Now McIlroy can begin healing process

By John FeinsteinMay 21, 2014, 9:00 pm

The only thing harder than figuring out how to deal with love is figuring out how to deal with love with the whole world watching.

In all, Rory McIlroy and Caroline Wozniacki did a pretty good job.

Both are very public figures. Both have been ranked No. 1 in the world: McIlroy in golf, Wozniacki in tennis. Both knew they were going to be subjected to constant public scrutiny from the minute they started dating three years ago. He was 22, she was just turning 20. She had already been No. 1 in her world; he was on his way to that ranking in his.

For a while it was fairy-tale stuff. But real life isn’t a fairy tale. Only on rare occasions do people live happily ever after. Which is why, after a year of rumored break-ups and an announced engagement, it wasn’t shocking when McIlroy said Wednesday that there would be no wedding.

“The wedding invitations issued at the weekend made me realize I wasn’t ready for all that marriage entails,” he said in a statement.

A few hours later, McIlroy showed up, as scheduled, for his pre-tournament news conference at the BMW PGA Championship and answered questions awkwardly and sadly for a few minutes. There’s little doubt that he’s torn up by the decision. There’s also little doubt that he gave it a great deal of thought.

The break-up, five months after the engagement, appears to the culmination of a turbulent 18 months in the life of a young athlete who is learning on the job how to deal with stardom.

Late in 2012, McIlroy appeared to have everything, in what had already been a remarkable career and life, under control. He had just won his second major title – each by eight shots – and had played on a winning Ryder Cup team for the second time. He was the No. 1-ranked player in the world and he was dating a glamorous tennis player who – like him – seemed comfortable in the spotlight.

McIlroy calls off engagement to Wozniacki

And then, very quickly, things began to slide. He fired his agent, the experienced Chubby Chandler, and replaced him with a group that was as new to the ways of celebrity as Chandler was an old hand at them. Almost instantly the new agents made a much-ballyhooed deal with Nike, which was looking for a new young golf superstar to add to its stable with Tiger Woods’ golf future appearing uncertain.

McIlroy took the money and his game went south almost before the ink on the contract was dry. He was certainly not the first golfer to change equipment in return for mega-dollars or the first to do it and struggle with his game. But he did it while he was the No. 1 player in the world.

For the first time in his life, McIlroy began to make mistakes off the course. The player who had handled a Sunday meltdown at Augusta with extraordinary grace walked off the golf course during the second round of the Honda Classic because he was embarrassed by and frustrated with his game. His new handlers made it worse by claiming he had a toothache. McIlroy later admitted the toothache had nothing to do with the walk-off but the memory of the botched handling of a bad situation lingered.

Then came another change of agents and threatened lawsuits followed by rumors that he and Wozniacki were breaking up. McIlroy’s golf game was nowhere to be found all summer. By the time he reached the PGA Championship in August he was being asked if he thought he had been unfairly pilloried by the media in Europe.

“That’s for you guys to decide, not me,” he said, clearly upset with what had been said and written, but smart enough to know that at least some of it was true.

When he won at the end of the year in Australia it appeared things were turning back around. Then came the announcement of his engagement to Wozniacki, which ended the break-up rumors. So much for those ready to write him off at 24 as a two-(major)-hit wonder.

He has played well in fits and starts in 2014. He appeared on his way to winning at the Honda – which would have represented a wonderful turnaround one year after tooth-gate - but collapsed en route to the Sunday finish line, losing in a playoff. More recently, he has become the king of the backdoor top 10 – which isn’t bad for the wallet but is hardly what a player with hall-of-fame potential is looking to achieve.

He thought he’d found something with his putter on the last day at the Masters. No, not yet.

We may now know the reason for the inconsistency on the golf course: confusion off of it. The greatest relationship in the world is difficult. Ask any couple that’s been married for 40 or 50 years if it’s been all seashells and balloons and watch them react.

There’s no reason to assign blame when an engagement is broken off. Better, in fact, for a couple to realize that marriage isn’t going to work before all the complications that come with marriage come into play. Most of us aren’t ready to be married in our 20s. Or our 30s, for that matter.

McIlroy is more comfortable now with his equipment. He is still searching for consistency with his putter but he was doing the same thing when he was ranked No. 1. He may be closer to stability with his management team.

All those issues pale, though, in comparison to feeling as if something is wrong with your personal life. The worst thing anyone can deal with is a problem regarding one of your children. The second-worst is a problem with your spouse or loved one. Clearly, McIlroy has been trying to figure out what is the best thing for him and for Wozniacki for a while now. The fact that he would decide it was time to cut the cord only days after wedding invitations were sent out makes it seem this was a decision he agonized about.

