McIlroy's road to Masters gets off to a rough start

By Will GrayFebruary 27, 2015, 11:10 pm

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – All signs pointed toward another successful week for the world’s best golfer.

Rory McIlroy arrived at the Honda Classic unencumbered by off-course baggage, his lawsuit with his former management company now settled.

He arrived in peak form, having won in Dubai four weeks ago.

He arrived at a course where he had won three years ago and probably should have won last year.

His six-week journey to Magnolia Lane appeared clear, as he prepared to kick off a stretch of three starts to complete his prep for the Masters, where he hopes to complete the career grand slam.

Then in the course of 36 holes at PGA National, he showed his mortality.

McIlroy dug himself a hole with an opening-round 73 amid blustery conditions, then was unable to rebound during a second round that was twice interrupted by lengthy weather delays. He limped home, with three bogeys across his final four holes for a 74, and made little effort to disguise his emotions after posting a 7-over 147 total.

“I’m pissed off,” he said. “I don’t like missing cuts. You want to be playing on the weekend, and I’m not there.”

A missed cut has become a rarity for McIlroy during his most recent ascent to the top of the world rankings. His previous MC came last summer at the European Tour’s Irish Open, while his most recent one on the PGA Tour came at the 2013 Open Championship at Muirfield.

For a missed cut on U.S. soil you have to go back even further, to the 2012 U.S. Open, while McIlroy last missed the cut on Tour in a non-major at the 2012 Memorial Tournament.

Of course, those stats don’t include his bizarre walk-off two years ago at PGA National, when his title defense ended nine holes short of an official missed cut because of golf’s most infamous toothache.

Honda Classic: Articles, videos and photos

While this week’s early exit was more conventional than that of 2013, the fact remains that McIlroy’s downhill coast to Augusta National has hit a speed bump.

“Usually I’m good at taking it from the range to the course. That’s never really been a problem with me,” McIlroy said. “But this week, it was funny, it felt like the first tournament of the season when I’ve actually played two events.”

McIlroy’s week began with a lost ball on his opening hole, and he never truly recovered. While he hit only 50 percent of the greens for 36 holes on the Champion Course, his inability to score Friday was rooted in his putting.

McIlroy required 31 putts, and a 6-foot par save on No. 12 turned out to be his longest made putt of the round. With a missed cut already assured, his day ended appropriately with a miss from 3 1/2 feet on No. 9, resulting in his first three-putt of the round.

“I feel like it was more the reads,” McIlroy said. “I felt like I was hitting some good putts. Just didn’t quite go in.”

While the full-field stats will reflect that McIlroy received an unfavorable draw, playing in the strongest winds Thursday afternoon and then enduring sloppy conditions Friday morning, others were able to thrive under similar circumstances. Tournament leader Patrick Reed shot consecutive rounds of 67 playing in the group in front of McIlroy, while Brooks Koepka fired a second-round 64 playing in McIlroy’s group.

“It’s surprising,” Koepka said of McIlroy’s missed cut. “He’s the best player in the world right now. Any time he struggles, I think it would be a shock to everyone.”

McIlroy will have little time to contemplate his struggles, as the first WGC event of the year looms next week just down the Florida Turnpike at Trump National Doral. There he will be greeted by another stern test, albeit one that will at least guarantee him four competitive rounds.

“Coming off three weeks off, and playing in conditions like these, it sort of shows you where your game’s at,” he said. “Just got to regroup and put some work in and get ready for Miami next week.”

When prompted, McIlroy insists that he is not yet thinking about the Masters – that his focus remains on the task at hand, as will be the case next week at Doral. But the season’s first major draws ever nearer, and McIlroy is now faced with his first set of on-course concerns.

The stage will be largely his next month at Augusta National, as he looks to win a third consecutive major and capture the biggest title that has eluded him.

Whether he can right his ship before next week’s event – or more importantly, the one that looms less than six weeks away – remains to be seen.

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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 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.

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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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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

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