesen have won this year, too. And next time Rory wins, I bet you’ll be the first guy putting new swoosh gear in your bag!”

PP: “Sure, but who knows when that will be?”

OO: “Well…”

PP: “Oh, don’t tell me you really think…”

OO: “But I do…”

PP: “You can’t…”

OO: “I can. I’m picking him to win the Masters.”

PP: “That’s funny. I don’t remember you walking around with a blindfold on all day, but you must not have seen everything I did.”

OO: “I saw everything I needed to see. His swing looks good, his putting is coming around and he’s working out all the kinks. With two weeks to go before Opening Day at Augusta National, he’ll be primed and ready for major No. 3.”

PP: “You sound like one of those cheesy Masters promos. But hey, just to prove I’m not all negative about our boy, I like him there, too.”

OO: “You think he’s going to win.”

PP: “Win? Haha, no. But he’s got a hell of a chance to make the cut – if that tooth isn’t hurting too much. Now let’s go grab another drink. Mine is half-empty already.”

OO: “OK, but I’m good. Still half-full here.”

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 six 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 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."

Move over Lydia, a new Ko is coming to LPGA

By Randall MellNovember 22, 2017, 5:11 pm

Another gifted young South Korean will be joining the LPGA ranks next year.

Jin Young Ko, the Korean LPGA Tour star, informed the American-based LPGA on Sunday night that she will be taking up membership next year. Ko earned the right by winning the LPGA’s KEB Hana Bank Championship as a nonmember in South Korea in October.

Ko, 22, no relation to Lydia Ko, first burst on to the international spotlight with her run into contention at the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Turnberry two years ago. She led there through 54 holes, with Inbee Park overtaking her in the final round to win.

With 10 KLPGA Tour titles, three in each of the last two seasons, Ko has risen to No. 19 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings.

Ko told Sunday afternoon that she was struggling over the decision, with a Monday deadline looming.

“It’s a difficult decision to leave home,” Ko said after the final round of the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, when she was still undecided. “The travelling far away, on my own, the loneliness, that’s what is difficult.”

Ko will be the favorite to win the LPGA’s Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Award next year. South Koreans have won that award the last three years. Sung Hyun Park won it this year, In Gee Chun last year and Sei Young Kim in 2015. South Korean-born players have won the last four, with New Zealand’s Lydia Ko winning it in 2014. Ko was born in South Korea and moved to New Zealand when she was 6.

Ko released this statement through the LPGA on Wednesday: 

"It has been my dream since I was young to play on the LPGA Tour and I look forward to testing myself against the best players on a worldwide stage. I know it is going to be tough but making a first win as an LPGA member and winning the Rolex Rookie of the Year award would be two of the biggest goals I would like to achieve next year."