Chances are, he won’t put it behind him right away. He said Wednesday that he looked forward to escaping when he gets between the ropes and focusing just on golf. That won’t be easy.

But in time, it will get easier. And then, maybe in the not-too-distant future, we may again see the Rory McIlroy who lit up his sport in 2011 and 2012. It would be a welcome sight. 

South Korean LPGA stars lead KLPGA team

By Randall MellNovember 24, 2017, 10:32 pm

South Korea’s LPGA team of all-stars took the early lead Friday on the Korean LPGA Tour in a team event featuring twice as much star power as this year’s Solheim Cup did.

Eight of the world’s top 20 players are teeing it up in the ING Life Champions Trophy/ Inbee Park Invitational in Gyeongju. There were only four players among the top 20 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings when the United States defeated Europe in Des Moines, Iowa.

Park led the LPGA team to a 3 ½-to-2 ½ lead on the first day.

Park, who has been recuperating from a back injury for most of the second half of this season, teamed with Jeongeun Lee5 to defeat Hye Jin Choi and Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4, in the lead-off four-ball match.

So Yeon Ryu and Park, former world No. 1s and LPGA Rolex Player of the Year Award winners, will be the marquee pairing on Saturday. They will lead off foursomes against Ji Young Kim and Min Sun Kim.

Nine of the 11 South Koreans who won LPGA events this year are competing. Sung Hyun Park and I.K. Kim are the only two who aren’t.

The fourball results:

LPGA’s Inbee Park/ Jeongeun Lee5 def. Hye Jin Choi/Ji Hyun Kim, 5 and 4.

LPGA’s Mirim Lee/Amy Yang def.  Ji Hyun Oh/Min Sun Kim, 3 and 1.

LPGA’s M.J. Hur/Mi Hyang Lee halved Ji Hyun Kim/Ji Young Kim.

KLPGA’s Ha Na Jang/Sun Woo Bae def. Sei Young Kim/Hyo Joo Kim, 5 and 4.

LPGA’s Na Yeon Choi/Jenny Shin halved Jin Young Ko/Da Yeon Lee

LPGA’s In Gee Chun/Eun Hee Ji halved Jeongeun Lee6/Char Young Kim.

NOTE: The KPGA uses numerals after a player’s name to distinguish players with the exact same name.


Cut Line: Lyle faces third bout with cancer

By Rex HoggardNovember 24, 2017, 5:40 pm

In this week’s holiday edition, Cut Line is thankful for the PGA Tour’s continued progress on many fronts and the anticipation that only a Tiger Woods return can generate.

Made Cut

The Fighter. That was the headline of a story Cut Line wrote about Jarrod Lyle following his second bout with cancer a few years ago, so it’s both sad and surreal to see the affable Australian now bracing for a third fight with leukemia.

Lyle is working as an analyst for Channel 7’s coverage of this week’s Emirates Australian Open prior to undergoing another stem cell transplant in December.

“I’ve got a big month coming,” Lyle said. “I’m back into hospital for some really heavy-duty treatment that’s really going to determine how things pan out for me.”

Twice before things have panned out for Lyle. Let’s hope karma has one more fight remaining.

Changing times. Last season the PGA Tour introduced a policy to add to the strength of fields, a measure that had long eluded officials and by most accounts was a success.

This season the circuit has chosen to tackle another long-standing thorn, ridiculously long pro-am rounds. While there seems little the Tour can do to speed up play during pro-am rounds, a new plan called a 9&9 format will at least liven things up for everyone involved.

Essentially, a tournament hosting a pro-am with four amateurs can request the new format, where one professional plays the first nine holes and is replaced by another pro for the second nine.

Professionals will have the option to request 18-hole pro-am rounds, giving players who limit practice rounds to just pro-am days a chance to prepare, but otherwise it allows Tour types to shorten what is an admittedly long day while the amateurs get a chance to meet and play with two pros.

The new measure does nothing about pace of play, but it does freshen up a format that at times can seem tired, and that’s progress.

Tweet of the week: @Love3d (Davis Love III‏) “Thanks to Dr. Flanagan (Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center) for the new hip and great care! Can’t wait to get back to (the PGA Tour).”

Love offered the particularly graphic tweet following hip replacement surgery on Tuesday, a procedure that he admitted he’d delayed because he was “chicken.”

The surgery went well and Love is on pace to return to the Tour sometime next spring. As for the possibility of over-sharing on social media, we’ll leave that to the crowd.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Distance control. The Wall Street Journal provided the octagon for the opening blows of a clash that has been looming for a long time.

