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.


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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.”

If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

You don’t believe it, though.

She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

“In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.


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There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

“I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

“She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

“She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

“Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

“It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

“No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

“I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”


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Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.

“He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.


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Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''