No more Mr. Nice Guy

By Randall MellJune 19, 2011, 1:48 am

BETHESDA, Md. – Major championship pressure strips away pretense.

It ruthlessly peels away the psychological armor a player straps on to hide weakness.

That’s what Rory McIlroy learned tracking down his ball back between the Peek and Berckmans cabins at Augusta National two months ago, what he learned after burying his face in his arms near tears at the 13th tee with his dream of winning the Masters all but gone.

With that collapse stripping him bare, McIlroy didn’t like what he saw in the mirror afterward.

He saw a nice guy – speaking purely of his competitor’s persona – too nice a guy between the ropes to win majors.

He told us as much this week.

McIlroy told us he needed to play the game with a colder heart.

“I needed to be a little more cocky, a little more arrogant on the golf course, and think a little bit more about myself, which I've tried to incorporate a little bit, just on the golf course,” McIlroy said. “I just try and have a bit of an attitude.”

So this is what that Masters’ loss has wrought: No more Mr. Nice Guy!

Well, so to speak, because that’s the terrific story behind the record romp McIlroy’s putting together this week in the 111th U.S. Open.

Nice guys can finish first. In fact, they can win in routs. They can ruthlessly put their foot on the neck of the competition and decimate their foes.

Nice guys can have an attitude. Nice guys can have a killer instinct.

That’s what McIlroy will show us this week if he finishes off the rout on Sunday.

“I think they go hand in hand, you know, having a little bit of attitude and a killer instinct,” McIlroy said. “I think that's what you need on the golf course, especially in the position that I find myself in. You can't get complacent. No lead is big enough, so you need to just keep going.”

At 14-under 199, McIlroy’s going where no player's gone before in the U.S. Open. He’s smashed the championship’s 54-hole scoring records.

The 22-year-old from Northern Ireland is doing so with a killer instinct that could make him the game’s next dominant force.

There’s no denying McIlroy’s nature is at odds with the cold-hearted competitor’s attitude he’s cultivating.

McIlroy keeps showing us he’s a gracious, compassionate soul. We saw it in the locker room in the immediate aftermath of the Masters loss, in the gracious way he stood and answered all the tough questions about the most disappointing loss of his career. We saw it in McIlroy’s congratulatory tweet to Masters winner Charl Schwartzel, a photo of McIlroy with Schwartzel in the winner’s green jacket on their flight away from Augusta. We saw it again in McIlroy’s trip to Haiti last week for UNICEF, in the aid he’s giving the children in that country.

“Rory’s got a bunch of talent,” said Jason Day, who is tied for third, but nine back. “The good thing about Rory is that he's a great guy. So, he’s a hard guy to hate. He's a really, really great bloke, and I really enjoy playing with Rory.”

If McIlroy has his way, today’s players won’t enjoy playing with him quite as much. They won’t enjoy losing so much. They won’t enjoy seeing how great blokes can be so cold-hearted with a trophy at stake.

But that’s the funny thing about McIlroy. He can’t hide his nature. He spoke Friday about being more arrogant, more cocky, more selfish inside the ropes, but in the middle of his round earlier in the day he went out of his way to fetch Phil Mickelson’s divot and deliver it to Mickelson’s caddie, Jim “Bones” Mackay.

Great blokes can do that, and then they can turn around and plunge straight-arrow golf shots into their competition’s heart.

McIlroy’s showing us the best kind of killer instinct this week, and yet his work isn’t done.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

Masters victory

Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative

Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ

Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket

Man of the people

Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief

Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together

Ace at 17th at Sawgrass

Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018

Departure from TaylorMade

Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'

Victory at Valderrama

Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm
Getty Images

Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

Well, this is a one new one.

According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.

PGA Tour suspends Hensby for anti-doping violation

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 8:02 pm

Mark Hensby has been suspended for one year by the PGA Tour for violating the Tour’s anti-doping policy by failing to provide a sample after notification.

The Tour made the announcement Monday, reporting that Hensby will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

The statement reads:

The PGA Tour announced today that Mark Hensby has violated the Tour Anti-Doping Policy for failing to provide a drug testing sample after notification and has been suspended for a period of one year. He will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

Hensby, 46, won the John Deere Classic in 2004. He played the Tour this past year, playing just 14 events. He finished 142nd on the money list. He once ranked among the top 30 in the Official World Golf Ranking but ranks No. 1,623 today.

The Sunshine Tour recently suspended player Etienne Bond for one year for failing a drug test. Players previously suspended by the PGA Tour for violating the anti-doping policy include Scott Stallings and Doug Barron.

The PGA Tour implemented revisions to its anti-doping program with the start of the 2017-18 season. The revisions include blood testing and the supplementation of the Tour’s prohibited list to include all of the substances and methods on the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibited list. As part of this season’s revisions, the Tour announced it would also begin reporting suspensions due to recreational drug use.

The Tour said it would not issue further comment on Hensby's suspension.