Fleet Street foolishness

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2011, 5:23 pm

When everything you do is wrong, what motivation do you have to do right?

That thought, or whatever the Northern Irish variation would be, must be swirling about young Rory McIlroy’s head today, along with a healthy dose of Advil following another major championship for Ulster and another Guinness-laden victory celebration.

When the 22-year-old U.S. Open champion walked off Royal St. George’s on Sunday, wind battered and more than a little bitter following weekend rounds of 74-73 and a penalty stroke for a blown golf  ball, he was asked to sum up his Open experience.

He said, “I'm not a fan of golf tournaments that the outcome is predicted so much by the weather. It's not my sort of golf . . . looking forward to getting back and playing in Akron (WGC-Bridgestone Invitational), playing the PGA and getting back into some nice conditions.”

What Monday’s headline in the tabloid Daily Mail said was: “I hate the weather and can’t wait to get back to America’s sunshine.”

Seems something was lost in translation between the Queen’s English and the version McIlroy grew up speaking in Holywood, Northern Ireland. And the Mail story was hardly the exception.

Perhaps only media mogul Rupert Murdoch, whose phone-hacking scandal has rocked the United Kingdom, had a worse day in the press on Monday. And for what – honesty, an innate understanding of his own limitations, a long view of a career that has scarcely gotten off the first tee?

Other than the “looking forward to getting back” to America comment – the game’s new alpha male is limited to 10 tournaments on the PGA Tour this year and will probably only use nine of those starts – McIlroy’s comments were honest to the extreme, particularly when he was asked if he would consider changing his game to play links golf.

“No point in changing your game for one week a year,” said McIlroy, who also struggled in the wind and rain last year at St. Andrews when he ballooned to a second-round 80 in brutal conditions following an opening 63.

Never mind that many of the same pundits who have decried Martin Kaymer’s decision to add a draw to his repertoire specifically to play Augusta National – a move some say has led to a mini-slump for the German this year – are now thumbing their collective noses at the boy’s impudence towards the ancient game.

“You would think anyone growing up playing golf in Northern Ireland would have quickly come to terms with such things as wind, rain and cold. Not Rory McIlroy, apparently, who made a somewhat petulant departure from the Open by blaming the weather for a modest showing which saw him finish in a tie for 25th,” the Daily Mail story began.

And it wasn’t just the Fleet Street types who took McIlroy to task. On Tuesday Welshman Ian Woosnam told the Associated Press, “to be a true golfer, you have to be able to play in different golf conditions.” While 1994 Open champion Nick Price reasoned that McIlroy, “is going to have 20 or 30 Opens in his career – he doesn’t want to have that attitude.”

So McIlroy doesn’t like to play golf in a typhoon, who does? I mean, besides Darren Clarke.

McIlroy is an Ulsterman to his core but has a distinctly American game, complete with a high ball flight and aggressive short game, the byproduct, no doubt, of having grown up playing Holywood Golf Club, a parkland-style course with small greens and large fairways. It’s the kind of skill sets that play well from Whistling Straits to Magnolia Lane as evidenced by his scorecard in the last five majors – T-3 (2010 Open Championship), T-3 (2010 PGA Championship), T-15 (2011 Masters), victory (2011 U.S. Open) and T-25 (2011British Open).

Besides, to reason that McIlroy doesn’t have the game to play links golf is to ignore the facts, This is, after all, the same swing that produced a course-record 61 at Royal Portrush Golf Club when McIlroy was 16 years old and he enjoys a regular game at Royal County Down Golf Club, two of the most wind-whipped layouts this side of Fife.

“My game is suited for basically every golf course and most conditions, but these conditions I just don't enjoy playing in really,” said McIlroy, who is making a habit out of having the clearest head in the room. “That's the bottom line. I'd rather play when it's 80 degrees and sunny and not much wind.”

It’s also concerning that McIlroy is already falling victim to the media’s unrealistic expectations, with more than one United Kingdom publication referring to his  “mediocre 25th-place finish” at Royal St. George’s.

