Straight man: McIlroy likely to limit driver

By Randall MellSeptember 3, 2014, 7:59 pm

CHERRY HILLS VILLAGE, Colo. – Rory McIlroy’s swing is in such powerful rhythm, it can now put more than angst into the heads of fellow players.

It can put a song there.

Just ask Erik Compton.

You can be the greatest, you can be the best.

You can move a mountain, you can break rocks.

You can be a master, don’t wait for luck.

Dedicate yourself, and you can find yourself ...

Standing in the Hall of Fame.

And the world’s gonna know your name.

Compton found himself walking through the Cherry Hills Country Club locker room late Tuesday afternoon humming the song that is the theme to McIlroy’s new Omega watch commercials. Compton was fresh off the course after playing a practice round with McIlroy in preparation for the BMW Championship.

The “Hall of Fame” song fit the whole idea behind the practice round.

Compton played a practice round with Tiger Woods back in 2000 at the Memorial, back when Woods was at his best. Compton, 34, wanted to see McIlroy, 25, at his best, to see what he could learn, just like he did playing with Woods. So, he arranged for them to play together.

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“What I saw today was very comparable to what I saw playing with Tiger in 2000, except Rory has more power,” Compton said. “Rory is a lot longer than Tiger ever was. The biggest difference is Rory hits his driver better. I have never seen anybody with that kind of power and control, period.”

The altitude at Cherry Hills makes McIlroy even longer. Playing at 5,380 feet, McIlroy’s tee shots seem to be flying even farther than the 10 percent extra this elevation usually gives players.

Compton said McIlroy blasted 400-yard drives at the second and fifth holes in their practice round.

McIlroy said he hit a 3-wood 370 yards in Wednesday’s pro-am.

“The ball is going forever,” McIlroy said. “It really is. Obviously, the altitude, and then it heated up for us on the back nine, as well. Because of my high ball flight, it's going a good 15 percent farther than it usually does.”

McIlroy tees it up this week looking to move to No. 1 in FedEx Cup points going to the Tour Championship in Atlanta next week. He’s No. 2 behind Chris Kirk and aiming to put himself in the best position possible to win the big prize that eluded him two years ago, when he won back-to-back FedEx Cup playoff events going to the Tour Championship but watched Brandt Snedeker win in Atlanta to take the $10 million jackpot.

“I feel like it's been such a great year on the golf course that if I wasn't to go ahead and win the FedEx Cup, it would definitely be disappointing,” McIlroy said. “I really want to cap off this summer as best as I can. I have two more weeks to push through, and even though I am feeling a little tired, and I'm trying to conserve as much energy as possible ... Not winning a couple of years ago did add a little bit of fuel to the fire and probably makes me a little bit more determined to try to win it this year.”

If McIlroy is going to add the BMW Championship to his British Open, PGA Championship and WGC-Bridgestone Invitational titles on the PGA Tour this year, he probably won’t be doing it by overpowering Cherry Hills with his driver. As long as he’s hitting it this week, the setup may influence him to keep his favorite club in the bag more than he likes.

“There aren’t many opportunities where you can just hit driver and see how far it goes,” McIlroy said. “You really need to place your ball in the fairway here.”

Cherry Hills will play as a par 70 at 7,352 yards on the scorecard. With a summer of rain, the rough is substantial. With fairways firming up this week, balls are running hard into the rough.

Still, even with the fifth hole playing 526 yards, McIlroy reached the green with a 3-wood and 8-iron in the pro-am.

“You’re going to want to hit approach shots from the short stuff,” McIlroy said.

Though the course may play short, even with 3-woods off tees, McIlroy sees a good test.

“You won't see guys going crazy under par,” he said. “You'll still see some pretty low scores out there, but it's an old, traditional, timeless golf course, in a way. If they want, especially with the green complexes, they can make it as tough as they want. So there's still a bit of bite there.”

If McIlroy wins here, on a famed course that wouldn’t seem to favor his power, he’ll have a lot more folks humming his Hall of Fame song when they see him.

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.