After huge year, McIlroy hungry for more

By Associated PressJanuary 14, 2015, 10:29 pm

Rory McIlroy isn't divulging what is on his list of seven goals for 2015 that he jotted down on the back of his boarding pass on a flight to Dubai last week.

Completing a career Grand Slam at the Masters in April? Surely that was No. 1. A court case against his former management company, scheduled for February, is also a defining early year date for the world's top-ranked player.

Winning this week's Abu Dhabi Championship may not have been on the list, but it would end years of frustration for McIlroy at what has become his traditional year-opening tournament.

McIlroy has finished second at Abu Dhabi Golf Club in three of the last four years. On two of those occasions, he was hit with rule penalties that ultimately cost him victory.

''One of the goals this week is just to have no penalty shots when I don't need them,'' he said. ''And see where I end up at the end of the week.''

Losing out to Spain's Pablo Larrazabal in a thrilling end to last year's tournament was one of the few regrets for McIlroy in a stunning 2014.

He won the British Open and the PGA Championship to double his tally of major titles, returned to the top of the rankings, and was one of the stars of the European team that retained the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles.

McIlroy wants more.

''I didn't achieve everything that I wanted to last year,'' he said.

It has become something of a ritual for him to write down his objectives for the season on his boarding pass on his flight out for his first tournament of the year. He puts the list in his wallet and memorizes it.

''I'll take that boarding pass out at the end of the year and see how well I've done,'' McIlroy said.

''I feel 2014 has really set me up for another great year. I'm coming in with a nice little bit of momentum, and (my) game is feeling good.''

With McIlroy having had a month off, his rivals in Abu Dhabi will hope Boy Wonder is rusty.

It is another strong field, with No. 2 Henrik Stenson, U.S. Open champion Martin Kaymer, No. 6 Justin Rose and American star Rickie Fowler - making his debut in the desert - among the other entries.

McIlroy and Fowler are in the same group for the first two days, marking the first time they have played together since the singles at the Ryder Cup. McIlroy put on an awesome performance that Sunday, winning 5 and 4.

Kaymer is a three-time winner (2008, '10 and '11) in Abu Dhabi, and was one stroke off first place in 2009. The German is one of the few players to have a better record on the course than McIlroy, who was third in 2010 and tied for fifth in 2009 before his run of runner-up finishes.

''It's a golf course I've always felt comfortable on, one that has suited me, and I have played well here,'' McIlroy said. ''This is my eighth year in a row starting the season off here, so I'm pretty familiar with the place, and looking forward to another strong start to the season.''

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Mullinax fires course-record 62 at Valero

By Will GrayApril 21, 2018, 9:01 pm

Trey Mullinax surged into contention during the third round of the Valero Texas Open, shooting a 10-under 62 that set a new course record on the AT&T Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio.

Mullinax started the day seven shots off the pace, but by the time he completed his round he had taken a one-shot lead with the overnight leaders still on the course. The former Alabama standout caught fire on the back nine, shooting a 7-under 29 despite a bogey after chip-ins for eagle on No. 14 and birdie on No. 16 to go along with an eagle on the home hole.

"It's probably one of the best rounds I've ever had," Mullinax told reporters. "To go out there and shoot 62 on a hard golf course is really good."

Mullinax appeared headed for a missed cut after a 74 in the opening round, but he bounced back with a second-round 68 to earn a weekend tee time and his third-round score broke the previous course record of 63 held by multiple players.

The 25-year-old finished 137th in FedExCup points last season, leaving him with only conditional status this season. His lone top-10 finish of the year came at the Valspar Championship, where he survived a Monday qualifier and went on to tie for eighth, and this marks only his third start since the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in February.

"Obviously I would like to play a little more, but the tournaments I get in, I'm really excited about playing golf," Mullinax said. "I've loved every start I've gotten, and I'm very thankful to be in the position I'm in."

Mullinax holed a putt to clinch a national title for the Crimson Tide in 2014, and he finished T-9 at last year's U.S. Open at Erin Hills. But success has been fleeting among the professional ranks, meaning Sunday's opportunity to notch a career-best finish or breakthrough victory is nothing short of enticing.

