Mighty 'Rors'

By Rex HoggardJune 20, 2011, 2:04 am

BETHESDA, Md. – In a town that has a history of getting ahead of itself uber-agent Chubby Chandler wasn’t taking any chances early Friday when a well-wisher offered him a wildly premature attaboy for his client Rory McIlroy’s historic performance at the U.S. Open.

“Oh no, it’s a long way from being over,” Chandler cautioned.

Forty-eight hours and 36 storybook holes later the thought occurred that McIlroy may just be getting started.

Moments earlier Chandler had received a text message from another one of his major-totting clients Louis Oosthuizen: “Does he think the 10-shot rule means he plays by himself?” No, it only seemed that way on a wet and wild weekend at Congressional.

But then McIlroy made it easy to get carried away. One by one players marched past the apartment-sized leaderboard adjacent the Blue Course’s 18th hole transformed from competitors to lookie loos playing bit parts in a show the game hasn’t seen since . . . well, 2000.

“You just gotta giggle,” Robert Garrigus reasoned when asked his thoughts on McIlroy’s eight-shot advantage after three turns.

The dizzying pace of April’s Masters, when eight players held at least a share of the lead on Sunday, gave way to the clinically cold certainty that was the 111th U.S. Open.

The Northern Irishlad dusted off more history than a Harvard professor. In order:

-His 268 total is lowest in 111 playings of the national tilt.

-At 22 he is the youngest Open champion since Bobby Jones in 1923.

-His 16-under total is the most strokes under par . . . by four shots.

-His 11-under total on the par 4s was the lowest ever.

On and on it went, yet McIlroy’s greatest achievement at Congressional will never show up in the history books, lost amid the blur of his statistical and scoring brilliance was a gutty resilience and an unmistakable answer to a question few others could have mustered enough moxie to answer.

For the record, his closing 69 was just 11 strokes better than that grisly 80 he penned on Sunday at Augusta National, but it may as well have been a 111-shot improvement.

“I was very honest with myself and I knew what I needed to do differently,” said McIlroy, whose card of 65-66-68-69 featured just four of 72 holes played over par. “I had a clear picture in my mind of what I needed to do and where my focus needed to be when I got myself in that position again. And luckily enough for me, I was able to get in that position the major right after Augusta.”

Final-round 80s don’t just wreck tournaments, they have the potential of sinking careers. On Sunday at the Masters there was nowhere for McIlroy to hide. At Congressional he didn’t need to, buoyed by an iron game that found an un-U.S. Open-like 62 of 72 greens in regulation, the most since the USGA began tracking GIR.

By the time McIlroy birdied the par-4 fourth hole on Sunday he was a 10-spot clear of the field, with Steve Sticker the only mover from the too-little-too-late set. When his tee shot at the white-knuckle 10th pitched past the hole and eased back to within 6 inches for a tap-in birdie he was 8 up with eight to play – dormie.

The last person to leave Congressional please turn off the SubAir.

Like that it was match play, with McIlroy 2 up on his Masters’ demons and cruising. But then he knew it was always going to come to that regardless of his cushion or a glaring lack of contenders.

Congressional may have been an “Open Lite,” as some opined, softened by an imperfect storm of hot, dry conditions before the championship and a steady stream of showers during the proceedings, but history detests asterisks.

USGA executive director Mike Davis wanted 14 on the Stimpmeter, not the leaderboard. Instead he got something closer to 12 and 16 (under), respectively.

“I don't think we're going to try to trick Mother Nature. This is what we got in 2011. You come to the U.S. Open in the District of Columbia or in Maryland in June, that's the dice you roll, and that's what we got,” said Tom O’Toole, the chairman of the U.S. Golf Association's championship committee. “We ended up with a soft golf course.”

It was not the test the USGA wanted, but that does not lessen the enormity of McIlroy’s accomplishment.

“It's not amazing that he's going to win a major, but it's amazing how comfortable that he's lapping the field,” Padraig Harrington said. “There might be people capable of winning a major, but there's not too many people capable of dominating and running away from the field in a major.”

So much so that comparisons with Woods’ 15-stroke walkover in the 2000 Open flooded the humid hills. McIlroy was the first wire-to-wire major champion since Trevor Immelman at the 2008 Masters and the first to do it at the U.S. Open since Woods at Pebble Beach. That’s just the tip of the similarities between the bookend Open masterpieces.

McIlroy led by six through 36 holes, same as Woods, and eight through 54 holes, two less than Woods; although his eight-stroke margin of victory was seven shy of Woods’ record romp.

To clarify, McIlroy’s effort was Tiger-esque, Tiger-like even, yet from great victories come greatly exaggerated expectations. Although he looks every bit the heir apparent, even in Sunday’s late gloom the 22 year old emerged as the coolest head.

“It is nice people say he can be this or he can win 20 majors, but at the end of the day I have one,” McIlroy said.

For Trivia Pursuit purposes, Jason Day won the “B” flight, closing with 68 to post his second consecutive Grand Slam runner-up and his third straight top 10 in a major.

If McIlroy’s major climb had a road-map-to-greatness look to it, top-3 finishes in five of the last eight Grand Slams, Day’s is beginning to take on a similar shade, albeit at arm’s length at Congressional.

Not that Lee Westwood’s workmanlike Open resume is much solace. The Englishman, the best player without a major and arguably the best player without a U.S. Open, has played in a dozen U.S. Opens, has three top-5s – including Sunday’s tie for third – and nothing to show for it.

It’s an enigma Phil Mickelson can relate to. Lefty talked like a man poised to break an inexplicable Open schneid, but showed up with a three-quarters swing and never was part of the conversation. He’s is now 0-for-21 in the national championship and running out of time.

That’s baggage McIlroy will now never have to shoulder, a conclusion that seemed inevitable even after that unsightly 80 in April. Late Sunday night following that fateful final round at Augusta National McIlroy, Westwood and Chandler were gathered around the kitchen table at the team’s house when fellow Northern Irishman David Feherty broke the silence.

“I asked him Sunday night of the Masters and I explained to him the thought process I had, what I was thinking, and that I didn’t want it (a major). I said, ‘I can see that you do,’” Feherty said. “He was right back at me, ‘I want it more than you can imagine.’”

Little did any of them know that he would get it sooner than anyone could have imagined.

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.


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.


Playing with the pros

Tiger, DJ and Faxon

Article: Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

Article: After DJ and Tiger, Trump plays golf with Jack

Rory faces criticism

Article: Rory: Round with Trump about respect for presidency

Article: Rory: Round with Trump not a 'political statement'


President at the Presidents Cup


Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

Article: President Trump presents trophy to U.S. team

Article: Stricker: 'Great thrill' to get trophy from Trump


Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73


Cart on the green


Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green


Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open


Article: Trump makes presidential history at Women's Open

Article: Trump supporters, protesters clash near Women's Open

Article: UltraViolet takes protest inside Trump National


Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open


Trump golf properties

Vandalism

Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses

Finances


Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

Reportedly fake TIME covers


Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover


Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

Report: Trump's voter fraud claim tied to Langer

Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up


Pros comment on the president

Article: Players defend Trump at Senior PGA Championship

Article: Trump congratulates Daly; Daly congratulates Trump

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

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