McIlroy (73) has ups and downs on Day 1 at Doral

By Jay CoffinMarch 7, 2013, 8:18 pm

DORAL, Fla. – Rory McIlroy is a lot of things. Resilient may top the list.

The world No. 1 didn’t play like a top-ranked player, but he played as well as we’ve seen him play this year. Not sure if it’s progress, but it certainly wasn’t regression.

We’ve seen McIlroy miss the cut in Abu Dhabi, exit after the first round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play and WD last week at the Honda Classic smack in the middle of Round 2.

So with a guarantee of playing four complete rounds at Doral – barring anything freakish – McIlroy set out to ditch the massive pressure he’d put on his broad shoulders and have fun again, like he did as a youngster growing up in Holywood, Northern Ireland.

Not sure the round could be described as pleasant, but it didn’t seem to be packed with pressure either.

WGC-Cadillac Championship: Articles, videos and photos

Video: Woods, McIlroy Round 1 highlights

McIlroy shot 1-over-par 73 Thursday playing alongside Tiger Woods and Luke Donald. He made an eagle, three birdies and six bogeys on a day where his score could’ve been much, much worse. He worked hard to shoot the score and is tied for 50th, seven shots behind leaders Woods, Freddie Jacobson, Sergio Garcia, Graeme McDowell and Bubba Watson.

Statistics were terrible, which speaks to McIlroy’s ability to grind out a score while still feeling uncomfortable over the ball. He only hit 3-of-14 fairways (none on his last nine holes), 11-of-18 greens and took 31 strokes with the short stick.

Not a recipe for rebound.

“It was a bit of a struggle to be honest,” McIlroy said. “Hit some good shots, hit some not so good shots. I’ve got another three rounds here to try and work on it a bit more and shoot a few good scores and we’ll see what happens.”

Seemed like McIlroy put a lot of undue stress on himself, which is contrary to the concept of trying to play pressure-free golf.

McIlroy made back-to-back bogeys on Nos. 13 and 14 – he began his round on the 10th hole. He blew his tee shot left on the par-3 13th and hit his chip shot to 8 feet and missed the putt. Similar situation on the par-4 14th came when his approach shot was left of the green. He chipped to 10 feet to miss the putt and get to 2 over par after the first five holes.

An eagle on the first hole was timely and brought McIlroy back to even par but he bogeyed the next three holes, two of them with three-putts. To his credit he birdied the seventh and eighth holes to salvage 73.

“It was nice to sneak in a couple birdies on the last three holes and make it look somewhat respectable, even though everyone seems to be going pretty low out there today,” McIlroy said. “I wasn’t putting that much pressure on myself and that’s why I didn’t get as frustrated. If I had played like that last week, I would have been not so happy but as I said, I understand that it’s a work in progress and I’m still working at it and it will come together pretty soon.”

Count Woods as a believer that McIlroy’s return to form will happen soon. The two were fairly chatty for most of the round – Woods had nine birdies, he had plenty to be pleased with – and admitted later that he and McIlroy have chatted about the latter’s game. Woods wouldn’t say what they discussed, but said they’ve talked.

“I don’t think he’s quite drawing the ball like he used to,” Woods diagnosed. “Maybe just a little bit defensive out there. And that happens, and we have all gone through stretches like this. It happened to him last year in the middle of the year, and ended up all right at the end of the year.

“When you play golf and you play golf for a very long time, you’re going to have spells like this. You can’t play well every week, even though you try. You’re going to have ups-and-downs and just got to battle through it.”

Getty Images

Watch: Tiger's drive startles strolling duck

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 25, 2018, 7:21 pm

Tiger Woods split the eighth fairway with a 287-yard, 3-wood on Sunday and startled a duck (goose?) who was merely out and about for a stroll at PGA National.

The duck (goose?) walked away under its own power, and Woods followed up with a wedge to inside 9 feet and his third birdie of the front nine.

Getty Images

Watch: Tiger's Sunday birdies at the Honda

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 25, 2018, 6:40 pm

One day after he left a barrage of birdie opportunities out on the golf course, Tiger Woods worked his way into red figures early on Sunday.

Seven off the pace to start the day, Woods found the first fairway, hit the first green and rolled in a 20-footer for his firist birdie of the day.

After narrowly missing a 10-footer for what would have been another circle at the par-5 third, Woods came right back at the fourth, flying an approach from 148 yards to 9 feet and finishing the job.

At the par-4 eighth, Woods went with 3-wood off the tee and startled a duck that was walking down the middle of the fairway.

The duck walked away, and Tiger stuffed his approach inside nine feet, setting up his third birdie of the day.

Woods dropped his first shot of the day at the par-4 ninth after hooking his tee and then short siding himself right of the green. He made the turn in 2-under 33.

(More coming...)

Getty Images

New-look Korda wins after serious jaw surgery

By Will GrayFebruary 25, 2018, 6:31 pm

If the pictures of Jessica Korda from the Honda LPGA Thailand cause you to do a double-take, you're not alone.

Korda's world-class talent was on full display this week in Asia, where she won by four shots, but so too was her new-look face. The 24-year-old underwent serious jaw surgery in December, a final attempt to address a significant overbite that led to ailments ranging from facial cramping to headaches to sleep apnea.

The procedure was intense. Doctors first broke her nose, then broke her jaw in five different places - three on the top, and two on the bottom. She now has 27 screws in her face, and the physical result still requires some adjustment for a woman who now has five career LPGA wins.

"I look at pictures of myself and I don't feel like I look like that person," Korda told Golfweek. "I don't know who that is. And then I look at pictures of my old self and that doesn't look like me either."

Full-field scores from the Honda LPGA Thailand

The Dec. 7 surgery left Korda unable to eat, with her mother reportedly feeding her through a syringe for "weeks." Korda's facial structure before the surgery was such that she was only using 20 percent of her teeth when chewing food.

But despite returning to practice only six weeks ago and still dealing with lingering numbness in her face, Korda promptly dusted a world-class field in her first start back. She shot 25 under for the week, highlighted by a second-round 62, leaving the likes of Lexi Thompson and Ariya Jutanugarn in her wake.

After a difficult winter, Korda's look may have changed but her game clearly remains unaffected.

"Coming in after surgery, I didn't know what to expect," Korda told reporters. "Obviously when I look at myself, I still don't feel like I look like myself yet. That will come. I'm just very, very happy. All the hard work I was putting in in the off-season when I could has paid off rather quickly."

Getty Images

Tiger Tracker: Honda Classic

By Tiger TrackerFebruary 25, 2018, 4:45 pm

Tiger Woods is making his third start of the year at the Honda Classic. We're tracking him at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.