McIlroy manages high expectations

By Jason SobelMarch 5, 2015, 11:51 pm

DORAL, Fla – It was right around the time Rory McIlroy was tapping in for a double bogey to complete his first nine holes of the WGC-Cadillac Championship on Thursday with a big, fat 40 that I started thinking about something he said during his pre-tournament news conference one day earlier: “I know going into this week where my game is. So even if things maybe don't go my way at some point during the round, I'll know how to manage it a little bit better.”

It was right around the time he was bouncing back with an eagle and three birdies in his next eight holes to quickly steer himself in the right direction that I recalled something else he’d mentioned prior to the first round: “I feel in a better place and probably a little more prepared than I was last week.”

And it was right around the time he’d finished with a bogey and trudged toward the scoring area at Trump National Doral to sign for a 1-over 73 and faced a media throng inquiring what went so wrong on the heels of last week’s missed cut that I considered his reaction to such scrutiny: “I realize what's expected of me. I expect a lot from myself.”


WGC-Cadillac Championship: Articles, videos and photos


On a blustery day at the Blue Monster, McIlroy’s opening round might have been a little more roller coaster-ish than most others in the 73-man field, but the end result was actually better than the median. He is tied for 27th place and his score was a half-stroke better than the average. J.B. Holmes’ pacesetting 62 aside – one which had players wondering whether he’d played the right Doral track – McIlroy is only seven strokes out of second place with 54 holes remaining, hardly a death knell for a player capable of going so low on a course where major swings are almost built into the landscape.

Even so, there was a sense afterward that something might be wrong with his game, that whatever mercurial talents had led to him winning each of the last two major championships had somehow vanished in the early hours of this season.

That notion, of course, is a mistaken one, but it’s also understandable. For two decades now, Tiger Woods has dealt with the weight of expectations from both himself and the world around him. We can even argue that it’s the burden of those expectations which has led to the current state of his game. After all, it’s impossible to clear the bar when it’s been set considerably too high.

That’s another column for another day, though. This one is about McIlroy and his ability to – at the still-young age of 25 – not just deal with such lofty expectations, but address them directly and understand them fully. If any other player had posted a score of 1-over 73 in tough conditions – and there were a dozen total for the day – then answered questions about what went wrong, he might be apt to respond with all of the things which went right instead.

It’s also not as if McIlroy hasn’t dealt with these interrogations before. That opening-nine 40? It was his first since last year – a year when he won four times worldwide, sure, but also one during which he posted eight nine-hole splits in the 40s, an eye-popping number for a player of his accolades.

All of which should serve as a reminder that his Thursday score was nothing to worry about. In fact, for a player who is at best head and shoulders above the rest of his competition on any given week and at worst inconsistent and streaky, this was really par for the course – even if the final scorecard showed 1 over.

Don’t take my word for it, though. Just ask the guy who knows that with greater success comes greater expectations.

“Shooting 1 over par out there today isn't too bad,” he said. “It's obviously not what I wanted, but no reason to panic and no reason to be alarmed. Just go out tomorrow and put some red numbers on the board and try and get myself back in it.”

There is still plenty of time, of course. The player who preaches patience even under intense scrutiny knows this. He knows it just comes with the territory.

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Angela hits Sergio in stride on field at Superdome

By Grill Room TeamDecember 18, 2017, 3:22 pm

Sergio and Angela Garcia's super 2017 keeps getting more ... Super ... Dome. (+1 awful blog lede.)

The couple started the year with Sergio's win at the Masters, then embarked on a whirlwind green jacket media tour, then kicked off El Clasico, then attended Wimbledon, then got married, then announced they were expecting their first child ...


2017 Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia


And now, they're throwing each other passes on the New Orleans Saints' home turf at the Superdome.

Man, it must be so cool do that at the Silverdome. ... ... ... I'm sorry, it is the Superdome, brothers.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title


Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open


Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59


Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63


Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut


Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club


Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth


The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ


Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year


And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season

Article: Thomas caps torrid 12-month run with CJ Cup win


Photo Galleries: Best of ...

Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

Best of: Justin Thomas through the years

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 12:30 pm

Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.