McIlroy opinions spun into criticism of Tiger

By Associated PressMarch 8, 2011, 9:25 pm

DORAL, Florida (AP)—One of the brightest young stars in golf, Rory McIlroy hasbeen making news over the last few weeks for giving his opinion on Tiger Woods ,and there really isn’t much good to say about the game of the No. 5 player inthe world.

Yet the perception is that McIlroy is taking one too many jabs at Woods, andthat he is soon to join the list of players whose criticism comes back to hauntthem.

But that assumes it was criticism in the first place.

In an essay under McIlroy’s byline in Sports Illustrated’s “Golf Plus”section, McIlroy said that Woods is not playing as well as he did a couple ofyears ago, let alone a decade ago when no one was close to him in the game.

“I’m not sure we are going to see him dominate again the way he did,”McIlroy said in the essay. “He never seemed like he would make a mistake. It’snot that he’s playing badly. He’s simply playing badly by Tiger’s standards.He’s playing like an ordinary golfer. People expect more of him because of whathe has achieved.”

Indeed, there are questions as to whether Woods can rule golf the way he didin 2000, when his nine wins included three straight majors. Or the way he didafter his father died in 2006, when he won 18 of 33 tournaments worldwide, fourof eight majors and had a seven-month stretch without ever losing.

Can anything else be disputed?

The problem is that Woods, through a dozen years of unprecedented dominance,has created a culture of being off limits to other players giving honestanswers.

And remember, answers usually are the product of a question.

This only looks bad on two counts. One is that it’s easy to pile on Woodsright now, even though he has only himself to blame. The other is that thecommentary is coming from a 21-year-old with all of two career victories, whohas never faced Woods at his best.

“That’s the answer a 21-year-old would give, isn’t it?” Lee Westwood saidlast week with a smile. “I think having played with Tiger since 1997 orsomething like that … there’s an old saying that class is permanent and formis fickle. He’s the classiest player I’ve ever played with and I’d be wiseenough to know not to write him off.

“I’ve seen him play poorly and win tournaments,” Westwood said. “Hedoesn’t necessarily have to get back to where he was.”

And then he whimsically added, “I’ll have a word with Rory later.”

Last year, McIlroy talked about Woods before the Ryder Cup, when theAmerican had yet to be added to the U.S. team as a captain’s pick. In aninterview with an Irish newspaper, he said he expected Woods to be in Wales.

“I would love to face him,” McIlroy said. “Unless his game rapidlyimproves … I think anyone in the European team would fancy their chancesagainst him.”

The interview took place a week after Woods finished next-to-last atFirestone, where he had won seven times and never finished out of the top 10.Woods had his worst 72-hole score as a professional that week. He didn’t lookcapable of beating anyone.

A month later, there were rumors swirling around Cog Hill that Woods hadtold McIlroy, “Be careful what you wish for.” Woods denied that, although hewas aware of the comments. And while he mentioned McIlroy in context withStephen Ames , Woods also gave the kid a break. “At least Rory said, ‘Unless mygame improves,”’ Woods said, a concession to fact.

The reference to Ames came from the 2006 Match Play Championship, when Ameswas the No. 64 seed and jokingly said on the practice range about his chances,“Anything can happen—especially where he’s hitting the ball.”

It was harmless humor, although the quote became far more serious in the“lift, clean and paste” era of the Internet that eliminated all context. Askedabout it after the match, Woods only mentioned the score—9 and 8.

There have been others. Rory Sabbatini once said Woods looked as “beatableas ever” after losing to him at Quail Hollow, and three months later, Woodswent from a one-shot deficit to Sabbatini to an eight-shot victory at Firestone.

Some of these grudges are overcooked.

Woods wasn’t bothered by Sabbatini’s comments as much as he was Sabbatiniwithdrawing from the Chevron World Challenge before the final round. And whileVijay Singh ’s caddie wrote, “Tiger Who?” on the back of his cap at thePresidents Cup before Woods’ 2-and-1 victory, he and Singh have long had mutualrespect for each other.

McIlroy’s only playful jab came two weeks ago at the Match PlayChampionship, when he was asked about a potential changing of the guard with somany good young players. He started to say that Woods and Phil Mickelson havenot gotten any worse when he paused and said with a smile, “Well, yeah, I meanI don’t think Phil has gotten any worse.”

