Spieth, McIlroy struggle, but stay in PGA contention

By Will GrayAugust 11, 2017, 12:13 am

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The two men entered the week as heavy favorites, and they left Quail Hollow after the opening round with matching over-par scores.

But on a day where scoring at the PGA Championship more closely resembled that of a U.S. Open, all is not yet lost for Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy.

The two have shared the pre-tournament spotlight, with Spieth gunning for the final leg of the career Grand Slam and McIlroy returning to a course upon which he has feasted like no other. While they both flashed the form needed to lift the Wanamaker Trophy at various points Thursday, they each signed for a 1-over 72 that left them five shots behind Thorbjorn Olesen and Kevin Kisner.

For Spieth, the issue came surprisingly on the greens. After rolling in, what seemed like, miles of putts over his last three starts, Spieth didn’t make anything over 6 feet all day. The recently-renovated Bermuda greens vexed many players in the field, and even one of the PGA Tour’s best putters was not immune.

“I can’t putt any worse than I did today,” Spieth said. “The score won’t be any higher than it was today if I’m driving the ball like I did today.”


PGA Championship: Scores | Live blog: Day 1 | Full coverage


McIlroy was also flummoxed from short range, missing everything outside 6 feet, but his problems extended to the tee as well. The Ulsterman bogeyed each of the first three par-3s he faced Thursday, and after clawing his way to 2 under for the round suffered a costly double bogey on the drivable par-4 14th after hooking his tee shot into the water and flubbing a chip.

“Played that stretch of holes, 13, 14, 15, in 3 over,” McIlroy said. “So if I just could have had that three-hole stretch back, but I think other than that I played nicely. Did what I needed to do.”

It was an oddly positive refrain to hear from a top-ranked player coming off an over-par round. The PGA has traditionally been a place where excitement is built one birdie at a time, and by week’s end the leaderboard is awash with red figures. This tournament hasn’t crowned a winner who failed to break par in the first round since Y.E. Yang in 2009.

But with forecasted rain staying away, the sub-air system sucked any remaining moisture right out of the ground at Quail Hollow. What resulted was a long layout with thick, penal Bermuda rough and greens that ranged from “dicey” to “absurd” depending on who you asked.

It added up to an unusually jam-packed leaderboard, as no player shot 5 under or better in the opening round of a PGA for the first time since Oakland Hills in 2008. It also means that Spieth and McIlroy remain firmly in contention heading into a pivotal second round.

That particular fact was not lost on the two-time PGA champ.

“I can see a low one out there. It’s just a matter of not shooting yourself in the foot too often like I did today,” McIlroy said. “I’m only five behind. Four under is the best score out there, and it’s a tough golf course. I shoot something in the 60s tomorrow, move right up there. So yeah, I’m in it.”

None of Spieth’s 11 career Tour wins have included over-par openers, but he at least gave himself a chance to break that trend with his closing stretch. While it wasn’t on the level of his salvage at Royal Birkdale, Spieth was 3 over and already at risk of a missed cut after a three-putt bogey on the sixth hole, his 15th of the day.

Just as caddie Michael Greller intervened with a pep talk during the final round of The Open, Spieth again credited Greller for offering some timely encouragement before heading to the next tee.

“When we were at 3 over, he said, ‘Grind these last few. You had a chance to win Augusta and we were in worse position at this point.’” Spieth said. “And he was spot-on.”

Spieth responded with birdies on each of the next two holes to not only return to the fringe of contention but escape with a bit of momentum on a day when big names like Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose and Phil Mickelson essentially saw their title chances come to an abrupt end.

Sure, there were loose shots and missed opportunities, more than either would have preferred. But despite their respective stumbles, Spieth and McIlroy each enter the second round equipped with a realistic chance to win.

And after starting in the black, a chance is more than either could have hoped for.

“We’re still looking at single digits winning this tournament, I imagine, and potentially 6 under, something like that,” Spieth said. “Somebody could really get it going, but if that doesn’t happen then it’s definitely single digits.”

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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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