McIlroy pens another dominating performance

By Jason SobelNovember 25, 2012, 6:38 pm

With an indisputable No. 1 atop the list of Best Golfers in the World, leaving the rest of the global population battling for position somewhere below, the greatest competition in golf may now be found in the form of players, media and fans attempting to climb and writhe their way past each other in choosing the perfect superlative for him.

Some will call Rory McIlroy 'mercurial' in the wake of his five-birdie finish to win the DP World Tour Championship on Sunday. Others will label him 'commanding' for a season that concludes with him not only first in the Official World Golf Ranking, but sweeping both the PGA Tour and European money lists.

Justin Rose, whose course-record 62 was only good enough for second place, opted to call the performance “class.” Luke Donald, who played alongside McIlroy in the final round, went with “amazing.” Their fellow Ryder Cup teammates Francesco Molinari and Nicolas Colsaerts respectively chose “inspirational” and “unreal.”

Good news: There are no losers in this competition, other than those unwilling to recognize Rory’s current superiority. (If such people actually do exist, they’re clearly failing the ever-discerning eyeball test.)

The struggle for suitable superlatives should sound familiar, because it wasn’t so long ago that Tiger Woods was garnering similar attention. Comparisons and contrasts between Woods in his 1996-2009 form and McIlroy right now come fast and easy, even if the latter blanches at such correlations. They are alike in that both players have warranted excessive expectations, only to exceed them. They are dissimilar in that Woods often owned a propensity to win with something less than his “A” game. McIlroy will miss more cuts and play to a more mediocre level when he doesn’t have his best stuff, but when he does everyone else is usually playing for second place.

Maybe it’s splitting hairs, but those trying to apply specific adjectives to each player could label Tiger 1.0 as more “consistent” while Rory takes the edge in “torridness.” In either case, both descriptions lead to each being called “dominant,” which conjures the main theme here.

Golf has officially reentered the Thesaurus Era.

What it means is that much like competitors striving to keep pace with McIlroy, anyone wishing to chronicle his accomplishments had better come stronger than lame attempts such as “good” or “great” or the always inexcusable “words can’t even describe it.”

Here’s what we know about Rory’s recent run: Starting with the PGA Championship in August, his worldwide results table shows 1-24-1-1-10-2-3-MC-1. That's a winning percentage of 44.4 – or an even 50 if we include Ryder Cup, where he compiled a 3-2-0 record during Europe’s triumph.

Golf is an inherently cyclical game. What separates the elite from the rest of the pack is not only physical, mental and technical gifts, but often the ability to rebound from low points with aplomb, in effect limiting the ramification of such a cycle. It should be noted that McIlroy’s victory in Dubai came exactly one week after missing the cut in Hong Kong while referring to himself as “lethargic.”

If winning two of the last seven major championships by a pair of eight-stroke differentials isn’t enough to prove his worth, then bouncing back in resounding fashion should at least assist the notion of his supremacy.

Here’s what we don’t know about Rory’s recent run: Whether it will continue in 2013 and beyond. McIlroy has decided to eschew longtime equipment sponsor Titleist, which has drawn reaction ranging from those calling it a very dangerous decision to others claiming it won’t be an issue – and everything in between.

While it can’t be argued that he isn’t simply chasing the almighty dollar (or pound, as the case may be) with this impending move, we should likewise observe the quiet bravado it takes from a player to reach his sport’s pinnacle, then trust himself to remain atop that plateau despite such a monumental change.

If he does, the superlative game will endure next season and beyond, so many people attempting to climb and writhe past each other in their analysis of McIlroy’s preeminence. This isn’t a new period in the game. We witnessed the Thesaurus Era not so long ago, but the target of such descriptions has been indisputably altered.

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Watch: Daly makes birdie from 18-foot-deep bunker

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 11:14 pm

John Daly on Friday somehow got up and down for birdie from the deepest bunker on the PGA Tour.

The sand to the left of the green on the 16th hole at the Stadium Course at PGA West sits 18 feet below the surface of the green.

That proved no problem for Daly, who cleared the lip three times taller than he is and then rolled in a 26-footer.

He fared just slightly better than former Speaker of the House, Tip O'Neill.

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Koepka (wrist) likely out until the Masters

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 9:08 pm

Defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is expected to miss at least the next two months because of a torn tendon in his left wrist.

Koepka, who suffered a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU), is hoping to return in time for the Masters.

In a statement released by his management company, Koepka said that doctors are unsure when the injury occurred but that he first felt discomfort at the Hero World Challenge, where he finished last in the 18-man event. Playing through pain, he also finished last at the Tournament of Champions, after which he underwent a second MRI that revealed the tear.

Koepka is expected to miss the next eight to 12 weeks.

“I am frustrated that I will now not be able to play my intended schedule,” Koepka said. “But I am confident in my doctors and in the treatment they have prescribed, and I look forward to teeing it up at the Masters. … I look forward to a quick and successful recovery.”

Prior to the injury, Koepka won the Dunlop Phoenix and cracked the top 10 in the world ranking. 

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Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup

By Rex HoggardJanuary 19, 2018, 7:09 pm

In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.

Made Cut

Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.

Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.

“If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.

“The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

September can’t get here quick enough.

Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.

There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.

In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.

“I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage.”

The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”

Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.

Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.

The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.

The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.

“My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.

Missed Cut

Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.

After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.

It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.

Tweet of the week:

It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”

The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.

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Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.