"I'm sure you'll be nervous," Mullinax said. "To have a chance to win or just go play good golf is what I came here for, so that's what I'm going to do."

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Quiros maintains one-shot lead through 54 in Morocco

By Associated PressApril 21, 2018, 7:46 pm

RABAT, Morocco - A birdie on the last hole gave Alvaro Quiros a one-shot lead after three rounds of the Trophee Hassan II.

Quiros' birdie on No. 18 allowed the Spanish golfer to sign for an even-par 72 on Saturday to stay at 7-under par overall and clear of four players in second place.

South African pair Erik van Rooyen and Christiaan Bezuidenhout, France's Alexander Levy, and Finland's Mikko Ilonen were just a shot behind at 6 under heading into the final day at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam in Rabat.

Quiros is a seven-time winner on the European Tour, but went six years without a victory until last year with his triumph at the Rocco Forte Open in Italy.


Full-field scores from the Trophee Hassan II


He's seeking a wire-to-wire victory in Morocco after sharing the first-round lead with Bradley Dredge before taking it outright on Day 2.

Quiros had an on-off day in the third round - he said it was ''suddenly great shot, suddenly not so good'' - and carded four birdies and four bogeys to come out even and still hold on to his lead.

Van Rooyen shot 71, Bezuidenhout 68, Levy a 69, and Ilonen the best round of the week so far with his 6-under 66.

Ilonen had seven birdies and just a single bogey - on his first hole - to leap 23 places up the leaderboard and into contention for a first tour title since 2014 when he won the World Match Play Championship.

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M. Jutanugarn eyeing first win with L.A. Open lead

By Associated PressApril 21, 2018, 1:50 am

LOS ANGELES - Moriya Jutanugarn took the lead into the weekend at the Hugel-JTBC L.A. Open in her latest bid to join younger sister Ariya as an LPGA winner.

Moriya Jutanugarn shot a bogey-free 5-under 66 on Friday at Wilshire Country Club to get to 8-under 134 in the LPGA Tour's first event in Los Angeles since 2005. The 23-year-old from Thailand started fast with birdies on the par-5 second, par-4 third and par-3 fourth and added two more on the par-4 11th and par-5 13th.

Ariya Jutanugarn has seven LPGA victories.

Marina Alex was second after a 68.


Full-field scores from the Hugel-JTBC Open


So Yeon Ryu was 6 under after a 69, and fellow South Korean players Inbee Park(71) and Eun-Hee Ji (69). Park was the first-round leader at 66. Lexi Thompsonwas 3 under after a 71.

Top-ranked Shanshan Feng followed her opening 74 with a 67 to get to 1 under.

Ariya Jutanugarn (71) was even par, and Michelle Wie (70) was 1 over. Brooke Henderson, the Canadian star who won last week in Hawaii, had a 79 to miss the cut.

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Garcia tosses driver, misses Valero cut

By Will GrayApril 21, 2018, 1:00 am

It wasn't quite to the level of his watery meltdown earlier this month at the Masters, but Sergio Garcia still got frustrated during the second round of the Valero Texas Open - and his driver paid the price.

Garcia had a hand in redesigning the AT&T Oaks Course along with Greg Norman several years ago, but this marked his first return to TPC San Antonio since 2010. After an opening-round 74, Garcia arrived to the tee of the short par-4 fifth hole and decided to get aggressive with driver in hand.

When his shot sailed well left, a heated Garcia chucked the club deep into the bushes that lined the tee box:

It took considerable effort for Garcia to find and retrieve the club amid the branches, and once he did things only got worse. He appeared to shank a chip once he got up to his ball, leading to a bogey on one of the easiest holes on a demanding track.

Garcia closed out his round with four straight pars, and at 2 over he eventually missed the cut by a shot. It marks the first time he has missed consecutive cuts on the PGA Tour since 2003, when he sat out the weekend at the AT&T Byron Nelson, Fort Worth Invitational and Memorial Tournament in successive weeks.

Garcia entered the week ranked No. 10 in the world, and he was the only top-20 player among the 156-man field. He missed the cut at the Masters in defense of his title after carding an octuple-bogey 13 on the 15th hole during the opening round.