If he is guilty of anything, McIlroy believes it’s getting his message outthe right way. He recently saw an interview with Sean Foley, Woods’ swing coach,who said that Woods had spoiled golf fans with a level never before seen. Andwith the depth on tours across oceans, it might be hard to repeat that.

Maybe the kid should keep it short, for it was on Twitter where McIlroy madehimself perfectly clear.

“Hate that the media thinks I’m taking jabs at Tiger all the time. Bestthat’s ever lived. Ever. Just not playing his best at the minute. If he playshis best we’re all screwed. Hard to dodge the Tiger questions when you get 10every interview you do.”

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Hataoka leads Minjee Lee by one at LPGA Volvik

By Associated PressMay 26, 2018, 12:54 am

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - After losing in a playoff last weekend, Nasa Hataoka is making another bid for her first LPGA Tour victory.

Hataoka shot a 4-under 68 on Friday, and the Japanese teenager led by one stroke over Minjee Lee after the second round of the Volvik Championship. Hataoka, who is coming off the first two top-10 finishes of her LPGA career, made seven birdies at Travis Pointe Country Club. She began her round on No. 10, and her best stretch came toward the end, when she birdied Nos. 4, 5 and 6.

''I'm really comfortable playing the LPGA,'' the 19-year-old Hataoka said through a translator. ''I've really got confidence now.''

Hataoka made the cut nine times in 17 starts as a rookie in 2017, and she has made significant strides of late. She tied for seventh at last month's MEDIHEAL Championship and nearly won a week ago at the Kingsmill Championship in Virginia.

Hataoka finished the second round in Michigan at 9 under. Lee (69) was also solid Friday. Gaby Lopez (68), Jodi Ewart Shadoff (70) and Lindy Duncan (70) were a stroke behind Lee in a tie for third.

Hataoka did not make a single bogey in last week's three-round tournament, and she didn't have any in the first round in Michigan. She finally made a few Friday, but that didn't stop her from taking sole possession of the lead.

''I kind of feel like not really perfect, but I just kind of try to (be) aggressive,'' she said.


Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship


Lee, who lost by one stroke on this course last year, is in contention again.

''I guess the fairways are pretty generous and I think the greens are a little bit on the trickier side to read,'' Lee said. ''As long as your iron shots are pretty solid, I think you're going to be in good position around this golf course.''

Lee birdied the first two holes, and the only blemish on her scorecard Friday came on the par-5 14th. After missing the fairway to the right, she hit an aggressive shot out of the rough that went straight toward a water hazard well in front of the green. She settled for a bogey after taking a drop.

''I thought the ball was sitting OK in the rough, but it must have been a bit funny, or underneath it,'' she said. ''I made a mistake. I thought it was good enough to hit 3-wood there.''

Lee lost last year in Michigan to Shanshan Feng, but Feng will have some ground to make up in her attempt to repeat. She shot 69 on Friday but is still eight strokes behind the leader.

Ariya Jutanugarn was 6 under after a second consecutive 69.

Lopez made only six pars in the second round, tied for the fewest of the day, but her eight birdies and four bogeys put her near the top of the leaderboard.

''It was a little bit of an up and down,'' she said. ''There's so many opportunities out here to make birdie, that the most important thing to do is just to be patient, to be in the moment and not to get ahead of yourself. I think I came back from a couple mistakes that I did.''

In contrast to Lopez, Brittany Lincicome parred all 18 holes Friday and made the cut at 1 under. Paula Creamer (71) triple bogeyed the par-4 13th. She followed that with an eagle on the very next hole but missed the cut by a stroke.

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Childhood rivals share Sr. PGA lead

By Associated PressMay 26, 2018, 12:00 am

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - Kevin Sutherland and Scott McCarron have been rivals since their junior golf days around Sacramento, California. The two old friends were back at it Friday at the top of the Senior PGA Championship leaderboard.

''It's honestly, nothing new for us,'' said Sutherland who played in the third-to-last group and birdied his last two holes for a 5-under 66 to match McCarron at 8 under.

McCarron had a 68 in the morning wave to emerge from a championship record group of six tied for the first-round lead.

Sutherland was last year's Charles Schwab Cup winner with his only senior win coming in the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship, while McCarron has six PGA Tour Champions wins, including a major at the 2017 Senior Players Championship.

