It's getting late early

By Rex HoggardJune 19, 2011, 1:36 am

BETHESDA, Md. – Dinner’s on Rory, really.

Not that the 22-year-old Northern Irish lad has lost anything, in fact there is no small collection of pseudo-clairvoyants who went to bed late Saturday thinking McIlroy had already won the 111th U.S. Open.

Lost in that hyperbole is this simple truth – they play all 72 at the national championship. The Congressional Open is not over but it’s getting late early, as Yogi Berra once famously reasoned.

No, dinner is on McIlroy because . . . well, it’s his turn.

“Lee (Westwood) paid last night, I paid the night before, which is fortunate because during the week they don’t drink much wine,” smiled Chubby Chandler, McIlroy and Westwood’s genial manager.

One can only imagine the dinner table chitchat between McIlroy – doing an uncanny stand-in for Tiger Woods at this week’s Open following rounds of 65-66-68 that pushed him eight clear of a rope-a-dope field – and Westwood, whose co-round-of-the-day 65 moved him into a tie for an arm’s-length third place.

Shame the Englishman lost his fascination with Twitter. Imagine the possibilities in a barrage of 140-character clips.

@LeeWestwood: “Suggested Rory try the oysters and sushi. It only looks a few days past expiration. LOL”

@RoyMcIlroy: “Told Westy we should have a hotdog eating contest. Said I’d spot him eight franks. HA”

On and on it would go. Two of the game’s great personalities exposed at their jovial best. Instead, the consolation prize is an 18-hole sprint on Sunday to history or a historic collapse.

Either option is viable, although the latter is starting to appear about as likely as a stress-free commute in Washington, D.C.

He’s done it before, the pundits will caution. He was 4 up with 18 to play at the Georgia member-member this spring at Augusta National and ballooned to 80, they will warn. He was two clear after the first round last year at St. Andrews and signed for another 80, the crowd will reason.

Yet somehow McIlroy’s play for three muggy days makes those monumental miscues seem like a lifetime ago. You don’t lay 15 birdies, an eagle and just one bogey and a single double bogey onto a U.S. Open venue with your “C” game or a suspect swing.

We jokingly asked U.S. Open doctor Rees Jones his thoughts on McIlroy’s handiwork on his colossus-turned-cupcake layout: “If Rory would have gone to college everything would be OK,” he joked.

Instead, he’s taking all comers to school.

As Graeme McDowell made his way to the scoring room he glanced over his shoulder and gazed at the scoreboard adjacent the practice green – McIlroy 12 under.

“It's just phenomenal. You run out of superlatives to describe what he's doing this week,” said McDowell, whose 69 was solid but will be a footnote in Sunday’s editions back home in Northern Ireland. “He's decimating a field.”

They are calling McIlroy’s handiwork Tiger-esque and comparing this year’s national tilt to that historic gathering in 2000 at Pebble Beach. McIlroy led by six through 36, just like Woods; and his eight-shot advantage over Y.E. Yang is just two shy of Woods’ lead through three rounds. Many believed Woods’ 15-stroke walkover was an unbeatable benchmark. Through 54, however, the only thing that appears untouchable is McIlroy.

Not that Congressional is a complete carbon copy of 2000. To date, McIlroy has 19 fewer PGA Tour victories and two fewer majors than Woods had when he romped at Pebble Beach.

Yet of all the false heirs the media has anointed over the years McIlroy certainly has the tools – length, precision, touch, demeanor and, most importantly, belief.

“He said he was going to win several majors and he believes that,” said Jason Day, who was a playing patron of McIlroy’s for the first three days this year at Augusta National and will begin the final turn nine shots back.

Not even an unfriendly forecast or an overly friendly setup could help narrow a gap made mountain-like by McIlroy’s workmanlike effort. The U.S. Golf Association moved up tees, cut pins in pincushion landing areas and laid Congressional bare to all in an attempt to give the masses a chance to run down Rory.

“That was their goal but the wrong guy shot 6 under (3 under, actually),” Robert Garrigus said. “The only way there’s going to be a tournament is if he does what he did at the Masters and I don’t think he’s going to do that.”

McIlroy said the right things – sports cliché stuff like taking it one shot at a time and he hasn’t accomplished anything yet. All week, in fact, his play in the press room has been nearly as flawless as his on-course performance.

“The more I put myself in this position, the more and more comfortable I'm becoming. I thought today would be a really good indication on how I was going to fare over the whole weekend,” he said.

There are no guarantees when vying for sport’s greatest championships, McIlroy needs to only ask his texting buddy LeBron James about the ills of a three-quarter effort.

For McIlroy, Sunday’s ultimate task will be dealing with the demons of Augusta National, more so than a golf course on the softer side of par or a leaderboard with plenty of pedigree. If he needed proof of that he should look no further than the other side of Saturday’s dinner table.

Westwood began the final round in 2008 at Torrey Pines a stroke behind Woods, signed for a closing 73 and watched Monday’s fireworks from his couch like the rest of the golf world.

Heartbreak has no shelf-life and this U.S. Open is not over, but it is getting late early.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

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Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.


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Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.


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Finances


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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

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