McIlroy contending despite quadruple-bogey

By Jason SobelMay 31, 2012, 6:02 pm

DUBLIN, Ohio – You can watch plenty of elite golfers compete in plenty of tournaments without ever witnessing the scene that unfolded Thursday morning on the 12th hole at Muirfield Village.

With his tee shot on the par-3, Rory McIlroy found the back-left greenside bunker, which doesn’t sound too awful until you consider the severe downhill slope on the green running away from him and toward an adjacent creek. Uncharacteristically, though perhaps not surprisingly, McIlroy’s bunker shot hit the green, then kept rolling … and rolling … and rolling … all the way into the water hazard.

And so, with no acceptable place from which to take a drop, the world’s second-ranked player instead took a stroll all the way back to the front teebox, stopping only to inquire of a golf writer: “Do you see a drop zone over there?”

(Note to aspiring professional golfers: If you ever need to know where a drop zone is, consult a golf writer.)

A drop, a chunked wedge, another bunker pitch and two putts later, McIlroy trudged off the hole – just his third of the Memorial Tournament opening round – with an unsightly quadruple-bogey. The rest of his opening nine holes didn’t go much better. He made back-to-back birdies, but also lost two more balls in the water en route to a 3-over 39.

It was almost enough to sound the alarms from across the pond. Coming off consecutive missed cuts at The Players Championship and the BMW PGA Championship – flagship events on the PGA Tour and European Tour, respectively – McIlroy has been hearing critical whispers about his dedication to the craft.

He isn’t working hard enough. He’s spreading himself too thin by playing both tours. He’s spending too much time globetrotting with his tennis pro girlfriend.

This is a classic case of not letting the facts get in the way of a good story. The facts are that his work ethic is what elevated him to his current status; he’s been traversing the globe playing competitive tournaments since he was a teenager; and being in love has never directly correlated to making bogeys.

Instead, McIlroy is a victim of the 'superstar conundrum,' which can be clearly defined thusly: The more success someone earns, the more scrutiny he receives for not earning even more success. Consider it the ultimate Catch-22 for anyone who has achieved certain accomplishments in his given field.

“I think that is the way of life in anything if you're in the spotlight, you're in the public eye,” McIlroy said. “If I'd have missed two cuts in a row a couple years ago, no one would have batted an eyelid, but nowadays it's a little different.”

No golfer – heck, perhaps no athlete in the world – has been the subject of as much armchair analysis over the last few years as Tiger Woods, who understands what McIlroy has been enduring as of late.

“Obviously the criticism or scrutiny is because he's been so consistent over the last six, eight months,” said Woods, who posted an opening-round 2-under 70. “He's not just playing in the States. He's not just playing in Europe. He's playing all over the world, and he's playing at a high level for a very long time. People's expectations obviously are increased.”

As part of the conundrum, Rory was on the verge of facing even more scrutiny with his third straight missed cut after those opening nine holes, except he quelled any speculation nearly before it ever began, posting a 4-under 32 on the course’s front side – his second nine of the day – to somewhat miraculously shoot a 1-under 71 that left him five shots off first-round leader Scott Stallings.

The clear turning point came on the par-5 fifth hole. Just moments after impact on his drive, McIlroy shouted, “Fore left!” and pointed in that general vicinity. As it turned out, his ball wasn’t very far off line, hanging up in the left rough. Two shots later, he was chipping in for an eagle that minutes earlier had seemed as unlikely as posting an under-par score did following that quadruple-bogey.

“After the last few weeks, I was just like, here we go again,” he said. “But I hung in there well, am proud of myself for the way I just fought back. To finish the round under par I thought was a really good effort.”

Therein lies the reason for the scrutiny, the entire principle behind the 'superstar conundrum.' The expectations placed on McIlroy are based on the fact that with a U.S. Open triumph and five other professional victories, he deserves them. It’s the very reason why players who have achieved lesser amounts of success aren’t as heavily criticized.

On Thursday, he proved once again that critical analysis is hardly a deterrent of success. If McIlroy can claim the title come Sunday, he may not be the first player with a quadruple-bogey on his card to win, but he most certainly would be the first whose week commenced with a long walk back to the teebox after his second shot on a par-3 hole.

Just call it the ultimate comeback.

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Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test

By Will GrayDecember 12, 2017, 11:30 pm

One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.

Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.

"I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."

Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.

"I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.

Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.

"Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."

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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