McIlroy, G-Mac say no bad blood, but may not partner

By Jason SobelSeptember 23, 2014, 5:55 pm

GLENEAGLES, Scotland – If we are to believe the insistences coming from Camp Europe, then we should understand that Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell still like each other. They still like each other enough to overcome the former pursuing a lawsuit against the latter’s current management company and that company pursuing a countersuit. They still like each other enough to coexist in the same team room all week. They still like each other, we must imagine, to hug and sing and dance and spray champagne on each other should the opportunity present itself come Sunday evening.

They just might not like each other quite enough to play together again.

Or maybe they do and the entire account is just wildly off-base speculation.

These are the types of stories which materialize in the early hours of a Ryder Cup week, ones which might have a semblance of timeliness and relevance to them, but may just as well have little bearing on the impending proceedings.

There is some juiciness to this one, though.

During his formative years as a young professional, McIlroy often looked toward his fellow Northern Irishman for mentorship and consultation. That relationship sparked a partnership. They played three matches together in 2010, finishing with a 1-1-1 record, and three more in 2012, going 1-2-0.


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But now, it could have an effect on whether they’ll tee it up together once the four team sessions begin Friday morning, despite persistent claims from all involved parties that there is no lingering palpable tension.

“There’s no doubt our personal issues have been well documented the last couple of years,” McDowell admitted. “And I believe that we’ve both come out of the other end of that probably better friends than we were going into it. Our personal issues are not a problem this weekend, so that’s a fact.”

Here’s the CliffsNotes version of the impending legal matters: When McIlroy left Horizon Sports Management to form his own management agency, his lawyers sued in part for claims that McDowell received preferential treatment. Not long after, Horizon countersued for breach of contract. Add in the gossipy tidbit that McDowell is a shareholder in the company, which means that in essence the two teammates are trying to get into each other’s pockets, and the entire process leaves a juicy subplot entering a week during which the European team has been renowned for its camaraderie.

Even so, everybody in the team room has been whistling the same happy tune.

“It's not an issue and it's not been an issue for me in terms of Ryder Cup captaincy over the last year – certainly since these court proceedings started,” team captain Paul McGinley stated. “Both of them have assured me all along that there's no issues, and that's the way I've always seen it.”

For anybody reading those words and waiting for the “but…” it came in reference to them once again being paired.

“Whether they come together or not is another story. Three or four months ago, I had a very strong view that they would have been, but the more I look at their statistics and the more I look at the different value I have with them, I'm thinking there may be a value in not doing it. But if I don't do it, it certainly won't be because of any issues. As both of them have said, there are no issues between them and both of them will be happy to play together. But it will be my decision ultimately.”

Among the massive sections of agate in this week’s Ryder Cup media guide is, unfortunately, no statistic showing how players have fared when paired together while embroiled in legal proceedings against each other. This would undoubtedly be a first in this 40th edition of the competition, but stranger things have happened over those years.

Even if it doesn’t, McDowell insists that we shouldn’t read anything more into it than an overflow of wealth on the European side, with so many players capable of teaming up with so many others.

“I would really embrace the opportunity to play perhaps foursomes with Rory at some point this weekend,” he said. “We are both up for it. Like Paul says, though, he feels like I could be best used somewhere else … and Rory certainly can play with anyone. So we might be best served apart. Who knows?”

Three days before the first meaningful shot of the week is struck, with the Gleneagles course ready to play host and so many pairings materializing so quickly, these are the types of stories which seem important right now.

Once it all begins, though, we’ll likely hear little about it. Heck, even two guys trying to get into each other’s pockets might still team up to get into those of their American counterparts.

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Fleetwood rallies to defend Abu Dhabi title

By Will GrayJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 pm

The 2018 European Tour season has begun just as the 2017 ended: with Tommy Fleetwood's name atop the standings.

Facing the most difficult conditions of the week, Fleetwood charged down the stretch to shoot a 7-under 65 in the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, good enough for a two-shot win and a successful title defense.

Abu Dhabi was the start of Fleetwood's resurgence a year ago, the first of two European Tour victories en route to the season-long Race to Dubai title. This time around the Englishman started the final round two shots off the lead but rallied with six birdies over his final nine holes to reclaim the trophy.

Fleetwood was five shots behind countryman Ross Fisher when he made made the turn, but he birdied the par-5 10th and then added four birdies in a five-hole stretch from Nos. 12-16. The decisive shot came on the final hole, when his pitch from the left rough nestled within a few feet of the hole for a closing birdie.

Fleetwood's 22-under total left him two shots ahead of Fisher and four shots clear of Rory McIlroy and Matthew Fitzpatrick. After entering the week ranked No. 18, Fleetwood is expected to move to at least No. 12 in the world when the new rankings are published.

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Garcia cruises to five-shot win in Singapore

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:10 pm

SINGAPORE - Sergio Garcia played 27 holes on the last day without dropping a shot to win the Singapore Open by five strokes Sunday in an ominous display of his newfound self-belief as he prepares to defend his Masters title.

Still brimming with confidence after claiming his first major title at Augusta National last year, Garcia started his new season with a runaway victory at the Sentosa Golf Club, finishing at 14-under 270.

Returning to the course just after dawn to complete his third round after play was suspended on Saturday because of lightning strikes, Garcia finished his last nine holes in 4 under for a round of 66 to take a one-shot lead into the final round.

With organizers desperate to avert the constant threat of more bad weather and finish the tournament on time, Garcia promptly returned to the first tee shortly after and fired a flawless 3-under 68, cruising to victory with 10 straight pars as his rivals floundered in the stifling humidity.

''It may have looked easy, but it wasn't easy. You still have to hit a lot of good shots out there,'' Garcia said. ''It's always great to start with a win, to do it here at this golf course against a good field in Asia on conditions that weren't easy. Hopefully I can ride on this momentum.''

Garcia's closest rivals at the end were Japan's Satoshi Kodaira (71) and South African Shaun Norris (70). Both birdied the last hole to share second spot but neither was ever close enough on the last day to challenge the leader.


Full-field scores from the Singapore Open


''I could not reach Sergio. I was thinking, 12 or 13 under for the win, but he went beyond that,'' Kodaira said.

Jazz Janewattananond (71) and his fellow Thai Danthai Bonnma (73) finished equal fourth at 8 under, earning themselves a spot in this year's British Open, while American Sean Crocker, who was given an invitation to the event after turning pro late last year, also won a place at Carnoustie by finishing in a tie for sixth.

Garcia made just three bogeys in 72 holes and his victory provided the 38-year-old with the 33rd title of his professional career and his sixth on the Asian Tour.

He has also won three titles in the last 12 months, including the Masters, and his game looks to be in better shape now than it was a year ago.

He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for Augusta National because of the steamy conditions and the testing stop-start nature of the tournament, which is regularly stopped because of inclement weather.

Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore a year ago, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

"I'm extremely happy with how the week went. It was a tough day and a tough week, with the stopping and going. Fortunately, the weather held on. Still, it was hard to play 27 holes under this heat and I can't wait to get a cold shower,'' Garcia said. ''I came with some good confidence and wishing that I will play well. I hit the ball solid the whole week and didn't miss many shots.''

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Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.


Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

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The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.