Smith Adopts New Outlook
Smith is as middle of the road as they come. Hes married, like movies and sports, was even born in Iowa.
Yet, one look at the electronic Disney leaderboard early Friday and you find that name ' in bright lights, at the top.
Smith shot his second straight 6-under-par 66 to move to 12-under and into the lead midway through the second round of the National Car Rental Classic at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
The last two days I have really had good control of my golf game out there, Smith said.
The conditions this morning were ideal. I got off to a great start. I birdied three of the first four holes. That helped settle me in for the day.
Smith was in the first group out Friday morning, teeing off on the Magnolia Course at 7:30 a.m. ET. He started the round one off the overnight lead; held by Shaun Micheel, Stewart Cink, Len Mattiace, Steve Lowery and Scott McCarron.
Micheel and Mattiace were the only players among the 18-hole leaders to play in the morning, both shot 70 and are three back of Smith at 9-under.
Tiger Woods is among those teeing off in the afternoon. Woods, the 1996 and 99 Disney champion, opened in 3-under 69.
With three events remaining on the PGA Tour schedule, Smith resides in 120th place on the money list. The top 125 at seasons end earn full exempt status in 2002.
Yet, Smith doesnt carry the demeanor of a man struggling to maintain his professional existence. And that can be attributed to an event that took place on May 20.
Five months ago, Smith and his wife, Jennifer, adopted a baby girl. They named her Olivia.
It has been a great experience, Smith said, fighting back tears. She has been a great baby.'
After years of trying to conceive a child, the Smiths decided to try adoption. They were helped along the way by Kirk and Cathi Triplett, who also with through the process.
They are the ones that really helped us get in with this agency (in California) and establish a good relationship, the 37-year-old Smith said. It happened very quickly. It just really happened, I guess, for the right reasons.
Olivia and Jennifer occasionally travel with Jerry. He finds it difficult to leave them; though, this week they are at home in Scottsdale, Ariz.
(Olivia) is just beginning to start to know whats going on around her, but shes still a little too young for Mickey, the proud papa said with a smile.
Smith is in his second season on the PGA Tour. He made 20 of 32 cuts a year ago to finish 118th in earnings. Most of his money was concentrated in a ninth-place finish at the Byron Nelson Classic - his best career finish on Tour until a tie for eighth at this year's Air Canada Championship.
Last year I sort of was inside that (top-125) bubble most of the year, he said. This year it has been totally opposite. I started off very slow.'
Smith has missed 14 cuts in 29 starts this season, including two in a row leading up to the NCR Classic. Still, theres no hint of desperation in his voice. No amount of frustration in his face.
There is no doubt I think I was sort of on edge early in the year, sort of short with people, and maybe short with myself, and impatient with myself out on the golf course, Smith said.
I have really tried to just say, hey, I dont care what happens, and I tried saying this several months ago. Its played out very well for me.
That approach ' simple as it is ' is working quite well thus far this week.
Full-field scores from the NCR Classic
McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.
The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.
McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.
McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.
''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''
Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.
''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''
McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.
''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''
The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.
''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''
The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.
Pre-tourney caution be damned: Stenson rides camel
If you were under the impression Henrik Stenson's days of engaging in pre-tournament hijinks at HSBC-sponsored events were over, then you don't know the Swedish Superman.
Ahead of this week's HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, the 2016 champion golfer of the year decided to have some fun riding (and pretend-spanking) a camel:
When in the Middle East... pic.twitter.com/lNv1Lh79E0— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) January 16, 2018
If you can't imagine any reason Stenson wouldn't get on a camel, we will point you to the WGC-HSBC Champions back in October, when Stenson, Dustin Johnson, Haotong Li and Hideki Matsuyama took place in this hire-wire act:
Two weeks later, Stenson revealed a rib injury, and a report from the U.K.'s Telegraph stated "that not only was the Shanghai caper to blame, but that Stenson is annoyed about being persuaded to do it in the first place."
Stenson brushed back at that report in this Instagram post, saying that his "comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal."
I’m disappointed to have to pre-emptively withdraw from the Nedbank Golf Challenge Hosted by Gary Player, I was looking forward to this important year-end event on the European Tour. At this point I am back home in Orlando waiting to do a scan on my ribs and get the necessary rest. I am still hoping for a quick recovery and have not ruled out playing in Dubai next week at this point. My comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal. The plan as of now will be to participate in the DP World Championship if my body is back to 100%. H
And it would appear he genuinely meant those comments, at least enough to get on a camel.
Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational
Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.
The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.
Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.
“I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”
Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews
Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.
Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.