Mad McIlroy: Ready to rumble at Ryder Cup

By Randall MellOctober 1, 2016, 11:43 pm

CHASKA, Minn. – Rory McIlroy is swinging like a champion at this Ryder Cup.

Like Conor McGregor.

With right and left crosses, uppercuts and roundhouses, McIlroy stalked the Americans at Hazeltine Saturday like a prize fighter looking to make the Europeans the first team to win this biennial event by TKO. He punctuated his great play with more celebratory punches than McGregor typically throws in a Mixed Martial Arts bout.

“It's a tough environment for us to come and play in,” McIlroy said. “We expect that. It's the same for the U.S. guys when they come to play in Europe. You have to keep your concentration out there. It's been a long day and sometimes emotions run high.”

McIlroy teamed with Thomas Pieters to rout some American stars in a pair of partnered matches Saturday.

They beat Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler, 4 and 2, in morning foursomes and put away Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka, 3 and 1, in afternoon fourballs.

The McIlroy-Pieters team is 3-0 for the week.

While it wasn’t enough to keep a European rally going with their teammates fading late Saturday afternoon, McIlroy put on a show that left a large impression on European and American fans alike. 

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An atmosphere that included taunts and barbs from American fans brought out a fight in a clearly irritated McIlroy like we’ve never seen from him before.

McIlroy is officially the face of this European Ryder Cup effort now, a snarling, pugnacious combination of Ian Poulter and Colin Montgomerie.

McIlroy said afterward that he used the American taunts as fuel.

“It fueled me a lot,” he said. “The more they shouted, the better we played. I hope they shout at us all day tomorrow.”

McIlroy had a heckler ejected for a foul taunt as he walked to the eighth tee in afternoon foursomes, and then he birdied the ninth and 10th holes.

After sticking a 9-iron to 2 feet at the ninth, McIlroy cleaned up the birdie and then whirled to the grandstand, face twisted with gritted teeth, and he cold-cocked the air with a pair of punches. After holing a 12-foot putt for birdie at the 10th, he howled and threw another celebratory punch toward the grandstand.

American fans taunted McIlroy, singing “Sweet Caroline” while he was on the front nine, a pointed barb at his breakup with tennis star Caroline Wozniacki two years ago.

“The heckling just pumps us up,” Pieters said.

Ryder Cup heat can make some players wilt. It did something else this week to McIlroy. It peeled back a veneer, allowing the world to glimpse the fight and fire that has driven him to win four major championships, none of them, however, with the outward fury he’s showing at Hazeltine.

McIlroy played like the Americans needed to be as well versed in the Marquess of Queensbury rules as they do the Rules of Golf.

“Rory’s been unbelievable,” American captain Davis Love III said.

McIlroy, 27, and Pieters, 24, look like they could be a problem for the Americans beyond this week’s Ryder Cup.

“I think we may have this team for a while,” Pieters said.

McIlroy liked hearing Pieters say that.

“Yes, look for us in Paris in two years,” he said.

McIlroy and Pieters played 49 holes together this week and never trailed. They were 22 under par together.

While Pieters wasn’t as outwardly fiery as McIlroy, he was equally formidable with his ball striking on Saturday. In the afternoon fourballs, he drove the fifth green, a 352-yard par 4, and holed the putt for eagle. He was 7 under through 17 holes in that fourball victory.

“It was incredible, just like yesterday,” McIlroy said. “We dovetailed really well all day. This guy showed his class at the end.”

With McIlroy hitting a drive out of bounds at the 15th and an approach shot in the water at the 16th, Pieters stepped up. Pieters clinched the afternoon match with a birdie at the 17th.

If the Europeans are going to overcome a three-point deficit going into Sunday singles, they’ll need a lot of the fight McIlroy and Pieters showed Saturday.

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The Social: G.O.A.T., after G.O.A.T., after G.O.A.T.

By Jason CrookJanuary 23, 2018, 6:00 pm

Tom Brady compares himself to Tiger Woods, who coincidentally is returning to the PGA Tour this week, Jordan Spieth hangs out with some decent company and kids these days ruffle some feathers with their friendships.

All that and more in this week's edition of The Social.

Well, it’s finally Farmers Insurance Open week and Woods has been spotted practicing for his official return to the PGA Tour on Thursday.

Some thought this day might never come after a 2017 filled with mostly downs for the 14-time major champ.

But as he has taught the golf world time and time again, you just can't count Tiger out.

So even as Jon Rahm attempts to overtake Dustin Johnson for No. 1 in the world this week at Torrey Pines, all eyes will be on one of the greatest we've ever seen do it, even if that guy is ranked No. 647 in the world.

Speaking of greatness …

There’s not many who can just offhandedly compare themselves to Tiger, but if anyone gets a pass, it’s Tom Brady.

The 40-year-old New England Patriots quarterback led his team back to the Super Bowl for the second straight year despite playing the AFC title game with a cut on his throwing hand.

When asked about it after the Patriots come-from-behind victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady answered, “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that. It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament.”

So there you have it. A 40-year-old Brady is winning AFC Championships with his C game. Good luck, Eagles; you’re going to need it.

Also, if for some reason you wanted an update on Justin Thomas' life, it's still awesome:

Yeah, that's last year's PGA Tour Player of the Year hanging with Cy Young winner Cory Kluber in a suite at the Patriots game and teasing us with a possible #SB2K18 cameo.

Curtis Strange likes his competitive golf straight up, hold the friendliness.

This, according to Curtis Strange.