First, USGA executive director Mike Davis told The Journal that the answer to continued distance gains may be a restricted-flight golf ball with an a la carte rule that would allow different organizations, from the Tour all the way down to private clubs, deciding which ball to use.

“You can’t say you don’t care about distance, because guess what? These courses are expanding and are predicted to continue to expand,” Davis said. “The impact it has had has been horrible.”

A day later, Wally Uihlein, CEO of Acushnet, which includes the Titleist brand, fired back in a letter to The Journal, questioning among other things how distance gains are putting a financial burden on courses.

“The only people that seem to be grappling with advances in technology and physical fitness are the short-sighted golf course developers and the supporting golf course architectural community who built too many golf courses where the notion of a 'championship golf course' was brought on line primarily to sell real estate,” Uihlein wrote.

For anyone paying attention the last few years, this day was inevitable and the likely start of what will be a drawn out and heated process, but Cut Line’s just not sure anyone wins when it’s over.

Tiger, take II. Tiger Woods’ return to competition next week at the Hero World Challenge was always going to generate plenty of speculation, but that hyperbole reached entirely new levels this week as players began giving personal accounts of the new and improved 14-time major champion.

“I did talk to him, and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years,’” Day said as he prepared for the Australian Open. “If he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.”

Rickie Fowler added to the frenzy when he was asked this month if the rumors that Woods is driving the ball by him, by 20 to 30 yards by some reports, are true?

“Oh, yeah,” he told “Way by.”

Add to all this a recent line that surfaced in Las Vegas that Woods is now listed at 20-1 to win a major in 2018, and it seems now may be a good time for a restraint.

Golf is better with Woods, always has been and always will be, but it may be best to allow Tiger time to find out where his body and game are before we declare him back.

Missed Cut

Searching for answers. Twelve months ago, Hideki Matsuyama was virtually unstoppable and, regardless of what the Official World Golf Ranking said, arguably the best player on the planet.

Now a year removed from that lofty position, which featured the Japanese star finishing either first or second in six of his seven starts as the New Year came and went, Matsuyama has faded back to fifth in the world and on Sunday finished fifth, some 10 strokes behind winner Brooks Koepka, at the Dunlop Phoenix.

“That hurt,” Matsuyama told the Japan Times. “I don’t know whether it’s a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well. It seems there are many issues to address.”

Since his last victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Matsuyama has just two top-10 finishes on Tour and he ended his 2016-17 season with a particularly poor performance at the Presidents Cup.

While Matsuyama’s take seems extreme considering his season, there are certainly answers that need answering.

Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 24, 2017, 1:33 pm

Updated at 9:50 p.m. ET

Images and footage from Tiger Woods and Dustin Johnson's round Friday at Trump National in Jupiter, Fla., alongside President Donald Trump:

Original story:

Tiger Woods is scheduled to make his return to competition next week at his Hero World Challenge. But first, a (quick) round with the President.

President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that he was going to play at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., alongside Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Woods and President Trump previously played last December. Trump, who, according to has played 75 rounds since taking over the presidency, has also played over the last year with Rory McIlroy, Ernie Els and Hideki Matsuyama.

Chawrasia leads major champs in Hong Kong

By Associated PressNovember 24, 2017, 1:19 pm

HONG KONG – S.S.P. Chawrasia extended his lead at the Hong Kong Open to two strokes Friday after a 4-under 66 in the second round.

Chawrasia, who had led by one at the Hong Kong Golf Club, is at 9-under 131 overall and took as much as a five-stroke lead at one point.

''Yesterday I was putting very well, and today, also I make some up and downs. I saved a couple of short putts. That's why I think I'm leading by two shots most probably,'' the Indian said. ''The next two days, I'm just looking forward.''

Full-field scores from the UBS Hong Kong Open

Thomas Aiken (64) is second, followed by Alexander Bjork (66), Joakim Lagergren (66), Poom Saksansin (68) and Julian Suri (67) at 5 under 135.

Aiken's round was the lowest of the tournament.

''It is tough out there. The greens are really firm. You've got to hit the fairway,'' Aiken said. ''If you get above the holes, putts can get away from you.''

Justin Rose (69) had six birdies, but three bogeys and a double-bogey at the par 3 12th kept him at 3 under for the tournament.

Masters champion Sergio Garcia (71), playing for the first time in Hong Kong, was at even par, as was defending champion Sam Brazel (71) and 2014 champion Scott Hend (67).

''I have to play better,'' Garcia said. ''The way I felt like I played, it's difficult. This kind of course, you need to play well to shoot a good score.''