From the moment he steamrolled the field at Congressional the comparisons to Jack Nicklaus have been almost inevitable. A few weeks ago we warned in this space that the last 17 majors are usually the hardest to win. In light of what has transpired since Sunday perhaps another warning is in order.

In this Price is correct, the young Ulsterman has 20 or 30 more Opens to make his mark on the claret jug, and there’s no way we’re betting against him. Not with that swing.

Els honored with Heisman Humanitarian Award

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 11:41 pm

The annual Heisman Trophy award ceremony is one of the biggest moments in any football season, but there was a touching non-football moment as well on Saturday night as Ernie Els received the Heisman Humanitarian Award.

The award, which had been announced in August, recognized Els' ongoing efforts on behalf of his Els for Autism foundation. Els received the award at Manhattan's PlayStation Theater, where Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy.

Els, 47, founded Els for Autism in 2009 with his wife after their son, Ben, was diagnosed with autism. Their efforts have since flourished into a 26-acre campus in Jupiter, Fla., and the creation of the Els Center for Excellence in 2015.

The Heisman Humanitarian Award has been given out since 2006. Past recipients include NBA center David Robinson, NFL running back Warrick Dunn, soccer star Mia Hamm and NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

A native of South Africa, Els won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 and The Open in 2002 and 2012. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.

Getty Images

Monday finish for Joburg Open; Sharma leads by 4

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 10, 2017, 8:57 pm

Rain, lightning and hail pushed the Joburg Open to a Monday finish, with India’s Shubhankar Sharma holding a four-stroke lead with 11 holes to play in Johannesburg.

Play is scheduled to resume at 7:30 a.m. local time.

South Africa’s Erik van Rooyen will have a 3-foot putt for birdie to move within three shots of Sharma wen play resumes at the Randpark Golf Club. Sarma is at 22 under par.

Tapio Pulkkanen of Finland and James Morrison of England are tied for third at 14 under. Pulkkanen has 10 holes remaining, Morrison 11.

The top three finishers who are not already exempt, will get spots in next year’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.



Stricker, O'Hair team to win QBE Shootout

By Will GrayDecember 10, 2017, 8:55 pm

It may not count in the official tally, but Steve Stricker is once again in the winner's circle on the PGA Tour.

Stricker teamed with Sean O'Hair to win the two-person QBE Shootout, as the duo combined for a better-ball 64 in the final round to finish two shots clear of Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry. It's the second win in this event for both men; Stricker won with Jerry Kelly back in 2009 while O'Hair lifted the trophy with Kenny Perry in 2012.

Stricker and O'Hair led wire-to-wire in the 54-hole, unofficial event after posting a 15-under 57 during the opening-round scramble.

"We just really gelled well together," Stricker said. "With his length the first day, getting some clubs into the greens, some short irons for me, we just fed off that first day quite a bit. We felt comfortable with one another."

Full-field scores from the QBE Shootout

Stricker won 12 times during his PGA Tour career, most recently at the 2012 Tournament of Champions. More recently the 50-year-old has been splitting his time on the PGA Tour Champions and captained the U.S. to a victory at the Presidents Cup in October. O'Hair has four official Tour wins, most recently at the 2011 RBC Canadian Open.

Pat Perez and Brian Harman finished alone in third, four shots behind Stricker and O'Hair. Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau, the lone co-ed pairing in the 12-team event, finished among a tie for fourth.

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Wie takes shot at LPGA dress code in crop top

By Grill Room TeamDecember 10, 2017, 5:33 pm

The new LPGA dress code got mixed reviews when it was announced in July, and Michelle Wie is taking full advantage of her offseason with no restrictions.

The 28-year-old former U.S. Women's Open champion is keeping her game sharp while back in her home state of Hawaii, but couldn't help taking a shot at the rules while doing it, posting a photo to Instagram of her playing golf in a crop top with the caption, "Offseason = No dress code fine."

Offseason = No dress code fines #croptopdroptop

A post shared by Michelle Wie (@themichellewie) on

Wie isn't the first to voice her displeasure with the rules. Lexi Thompson posted a similar photo and caption to Instagram shortly after the policy was announced.