McIlroy enjoying ride back to the top

By Rex HoggardAugust 8, 2014, 9:23 pm

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – This isn’t about driving accuracy or even driving distance, although that simple statistic seems to provide a neat bow when explaining Rory McIlroy’s current run of brilliance.

It’s not the Northern Irishman’s drastically improved putting or even that 3 additional kilos of muscle he’s packed on in recent months. Nor does this have anything to do with his relationship status, which publically and dramatically went from committed to carefree with his broken engagement to Caroline Wozniacki in May.

McIlroy’s dominant run through the dog days is the direct result of peace of mind. A sport’s psychologist will charge $200 an hour to identify it, but at its core the world No. 1 is playing well because of a rediscovered clarity of thought.

“It’s fun. It is fun,” he said on Friday after scorching a soggy Valhalla Golf Club with a second-round 67 for a one-shot lead at the PGA Championship.

If Bubba Golf is an “A ticket” thrill ride filled with equal parts peaks and valleys, Rory Golf, at its best, is a joy ride. Towering drives, flawless approach shots, deft lag-putting and lots of smiles.


PGA Championship: Articles, videos and photos


McIlroy’s Friday wasn’t perfect, he missed five consecutive greens starting at the second hole, and he freely admitted his Day 2 “wasn’t quite as pretty as (Day 1)” but there was no mistaking the fact that it was fun.

Analysts, be they armchair or otherwise, will continue to dissect the differences between 2014 McIlroy – who has won three of his last seven starts, including July’s Open Championship and his World Golf Championship tune-up last week in Akron – and the 2013 version, but what is right with Rory can’t be found on a TrackMan or in the PGA Tour’s ShotLink program.

“What I really like is he’s got his emotions under control. He doesn’t look like anything is coming too fast to him,” said Dave Stockton Sr., McIlroy’s putting coach. “This time it’s, ‘Keep having fun.’ Everybody talks about swing, I can’t comprehend hitting the ball as far as he does, but I can comprehend the mental strength I saw at the British and last week at Firestone.”

A case can be made that McIlroy’s newfound peace is at the least an indirect result of his split with Wozniacki. The 25-year-old seemed to suggest as much on Friday.

“What else do I have to do?” he figured. “I get up in the morning I go to the course, I go to the gym. It’s my life at the moment.”

And at the moment life is good.

There was a foreboding feeling across Valhalla that had nothing to do with a forecast that lingered on the horrible side of bad for much of the day. If Friday was McIlroy’s “bad day” the golf world may be bound for another runaway major victory like the one he pieced together last month at Royal Liverpool.

We enjoyed this show the first time we saw it, at the 2011 U.S. Open, and the encores in ’12 at Kiawah Island and this year at Hoylake. The difference this time is the careful way he has embraced greatness.

All the talent in the world doesn’t assure results, look only to Dustin Johnson whose physical superiority has been undercut by off-course distractions and dubious decisions.

There is no backdoor to a quiet mind, which McIlroy learned throughout a difficult 2013 when he failed to win a PGA Tour title and was questioned for everything from his decision to make a wholesale jump to Nike Golf to a series of curious legal battles with former agents.

Slowly, methodically McIlroy has distanced himself from that noise and the result has been increasingly stellar results even when his game was not at its best like on Friday.

After a sloppy start in increasingly sloppy conditions, McIlroy rolled in a 31 footer for eagle at the 18th hole (his ninth hole of the day) to move two strokes clear of the field.

In what is becoming his signature bounce-back style, he followed another bogey at the second hole when he missed a fairway for the first time since June, or at least it seems that long, by playing his last three holes in 2 under par, including a majestic 5-wood from 242 yards at the par-5 seventh to 8 feet for a two-putt birdie.

“It was very impressive and hard to beat,” said Martin Kaymer, one of McIlroy’s playing partners who knows a thing or two about impressive golf following his boat-race triumph at June’s U.S. Open. “He is by far the best player in the world.”

A decade ago competitors were uttering the same words about Tiger Woods, and while comparisons to the former world No. 1 remain wildly unrealistic the like-minded singular focus demonstrated both players when they are at their best is uncanny.

“Mentally I’m in a really solid place in terms of not getting ahead of myself on the golf course,” McIlroy said. “I’m just on a good run.”

Or, put another way he’s just in a good place.

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Rose leads halted Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters when bad weather stopped play Friday during the second round.

The Englishman, who shot a 10-under 62 on Thursday, had completed 13 holes and was 5 under on the day at the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat (64) was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew wit on the 11th hole at 2 under for the day after shooting an opening 72.

There was no reason given for his withdrawal, but the American has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season. 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.

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.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


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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By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm

Spieth, Thomas headline winter break trip to Cabo

By Grill Room TeamDecember 15, 2017, 1:05 am

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. Really good at golf. Really good at vacationing.

With #SB2K18 still months away, Thomas and Spieth headlined a vacation to Cabo San Lucas, and this will shock you but it looks like they had a great time.

Spring break veteran Smylie Kaufman joined the party, as did Thomas' roommate, Tom Lovelady, who continued his shirtless trend.

The gang played all the hits, including shoeless golf in baketball jerseys and late nights with Casamigos tequila.

Image via tom.lovelady on Instagram.

In conclusion, it's still good to be these guys.