The two-time U.S. Open champ took to Twitter during the CareerBuilder Challenge to vent his frustration regarding the constant chit-chat and friendliness between Rahm and Andrew Landry:

This, of course, makes sense in theory. But good luck watching golf – or really any sport – from here on out. Sure there will be a few old school guys who buck the trend here and there, but for the most part, it’s really hard to share a private jet/dinners/vacations/(insert awesome thing here) with someone, and then completely turn off the friendship coming down the stretch of a big tournament.

Damn millennials. They ruin everything.

By now you've all seen that poor Philadelphia Eagles fan who lost his battle with a subway station pillar (from multiple angles), so instead here is a video of a man attempting to stand on an egg. Bet you can't guess how that goes.

Tony's gonna stand on an egg

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Seriously if you haven't seen the video of that Eagles fan, here's your last chance in this column. You'll be glad you did.

Jordan Spieth, Michael Phelps and Bryce Harper walk on to a golf course … there’s no punchline, that actually happened last week in Las Vegas.

Was the whole thing just a big advertisement for Spieth’s new Under Armour shoe? You bet.

But that doesn’t make the optics of three of the biggest superstar athletes on the planet teeing it up for a round any less awesome.

Off to the next. #Spieth2 #TEAMUA

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The trio has three major wins, five All Star Game appearances and 28 Olympic medals between them, and there they were over the weekend just fake laughing for the camera and driving around individual golf carts with their own personalized logos on them.

Just guys being dudes. Nothing better than that.

Matt Kuchar. Still good at golf. Still overly polite. This according to European Tour pro Eddie Pepperell who had the privilege of hitting on the range next to Kuuuuuch in Abu Dhabi last week.

That image is burned into your brain forever now, thanks Eddie. From now on when you think of Kuchar you're going to think of those Sketches ads and "oopsies."

Which, I suppose is better than a, "Did you get that?"

Blayne Barber's caddie, Cory Gilmer, collapsed and hit his head while at a restaurant at the Sony Open and has been mostly unconscious in the neurological intensive care unit ever since.

The outpouring of love and support from the golf community has been overwhelming on social media, and a GoFundMe page has been set up to help with the mounting medical costs for Gilmer and his family.

Check out the link below for more info or to donate to a worthy cause:

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Top-ranked amateur wins LAAC, earns Masters invite

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 23, 2018, 5:38 pm

Joaquin Niemann walked Augusta National Golf Club as a patron last year. He’ll be a competitor in 2018.

Niemann, the top-ranked amateur in the world, shot 8-under 63 Tuesday at Prince of Wales Country Club in his native Santiago, Chile, to win the Latin America Amateur Championship.

And with the title, both redemption and an invitation to the Masters Tournament.

Full-field scores from the Latin America Amateur Championship

Niemann finished runner-up in last year’s LAAC to fellow Chilean Toto Gana. He followed Gana around Augusta grounds, watching as his best friend played two rounds before missing the cut.

Niemann, who was going to turn professional had he not won this week, started the final round one back of Mexico’s Alvaro Ortiz. Niemann was sluggish from the start on Tuesday, but then drove the 313-yard, par-4 eighth and made the eagle putt. That sparked a run of five birdies over his next six holes.

Niemann was bogey-free in the final round and finished five shots clear of Ortiz, at 11 under.

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Judges Panel, Host Announced for Wilson Golf's "Driver vs. Driver 2," Premiering This Fall on Golf Channel

By Golf Channel Public RelationsJanuary 23, 2018, 4:15 pm

‘Driver vs. Driver 2 Presented by Wilson Currently in Production; Sports Broadcaster Melanie Collins Returns to Host

Morning Drive: Driver vs. Driver 2 Judges Announced

Golf Channel and Wilson Golf announced today the panel of judges and host for the second season of Driver vs. Driver, the innovative television series that follows aspiring golf equipment designers as they compete for the opportunity to have their driver idea or concept transformed into the next great golf driver from Wilson. The show is currently in production and will premiere this fall.

Joining judge Tim Clarke, President of Wilson Golf, are two newcomers to the series: 9-time National Hockey League (NHL) All-Star and current NHL on NBC hockey analyst Jeremy Roenick – an avid golfer with a single digit handicap and a self-described golf equipment junkie; and PGA Professional, golf coach, equipment reviewer and social media influencer Rick Shiels.

“Golf is a big passion of mine, and personally I enjoy learning about new equipment and concepts,” said Roenick. “To be able to see this side of the business in how equipment is developed first-hand is fascinating. Being a part of the process in reviewing driver concepts and narrowing them down to an ultimate winning driver that will be sold across the country is a tremendous honor.” 

“Jeremy, as an avid golfer, and Rick, as a coach, equipment reviewer and golf professional, bring incredible, real world insights and different perspectives to the show and this process,” said Clarke. “I’m excited to work alongside these two judges to push the boundaries of innovation and bring a next-generation driver to golfers around the world.”

Sports broadcaster Melanie Collins returns as the host of Driver vs. Driver 2. Currently a sideline reporter for CBS Sports’ college football and basketball coverage, Collins hosted the inaugural season in 2016 and formerly co-hosted Golf Channel’s competition series, Big Break.

Production for Driver vs. Driver 2 began in the fall of 2017 and will continue through the summer, including this week at the PGA Merchandise Show. The series is being produced by Golf Channel, whose portfolio of original productions include interview series Feherty hosted by Emmy-nominated sports personality David Feherty, high-quality instruction shows School of Golf, Golf Channel Academy and Playing Lessons and a slate of award-winning films.

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Tiger Tracker: Farmers Insurance Open

By Tiger TrackerJanuary 23, 2018, 4:00 pm

Tiger Woods is competing in a full-field event for the first time in nearly a year. We're tracking him at this week's Farmers Insurance Open. (Note: Tweets read, in order, left to right. Click here if you are trying to view Tiger Tracker on the Golf Channel mobile app.)