McIlroy's money remarks off-putting, but honest

By Rex HoggardSeptember 25, 2015, 10:02 pm

ATLANTA – To pluck a phrase from the modern lexicon, this week at East Lake is all about making it rain, and not just the steady drizzle that put a damper on the PGA Tour’s swansong on Friday.

In theory, players have 10 million reasons to take this week, and these playoffs, seriously. It's a financial reward that would be life changing for your average 9-to-5’er.

This week’s FedEx Cup champion will collect a $10 million bonus – which is actually $9 million in cash and another $1 million in deferred retirement benefits – in addition to their Tour Championship earnings, which in the case of Billy Horschel last year added up to an $11.44 million.

Not a bad gig if you can get it.

The powers that be at the PGA Tour have used the multi-million dollar carrot to purport the importance of the postseason and this week’s ATM Open, but then this is the same group that traded earnings as the game’s ultimate litmus test for points when they invented the playoffs.

The problem with using money as motivation for the game’s top stars is that golf, at least at the highest competitive levels, is a victim of its own success.

It was the point Rory McIlroy was trying to make this week when he was asked what impact the $10 million prize would have on him late Sunday if he found himself in contention.

The fallout from McIlroy’s comment, at least in the social media space, has been swift and severe; but in his defense, it’s an opinion he’s come by honestly and shares with many of his Tour frat brothers.

There is also something to be said for taking McIlroy’s words in their entirety and full context, which is not always the case in a sound-bite society.


Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos


“Luckily, that amount of money doesn't sort of mean much to me anymore,"  he said on Wednesday. "It will go in the bank and if I want to buy something nice, I will. It's nice to think that you could win $10 million this week, but that's not what excites me.”

“It excites me to play well and to try and win. And the FedEx Cup is one of the only things that I haven't put on my golf CV, and that would be more exciting to do than walk away with a check.”

While those living paycheck to paycheck may bristle, financial security came early for McIlroy and many modern professionals.

In just his fifth full year on Tour, he’s earned $28 million in prize money. In 2013, he signed a five-year deal with Nike that is reportedly worth between $100 million and $200 million. He also has lucrative endorsement deals with Omega and Bose and regularly collects six- and seven-figure appearance fees.

Moreover, McIlroy’s take isn't unique among the game’s best and brightest when it comes to the big bonus.

“I haven't thought a whole lot of how a little bit may be used in the near future, but I think the biggest thing is trying to cap off a great year so far,” Rickie Fowler said.

Henrik Stenson, who won the season-long race and $10 million jackpot in 2013, was also less interested in the payday than he was his performance.

“If you are thinking too much about the outcome and the money, that's going to be in your way,” Stenson said. “I am just going to go out and try my hardest and hopefully give myself a chance to make it two in three years. I'm sure we can figure out a way to spend a bit of money if we come to that point.”

Even Jason Day, who is notoriously frugal with his finances, didn’t put much thought into how the super-sized check would change his lifestyle.

“I might buy a few more V-neck [sweaters] from Target. That's usually what I do, right? I don't really spend money, mate,” said Day, who began the week perched atop the FedEx Cup point list.

Sergio Garcia spoke clearly through his actions this postseason when he skipped the first two FedEx stops to rest, a move that kept him from advancing to the Tour Championship.

McIlroy’s comments certainly qualify as clunky, which is surprising considering that the four-time major champion has proven himself particularly savvy when it comes to avoiding media miscues. But the only thing you need to know about the 26-year-old is that his current views on wealth have nothing to do with what was by any measure a salt-of-the-earth upbringing in a Belfast suburb.

McIlroy’s father, Gerry, worked three jobs, and his mother, Rosie, worked too to give young Rory a chance to pursue his golf dreams. Holywood Golf Club, where he learned to play the game, is squarely on the blue collar side of the country club scene.

McIlroy certainly could have chosen his words more carefully regarding the possible financial windfall that awaits on Sunday, but he couldn’t have been more honest or more correct.

Getty Images

Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.


Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

Getty Images

Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

Getty Images

Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

He's making his first start in the event.

''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

Getty Images

Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

How rare is his missing the cut there?

The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.