Putter proves problematic for McIlroy

By Will GrayMarch 19, 2015, 10:58 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – So…how’s your bracket looking? Completely obliterated, or only partially on fire?

While much of the country was transfixed by the annual upset-strewn (and bracket-busting) opening day of the NCAA basketball tournament, golf’s No. 1 seed took center stage Thursday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. In his first start at Bay Hill, Rory McIlroy gave himself opportunity after opportunity, only to brick a bevy of wide-open birdie looks.

His 2-under 70 didn’t do him much damage; unlike the NCAA Tournament, you can't get bounced from Bay Hill on Thursday. McIlroy sits just four shots behind leader Morgan Hoffmann. But his initial post-round reaction was simply to purse his lips behind the 18th green as he recounted all the putts that failed to drop.

“It could have been much better,” McIlroy said.

Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, videos and photos

Make no mistake, there were signs of progress. Gone were the flared drives that led to a missed cut at the Honda Classic. And his 3-iron avoided the watery fate of its predecessor two weeks ago at Doral.

McIlroy was quick to point out that the work he put in alongside coach Michael Bannon last week has already begun to pay dividends, and the stat line bears that out: 10 of 14 fairways hit, and 17 of 18 greens in regulation. Were it not for an ill-fated approach to No. 16, the Ulsterman could have become the first player to go 18 for 18 at Bay Hill since Mike Hulbert in 1995.

But while he made it look easy from tee to green, there was nothing easy about his time on the putting surfaces, which will be replaced this summer and can be described as slow at best.

McIlroy took 34 putts, losing more than half a shot to the field. He made only two putts longer than 5 feet - a 17-foot birdie try on No. 8 and a 14-footer on No. 18 to close his round. He didn’t make a single birdie in between.

“I guess when the greens are like they are, you’re going to have to stay patient because you’re going to hit good putts that don’t go in,” McIlroy said. “I felt like I didn’t trust myself with some of the putts that are there today. I didn’t trust the reads and just was sort of in two minds quite a lot.”

McIlroy’s only errant approach led to his only bogey. Bunkered off the tee on No. 16 – a hole that host Arnold Palmer described Wednesday as a “weak par-5” – McIlroy eschewed an easy layup and opted to go for the green. He found water instead.

“I had 180-something [yards] to the front. It was nothing,” he said. “It wasn’t a great lie, but because the ball was below my feet I was expecting it to squirt out a little right.”

Despite the hiccups, don’t expect McIlroy to grind out 10-footers on the putting green – he had a pending a dinner date with the tournament host, after all. And while his opening round proved frustrating, McIlroy continues to keep at least part of his attention on his next start, where the green speeds could make Bay Hill seem like shag carpet.

“I’ve got two weeks from here until Augusta to practice my putting and get acquainted with the greens that are of a similar speed,” he said. “It will be nice to putt well here to get myself back in the tournament, but if I keep hitting good shots like I did today, then hopefully the putts will fall. I just need to stay as patient as I can.”

Yes, patience – the trait that will be preached by college basketball coaches across the country this weekend. McIlroy appears to have that in spades right now, to go along with some nearly flawless ball striking.

If the putts begin to drop, he could really start playing like a No. 1 seed.

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Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.

Masters victory

Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative

Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ

Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket

Man of the people

Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief

Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together

Ace at 17th at Sawgrass

Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018

Departure from TaylorMade

Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade

Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'

Victory at Valderrama

Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm
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Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

Well, this is a one new one.

According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.