McIlroy quit and there is no excuse for that

By Jason SobelMarch 1, 2013, 5:25 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – We will find out more about Rory McIlroy’s mid-round withdrawal from the Honda Classic in coming days and weeks and months. We will find out what he wants us to find out, because he is the only one who knows exactly why, on his ninth hole of the day, standing at 7 over already and about to add to that, he shook hands with his playing partners and sped away from the premises.

For now, here’s what we know: His official medical reason for withdrawing was “sore wisdom tooth,” which affected his concentration. We also know this: Before leaving, he told a few reporters, “There’s not really much I can say, guys. I’m not in a good place mentally, you know?”

As one fan tweeted in reaction, perhaps he meant to claim he’s not in a good place dentally.

Whatever the case – whether it really was a toothache or he wasn’t in a good place mentally or one led to the other – chances are we’ll learn plenty about his reasoning, since the game’s No. 1-ranked player has always been honest about his thoughts and opinions.

And he deserves a little honesty from us right now, too.

So here it is: Rory, you do not, ever, under any circumstances, pack up and go home simply because things aren’t going your way.

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This is beyond poor form. This is quitting. This is John Daly territory. This is the absolute opposite of what we expect and demand from our superstars.

“I'm a great fan of Rory's,” playing partner Ernie Els said afterward, “but I don't think that was the right thing to do.”

The comparisons may not be fair, but they’ll come fast and furious on the heels of McIlroy’s toothy situation. Ben Hogan got hit by a Greyhound bus and continued competing at a high level. Tiger Woods won a U.S. Open on a broken leg. Hell, just a few weeks ago, a woman named Daniela Holmqvist received a poisonous spider bite during a qualifier for the Women’s Australian Open, only to extract the venom with a tee and keep on playing.

The golf course may not be a rugged gridiron or a blood-spattered boxing ring, but we still want our best players to be tough. We want them to suck it up during the lean times. Take their lumps, get through it and move on.

Even if McIlroy was in pain, it wasn’t a pain that inhibited his swing. Bad back? Fine. Creaky knee? OK. But unless he was considering anchoring a putter to his lips, there’s no physical reason he couldn’t continue for another nine-and-a-half holes before heading home for a dentist’s consultation. The truth is, his wisdom tooth probably wouldn’t have felt so painful if he was about to make the turn in 4 under.

Think about it: Instead of riding off in shame after an opening eight holes that included a triple-bogey, a double-bogey, two bogeys and what was going to be another big number on the 18th hole, McIlroy could have taken those lumps, told us exactly why he posted an 83 or so, then explained why it was so important for him to keep going, even though he didn’t want to.

Because he’s a role model. Because he wants to maintain his image. Because he doesn’t want to be construed as a quitter.

If he stuck around, he could choose his own ending for this story, rather than leaving it in our hands to theorize about why he chose to leave.

And yes, plenty of conspiracy theories abound. One states that Rory is clearly confounded by his new Nike equipment, which could partially account for his issues. It hardly explains how a two-time major champion could almost immediately start resembling a 6-handicap, though.

Another is quick to point out that McIlroy’s longtime girlfriend, tennis star Caroline Wozniacki, suffered what Reuters termed “one of her worst career defeats” by losing to 186th-ranked Qiang Wang two days earlier. In a mental pursuit like golf – and, apparently, tennis – relationship troubles can affect the final result a lot more than a toothache.

That said, let’s be careful sounding the alarms and raising the red flags. Just nine months ago, McIlroy looked completely lost, languishing through a second-round 79 at The Memorial Tournament for a third consecutive missed cut. Any observer that day would have predicted long-term struggles for the youngster, but just a few months later he was putting the finishing touches on an eight-stroke PGA Championship victory before closing out the season as Player of the Year on both major tours.

None of that should serve as an excuse, though.

McIlroy offered his own explanation for walking off on Friday, but simply put, it wasn’t good enough. Every golfer owes it to the game, to the tournament and to himself to continue playing, unless there’s such a debilitating injury that he physically can’t do it. Toss in the fact that he’s ranked No. 1 and the defending champion and being marketed as a big-ticket draw for this event, and it only adds fuel to the fire that is steadily building toward him right now.

In the end, there’s a sense of irony in this situation. Rory McIlroy offered up a sore wisdom tooth as his reason for leaving mid-round, but the act of leaving mid-round itself is one devoid of any wisdom.

Day (68) just one back at Australian Open

By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.

Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)

What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.

Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.

Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.

Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’

Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open

Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

Lexi Thompson:

Baking time!!

A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

David Feherty:

Jack Nicklaus:

GC Tiger Tracker:

Steve Stricker:

Golf Channel:

Frank Nobilo:

Ian Poulter:

Tyrone Van Aswegen:

Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.