Hooks & Cuts: Royal romp

By Rich LernerJuly 17, 2012, 10:18 pm

Here is the latest version of Hooks and Cuts as we’re on the cusp of the 141st Open Championship, at Royal Lytham & St. Annes:

• When the number of bunkers begins to approach the total weight loss of a contestant on “Biggest Loser,” you know you’re on a tough layout. Two hundred five is a big number.

• I get that Tiger Woods' recent major record is not what we’d grown accustomed to seeing five years ago, but to question whether or not he’s back is preposterous. Three wins for anyone else by mid July and we’d be throwing around terms like superstar, career season and player of the year.

• With its banks on trial, economic austerity measures a grim reality, and Andy Murray’s Wimbledon fairytale fizzling, the Kingdom could use a ray of sunshine, which in July in England is rainy and 55. Welcome to the Open.

• When Rory McIlroy whined about the wind and rain last year you thought, hmmm, the youngster needs a stern lecture from the godfather of golf in Northern Ireland, Darren Clarke, like Don Corleone barking to Johnny Fontane in the epic movie, “You can act like a man!” Rory had said there’s no point in changing your game for one week a year. Well there is, if you value winning the oldest trophy in the game. To his credit, Rory admits his attitude was born of frustration and that he’s now prepared to embrace the elements.

• Phil Mickelson went almost two decades at a loss on the links, but now seems to grasp that to really burnish his legacy he needs to win a British and he came close a year ago by reveling in it. Suddenly the guy who grew up in weather paradise in San Diego loves the nasty stuff. Maybe he should’ve bought the Seattle Mariners instead of his hometown Padres.

• Trying to figure out who will win is futile, since Louis and Clarke - as well as that other tandem of unknown explorers Tod Hamilton and Ben Curtis - were on no one’s radar and radar’s especially hard to decipher in bad weather.

• Let it blow, let it lash at them and we’ll see who’s stout of heart. Rain at the British is as good as snow at Lambeau. It defines toughness.

• Padraig Harrington’s a fashionable choice. I always recall what he said three years ago: “I have never been the most naturally gifted golfer but I have a strong mental capacity to compete.'

• Round 1 at a British usually delivers the unknown Scandinavian to the top of the manual yellow and black scoreboard, like a Lars Skundelgard or a Sven Stunstublorv.

• Tiger tees off just after 4:30 a.m. Eastern time. That’s perfect, just when those of us men of a certain age are bouncing out of bed for our first Avodart moment of the day.

• Lee Westwood and Luke Donald are currently the best without a major, but no one needs one more than Sergio Garcia.

• With brutal rough in spots and those 205 bunkers, your average 15 handicap shoots what at Lytham? Do they break 150? I’m not so sure.

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Rose: 'Never' has Rory putted as well as Bay Hill

By Ryan LavnerMarch 19, 2018, 1:20 am

ORLANDO, Fla. – Justin Rose didn’t need to ponder the question for very long.

The last time Rory McIlroy putted that well was, well …?

“Never,” Rose said with a chuckle. “Ryder Cup? He always makes it look easy when he’s playing well.”

And the Englishman did well just to try and keep pace.

After playing his first six holes in 4 over par, Rose battled not just to make the cut but to contend. He closed with consecutive rounds of 67, finishing in solo third, four shots back of McIlroy at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Rose said this weekend was the best he’s struck the ball all year. He just didn’t do enough to overtake McIlroy, who finished the week ranked first in strokes gained-putting and closed with a bogey-free 64.

“Rory just played incredible golf, and it’s great to see world-class players do that,” Rose said. “It’s not great to see him make putts because he was making them against me, but when he is, he’s incredibly hard to beat. So it was fun to watch him play.”

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Rory almost channels Tiger with 72nd-hole celebration

By Ryan LavnerMarch 19, 2018, 1:11 am

ORLANDO, Fla. – Rory McIlroy’s final putt at the Arnold Palmer Invitational felt awfully familiar.

He rolled in the 25-footer for birdie and wildly pumped his fist, immediately calling to mind Woods’ heroics on Bay Hill’s 18th green.

Three times Woods holed a putt on the final green to win this event by a stroke.

Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

McIlroy was just happy to provide a little extra cushion as the final group played the finishing hole.

“I’ve seen Tiger do that enough times to know what it does,” McIlroy said. “So I just wanted to try and emulate that. I didn’t quite give it the hat toss – I was thinking about doing that. But to be able to create my own little bit of history on the 18th green here is pretty special.”

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McIlroy remembers Arnie dinner: He liked A-1 sauce on fish

By Will GrayMarch 19, 2018, 1:06 am

ORLANDO, Fla. – Fresh off a stirring victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Rory McIlroy offered a pair of culinary factoids about two of the game’s biggest names.

McIlroy regretted not being able to shake Palmer’s hand behind the 18th green after capping a three-shot win with a Sunday 64, but with the trophy in hand he reflected back on a meal he shared with Palmer at Bay Hill back in 2015, the year before Palmer passed away.

“I knew that he liked A-1 sauce on his fish, which was quite strange,” McIlroy said. “I remember him asking the server, ‘Can I get some A-1 sauce?’ And the server said, ‘For your fish, Mr. Palmer?’ He said, ‘No, for me.’”

Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

A few minutes later, McIlroy revealed that he is also a frequent diner at The Woods Jupiter, the South Florida restaurant launched by Tiger Woods. In fact, McIlroy explained that he goes to the restaurant every Wednesday with his parents – that is, when he’s not spanning the globe winning golf tournaments.

Having surveyed the menu a few times, he considers himself a fan.

“It’s good. He seems pretty hands-on with it,” McIlroy said. “Tuna wontons are good, the lamb lollipops are good. I recommend it.”

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DeChambeau comes up short: 'Hat’s off to Rory'

By Will GrayMarch 19, 2018, 12:48 am

ORLANDO, Fla. – Amid a leaderboard chock full of big names and major winners, the person that came closest to catching Rory McIlroy at the Arnold Palmer Invitational turned out to by Bryson DeChambeau.

While Henrik Stenson faltered and Justin Rose stalled out, it was DeChambeau that gave chase to McIlroy coming down the stretch at Bay Hill. Birdies on Nos. 12 and 13 were followed by an eagle out of the rough on No. 16, which brought him to within one shot of the lead.

But as DeChambeau surveyed his birdie putt from the fringe on the penultimate hole, McIlroy put an effective end to the proceedings with a closing birdie of his own to polish off a round of 64. DeChambeau needed a hole-out eagle on No. 18 to force a playoff, and instead made bogey.

That bogey ultimately didn’t have an effect on the final standings, as DeChambeau finished alone in second place at 15 under, three shots behind McIlroy after shooting a 4-under 68.

“I thought 15 under for sure would win today,” DeChambeau said. “Rory obviously played some incredible golf. I don’t know what he did on the last nine, but it was deep. I know that.”

Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

DeChambeau will collect $961,000 for his performance this week in Orlando, just $47,000 less than he got for winning the John Deere Classic in July. While he would have preferred to take McIlroy’s spot in the winner’s circle, DeChambeau was pleased with his effort in Sunday’s final pairing as he sets his sights on a return to the Masters.

“For him to shoot 64 in the final round, that’s just, hat’s off to him, literally. I can’t do anything about that,” DeChambeau said. “I played some great golf, had some great up-and-downs, made a couple key putts coming down the stretch, and there’s not really much more I can do about it. My hat’s off to Rory, and he played fantastic.”