Time traveler: Recounting McIlroy's time-zone misadventure in '12 Ryder Cup

By Jason SobelSeptember 20, 2014, 1:05 pm

10:54 a.m. CT

There have already been a few missed calls to his phone on this morning of Sept. 30, 2012, but Rory McIlroy doesn’t think much of them until the knock on the door.

Already preparing for a Ryder Cup tee time that he believes is an hour and a half away, he is neither ruffled nor rushed. His mindset, he says later, is wholly on winning a full point against Keegan Bradley and helping Europe climb out of the 10-6 hole it had dug over the first two days.

On Saturday afternoon, he had been reduced to merely a dazzled onlooker as teammate Ian Poulter birdied the final five holes to win their fourballs match. Before leaving the course a little while afterward, he checked his Sunday tee time: 12:25 p.m., it read. Plenty of time to sleep in before he needed to get to Medinah Country Club.

Until that knock on the door.

“It's one of the girls from the European Tour,” he recalls two years later. “They're like, ‘You need to go. You're going to miss your tee time.’ I was panicked.  I was sort of half-dressed. I was just getting ready. They're like, ‘Look, we'll take care of everything else. We'll take your suit for the closing ceremony. We'll get all that stuff sorted. But there's a police car waiting for you downstairs. You need to get in that and go.’”

Photos: 2012 Ryder Cup final day

That 12:25 p.m. tee time? It was listed in Eastern Time. But Chicago, of course, is located in the Central Time Zone. He has about 30 minutes to make his tee time.

10:58 a.m. CT

Fully dressed and fully panicked, McIlroy walks out of the lobby of his hotel and directly into the squad car of Chicago Police officer Pat Rollins.

Had he wanted to, had he chosen the route of American hero and rationalized that the department motto of “We Serve and Protect” didn’t apply to Europeans who were late for their Ryder Cup tee times, Rollins could have elected to let McIlroy fend for himself. Chances are, with traffic, he never would have made it.

Instead, Rollins welcomes the golfer into his squad car and blares the sirens. The usual 25-minute trip to Medinah takes only 15.

“I would have done the same thing for an American player,” the officer would later say. “We were their hosts; they stayed in our community. The Ryder Cup was to be played on the course, not on the road.”

11:13 a.m. CT

By now an incident of international proportions, cameras are rolling as McIlroy makes his long-awaited and much-curious arrival at the golf course.

He quickly thanks Rollins and begins thinking about the match – the match for which he had all morning to prepare and is now racing toward without any preparation.

“Once I got there and knew I was going to make it,” he explains, “I was just saying, ‘Let's try and keep it together for the first six holes, like keep it to all square or even just 1 down or something, but just try to keep it tight for the first six.’”

11:15 a.m. CT

Any casual golfer who has rushed from work to catch a quick nine holes before dark can sympathize with what happened next.

Ten minutes before one of the biggest tee times in his life, McIlroy is furiously changing his shoes in the locker room.

11:19 a.m. CT

Now six minutes before that time, he hits a few chips and rolls a few putts on the practice green.

“I tried to hit a couple of chips and a couple of putts to sort of calm myself down,” he says. “Didn't work.”

No time to hit any full shots on the driving range, no time to check out the pin sheet, no time to strategize his way around the course.

11:23 a.m. CT

After the most whirlwind half-hour of his life, McIlroy arrives at the first tee. His opponent, Bradley, asks if everything is all right, but McIlroy can barely hear him over the partisan crowd.

Word had gotten out. The story had been told. McIlroy’s explanation for showing up late is already making international headlines by the time he reaches this point.

The massive galleries surrounding Medinah’s first tee know all about it. And so when he finally, at the last minute, shows up with a sheepish smile in between huffs of relieved sighs, they serenade him with an appropriate chant.


11:25 a.m. CT

With his first full swing since Saturday afternoon’s fourballs match, McIlroy misses the fairway to the right.

Not optimal, but all things considered, it’s not awful, either.

11:36 a.m. CT

After missing the green, McIlroy nearly chips in for birdie.

His par is conceded and when Bradley matches that score, all the frayed nerves and anxiety of the morning begin to fade.

12:41 p.m. CT

Focusing on just keeping it close for the first six holes, McIlroy does much better.

A birdie on the sixth puts him 2 up early on – and more importantly, it keeps him from further embarrassment.

“After that, I was calmed down,” he recalls. “Able to get into some sort of rhythm. Then I was like, ‘Well, this is actually OK.’”

3:19 p.m. CT

Unpredictably, unexpectedly, McIlroy never trails in the match.

When Bradley misses his birdie attempt on the 17th hole, it’s over. The match is a 2-and-1 victory for McIlroy, one of five full points for Europe in the first five matches.

3:20 p.m. CT

Finally able to breathe a sigh of relief, McIlroy takes a bow.

“It was the best golf I played of the whole week,” he says now. “I shot 65 or 66. I was 6 under par for the match. I beat Keegan, who was arguably one of the best players for the U.S. team that week.”

He has not only absolved himself of infinite boneheadedness in sporting lore, he has helped put his team in position for an improbable comeback.

8:37 p.m. CT

Nearly 10 hours after McIlroy rushed from his hotel room to a patrol car to the course to the first tee, he attends a news conference with his victorious teammates, attempting to explain exactly what happened.

Some of them laugh. A few mutter well-intentioned needling under their breath. The team’s captain, Jose Maria Olazabal, just shakes his head in disbelief.

“In a way, it wasn't a bad thing because I didn't have time to think about it,” McIlroy says. “I still would have liked to have gotten here sooner, but I delivered my point for the team, and that was the most important thing.

“I was like, ‘Just get me there, get me there.’”

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Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore

By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2018, 12:56 pm

SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.

Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.

He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.

Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.

Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.

The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.

''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''

Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.

He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.

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

Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.

''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''

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13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.

Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.

“An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”

Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.

Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings. 

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McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.

Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

“I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

“Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014. 

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Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

"A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

"If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."