Double trouble: Rough start sends McIlroy to 73

By Randall MellFebruary 26, 2015, 11:57 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – A search party of marshals and spectators at the Honda Classic could not find Rory McIlroy’s first tee shot in his first start of this PGA Tour season.

After watching heavy, gusting winds push his 2-iron right and into trouble, McIlroy bravely forced his way into the thick, native vegetation at PGA National, looking for his ball in places only snakes and possums get comfortable. He ended up having to jog all the way back to the tee box to re-tee.

A double bogey wasn’t exactly the way the world No. 1 envisioned starting the Tour season.

“The conditions, obviously, were very tricky from the start,” McIlroy said.

McIlroy made another double bogey at the fifth hole, pulling his tee shot there into a pond.

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In the end, though, McIlroy managed a smile after closing with a pair of birdies to shoot a 3-over-par 73.

“I feel like I salvaged something out of the round the last couple holes,” McIlroy said. “It was just a day to keep trying, not to give up, and know that anything around level or 1  or 2 over par still isn't out of it.”

Stepping up to the 16th tee, McIlroy was tied for 104th. With his little rally at the end, he walked away tied for 79th, eight shots off the lead.

“Wasn't quite what I wanted, but, hopefully, tomorrow morning we get calmer conditions and we're able to give ourselves a few more opportunities and make some birdies,” McIlroy said.

The winds were up right from day’s start, but they were toughest in the afternoon, with gusts up to 34 mph. Scores were on average more than a full shot higher in the afternoon.

McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka, the featured afternoon grouping, got beat up by Mother Nature.

McIlroy’s 73 was the low round of the group. Johnson shot 77 and Koepka 78.

At one point, the threesome was collectively 20 over par.

“It was tough,” McIlroy said. “When nothing's going your way, and you don't really have anything to feed off, you don't see many good shots, and we're all struggling, it was a grind out there. We'll all go home and put our feet up tonight and get ready for tomorrow.”

With winds even affecting putts, McIlroy wasn’t beating himself up after the round.

“Not at all,” he said. “I'm coming off a three-week break, and tough conditions to come back out in.  I knew that my game is there. Today wasn't, obviously, what I wanted to start with, but you know, if I can get it into red numbers tomorrow, I'm right back in the tournament.”

McIlroy is making his first start since winning the European Tour’s Dubai Desert Classic almost a month ago. He teed it up this week on a tear that extends back into last summer, when he won the British Open, WGC-Bridgestone and PGA Championship in consecutive starts. He has a victory and four second-place finishes in his last five starts.

There was something else McIlroy found to be upbeat about. His 73 was a shot better than he posted in the final round last year, when he couldn’t protect a 54-hole lead and lost in a playoff.

“So it’s a little bit of an accomplishment,” McIlroy cracked.

McIlroy won the Honda Classic three years ago, holding off a Sunday charge by Tiger Woods.

About that rough start Thursday, McIlroy said the wind fooled him. He wasn’t alone. Johnson also hit his opening tee shot over in the thick brush but was able to chip out.

“I felt like the wind was more into us, but once the ball, even Dustin's ball, once it got out there, the wind just took it to the right,” McIlroy said. “I was just trying to play a normal sort of straight shot there.”

Nothing was going straight in Thursday’s winds, until they started dying down near day’s end. McIlroy took advantage when they did late. He hit a 5-iron to 50 feet at the last hole.

“Two-putt and get out of there,” McIlroy said.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

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Rose leads halted Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters when bad weather stopped play Friday during the second round.

The Englishman, who shot a 10-under 62 on Thursday, had completed 13 holes and was 5 under on the day at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat (64) was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew wit on the 11th hole at 2 under for the day after shooting an opening 72.

There was no reason given for his withdrawal, but the American has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.

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Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

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