''We are both (Northern California) guys, played in high school, junior golf, on tour and it seems like a lot on the Champions Tour,'' Sutherland said. ''We were in the last group on Sundays a lot last year. Scott played so well and had an incredible year, and I had a great year, too.''

Sutherland's lone PGA Tour victory came at McCarron's expense in 2002 at La Costa in the Accenture Match Play Championship, when he beat McCarron 1 up in the 36-hole final. As youngsters they played on opposing high school teams located about an hour apart and met often in state tournaments as well as on the California junior circuit.

''It's been happening for 30 years, wait 35 years now, I guess,'' Sutherland said. ''Playing together on a Saturday is a little different. We're both still trying to get in position to win.''

Jerry Kelly shot a 65 to join Tim Petrovic (69), Chris Williams (68) and Joe Durant (67) at 7 under. Durant tied for second last week in the Regions Tradition, also a major championship.


Full-field scores from the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship


McCarron feels like he is just starting to warm to the task this year. He had to replace his clubs, including a favored putter damaged beyond repair in air transit two months ago.

''I've been putting with a back-up putter I had, but it just didn't feel quite right,'' he said. ''I changed last Sunday at the Regions Tradition and started putting better on Sunday. So I'm using this one again this week and seem to be putting pretty good with it.''

McCarron said the Harbor Shores course played a little tougher in light winds in the second round. He made six birdies and three bogeys.

''I would just like to have a couple of those bogeys back,'' he said. ''But we're in a good position going into the weekend.''

McCarron came to the press center after his round and walked in on a press conference where course-designer Jack and Barbara Nicklaus were being honored by sponsoring KitchenAid with the establishment of a local college scholarship program in their name.

McCarron, who said he has idolized Nicklaus since his youth, played media and asked Nicklaus what he ate when he was near the lead going into the weekend of a major championship.

Nicklaus said if you play well one day, eat the same thing the next day.

''But no hamburgers, or you will play like hamburger,'' he said.

Stuart Smith, the Reno, Neveda, club pro who was tied for the lead after the first round, missed the 36-hole cut with a second-round 83.

''I'll take the 66, 83 and enjoy the 66 yesterday,'' he said. ''You put this one down to just plain old golf. It's a nasty game we play sometimes. Glad I have a day job.''

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Wise, Simpson both miss cut at Colonial

By Nick MentaMay 25, 2018, 11:34 pm

The two most recent winners on the PGA Tour, Aaron Wise and Webb Simpson, missed the cut at the Fort Worth Invitational on Friday.

Wise and Simpson both came up short of the 2-over total by a shot following rounds of 70-73.

Wise was safely inside the number before playing his last four holes in 4 over par with two bogeys and a closing double following a trip into the water at the par-4 ninth.


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


Simpson, making his first start following his Players triumph, similarly struggled coming home, bogeying three of his final six holes.

Other notables who won't be around for the weekend at Colonial include Xander Schauffele (+4), Jason Dufner (+5), Patrick Cantlay (+6), Smylie Kaufman (+13), and Sam Burns (+13).

This is Kaufman's 11th consecutive MC and his 15th in his last 16 starts.

Jason Seaman and Kristi Hubly Seaman

Sr. PGA caddie learns of nephew's heroism in school shooting

By Tim RosaforteMay 25, 2018, 10:33 pm

Tracy Hubly caddied for her husband, club pro Chris Starkjohann, on Friday at the KitchenAid Senior PGA and learned after their round that her nephew was credited with helping stop the school shooting at Noblesville West Middle School in Indiana.

Jason Seaman, a 29-year-old science instructor and seventh grade football coach at the school, took three bullets but survived as what his aunt called a hero.

“You hear the stories about these shootings and I think about Parkland and the officer that was trained but didn’t go into the school,” Hubly said. “It’s really shocking to think it comes close to your family, but it does."

It’s not unusual for Hubly to caddie for her husband, a teacher at Carlsbad Golf Center and coach of a PGA Junior League program in Southern California. Hubly, who works in the pro shop at Emerald Island Golf Course in Oceanside, Calif., was on the bag when he was low golf professional at the 2009 Senior PGA Championship held at Canterbury GC. 

Starkjohann, 61, missed the cut at Harbor Shores with rounds of 76-79—155 and was heading to the Colorado State Open.

 “I didn’t hear about it until after my round was done,” Starkjohann said. “Everything happened after I got in.”