Poor finish sours McIlroy's 8-under 64 at Players

By Randall MellMay 13, 2016, 7:50 pm

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Now that will take the fun out of shooting 64.

Rory McIlroy didn’t look like a guy who just posted his best round ever at The Players Championship as he marched off the course Friday at the TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course. He didn’t look like a guy glowing over his swift climb into weekend contention with a chance to win the PGA Tour’s flagship event for the first time.

McIlroy walked off the last green looking as grim faced as the guys headed to slam their trunks on their way out of town after a missed cut.

He looked as if he wanted to snap the lob wedge that failed him after a bogey at the closing hole.

McIlroy’s finish turned sour after he found himself standing over a 91-yard wedge shot in the middle of the fairway at the ninth hole, his 18th of the day. He needed to make birdie to shoot a 10-under-par 62, the best round in the 43-year history of The Players. He needed a par to shoot 63 and gain a share of the tournament record.

“A few guys have shot 63 here, it would have been nice to shoot 62,” McIlroy said.

An otherwise exhilarating day full of so much to feel good about left him feeling something else.


The Players Championship: Articles, photos and videos


“Disappointment,” McIlroy said. “I'm frustrated. It should have been a couple better.”

McIlroy was at 8-under 136 when he signed his scorecard, two shots off the lead.

“I feel like I should be tied for the lead,” McIlroy said. “So, yeah, I'm disappointed, but there are still two more days to go. That's the nice thing. I'm in a good position heading into the weekend, but it really depends on what the guys do this afternoon. Hopefully, I'm still not too far behind going into the weekend.”

We heard the hungry competitor in McIlroy in those frustrating, raw moments after his round, but as he made his way from one interview station to another after signing his scorecard, the bigger picture of the day became clearer to him. He was on fire for 17½ holes. He pounded drivers deep and straight. He hit a lot of wedges, which have frustrated him of late, tight into pins. He needed just eight putts over his first eight holes. He shot 29 on the back nine (his first nine) to equal the course record.

McIlroy was brilliant for all but the final 10 minutes of his 4-hour and 45-minute round.

“Obviously, I have to take a lot of positives from it,” McIlroy said. “I played well. I took advantage of the conditions.”

McIlroy is seeking his first victory since winning the European Tour’s DP World Championship last November. He is seeking his first title at The Players Championship after top-10 finishes in each of the last three years.

“I’m happy with my game,” McIlroy said. “I’m in good position even though I finished a little bit frustratingly, but these things happen.”

McIlroy gave himself a chance at the course record after hitting a 3-wood down the middle at that last hole, leaving himself 275 yards to the pin. Why didn’t he go for the green in two?

“I sort of talked myself out of it in the fairway,” McIlroy said. “Any time I’ve went for the ninth green in two here, I've either hit into the trees on the left, or I've hit it out to the right, into those grassy mounds that Pete Dye loves. It has never really worked out for me when I went for the green.”

McIlroy said he took 5-wood out of his bag this week and replaced it with a 2-iron. He said he might have gone for the green if he had left the 5-wood in his bag.

“I could have got a little bit more height,” he said. “Yeah, I was thinking about it. I wanted to make birdie and shoot 62. There's no doubt about that.”

From 91 yards, McIlroy tried to finesse a lob wedge at a hole location cut near the front of the green.

“I might have left myself a little bit too close,” McIlroy said. “It was a tough shot with it being downwind and the pin so tight. I was trying to get sort of cute with it, I guess, and I just hit it too easy.”

McIlroy’s approach ballooned short, landing in deep Bermuda rough on a slope in front of the green. He tried to pop out his chip, but he barely got the ball on the fringe of the green, leaving himself a 21-foot putt for par. He ran that past.

McIlroy hasn’t been happy with his wedges this season. He ranks 116th on tour on approaches between 50 and 125 yards, but he was stiffing wedges on Friday. That last lob wedge approach was his worst all day.

“I could have been a couple lower, but it was still a great round,” McIlroy said.

And it gives him a chance to have a great weekend.

Getty Images

Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

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.