Rock star: Rock enjoying new-found fame

By Associated PressFebruary 8, 2012, 6:02 pm

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - After beating Tiger Woods at the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, rising star Robert Rock says he no longer fears playing against the big names.

Good thing. Hes paired with U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy and defending champion Alvaro Quiros of Spain in Thursdays opening round of the Dubai Desert Classic.

The 34-year-old Englishman, who cracked the top 100 with his Abu Dhabi win, has found celebrity life to his liking. He was mobbed by autograph seekers when playing a pro-am tournament Wednesday. Hes also picked up a lucrative endorsement, signing on as the golfing ambassador for the opulent Emirates Palace hotel in Abu Dhabi.

Plenty of people were still asking Rock about his shocking win over 14-time major winner Woods. They came into the final round tied, but Rock held his nerve to win the tournament by a shot over McIlroy. Woods was another shot back in a tie for third.

It doesnt get much better than that for me, Rock told The Associated Press on Wednesday as he walked down the fairway of the first hole of the Emirates Club. To make it better, it would need to be the same sort of scenario in a major championship.

The chances of actually getting the pairings right for that are slim I think I will have a chance to win other tournaments, but that one will definitely be a lasting memory.

Rock, who won his first European Tour event last year, said the win against Woods had given him confidence and a sense he can compete with anyone.

Certain occasions during my career, Ive played with people that have really made me nervous, and that was probably the most, he said of Woods. I played with Nick Faldo, who was a hero, and so was Seve (Ballesteros). After you do that, you are not scared of any groups you get. Id love to play with him (Woods) again. He was great company.

Rock dismissed critics who have suggested Woods can be rude on the golf course, after he was caught spitting on the green last year in Dubai. He said the former No. 1 repeatedly complimented him on his shots and put up with a packed gallery in Abu Dhabi that at times became a tad unruly.

As far as golfing etiquette, it couldnt be better. Its a bit unfair when people criticize him, he said. There are a lot of distractions for him when he is playing, people talking, people using their phones, people taking pictures when they shouldnt.

That was frustrating for me when I was hitting shots. I lost my temper a few times when that happened, and he doesnt do that. He ignores it and just carries on.

Rock, who until last month was better known for his relaxed demeanor and 1970s style haircut, said breaking into the top 50 would be a goal'in time to get him an invitation to the Masters. But his first priority is to win in Dubai.

Im up against two great players in that group, Rock said. The whole field is full of potential winners. The European Tour is very, very strong. I think my victory in Abu Dhabi proved that to some extent, that somebody down the lower ends of the world rankings can win a tournament.

McIlroy, who won here in 2009, is looking to overcome inconsistent driving and mistakes in Abu Dhabi. Among the most costly was a two-shot penalty in the second round for brushing away sand in front of his ball in the rough on the ninth hole.

I didnt feel like I played all that well in Abu Dhabi, McIlroy said. I scored very well and was able to get myself into contention, which was great.

I felt like I needed to work on a couple of things last week, which I did, and I feel like theyre getting better.

Third-ranked Lee Westwood is in the field, looking to improve on a slow start to the year. He finished tied for 17th in Abu Dhabi and tied for 12th at the Qatar Masters. Fourth-ranked Martin Kaymer is competing after finishing tied for ninth in Qatar and missing the cut in Abu Dhabi.

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Watch: Pieters snaps club ... around his neck

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 25, 2018, 1:19 pm

After opening in 3-over 75, Thomas Pieters was in no mood for more poor play on Friday.

Unfortunately for Pieters, he bogeyed two of his first three holes in the second round of the BMW PGA Championship and then didn't like his second shot at the par-5 fourth.

Someone - or some thing - had to pay, and an innocent iron bore the brunt of Pieters' anger.



Pieters made par on the hole, but at 5 over for the tournament, he was five shots off the cut line.

It's not the first time a club has faced Pieters' wrath. 

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Woods would 'love' to see Tour allow shorts

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 25, 2018, 12:59 pm

Players on the European Tour are allowed to wear shorts during practices and pro-ams.

The PGA of America permitted players to show some leg while prepping for last year’s PGA Championship.

Tiger Woods would like to see the PGA Tour follow suit.

"I would love it," he said Thursday in a Facebook Live with Bridgestone Golf. "We play in some of the hottest climates on the planet. We usually travel with the sun, and a lot of our events are played in the summer, and then on top of that when we have the winter months here a lot of the guys go down to South Africa and Australia where it's summer down there.

"It would be nice to wear shorts. Even with my little chicken legs, I still would like to wear shorts."

Caddies are currently allowed to wear shorts on Tour, during events.

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Feasting again: McIlroy shoots 65 to lead BMW PGA

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 25, 2018, 12:04 pm

Updated at 9:42 a.m. ET

Rory McIlroy made seven birdies and no bogeys on Friday for a 7-under 65 and the second-round lead at the BMW PGA Championship.

After opening in 67, McIlroy was among the early groups out on Day 2 at Wentworth Club. He made three birdies and no bogeys on the par-35 front nine on Friday, and then went on a run after the turn.

McIlroy made four consecutive birdies, beginning at the par-5 12th. That got him to 12 under, overall, and gave him a clear advantage over the field. With two closing par-5s, a very low number was in sight. But, as he did on Day 1, McIlroy finished par-par.

"I've made four pars there [on 17 and 18] when I really should be making at least two birdies, but I played the other par-5s well," McIlroy said. "It all balances itself out."


Full-field scores from the BMW PGA Championship


McIlroy has made 14 birdies and two bogeys through two rounds. At 12 under, he has a three-stroke lead over Sam Horsfield.

"The work has paid off, to some degree," McIlroy said of his practice with swing coach Michael Bannon. "I still feel like I'm hitting some loose shots out there. But, for the most part, it's been really good. If I can keep these swing thoughts and keep going in the right direction, hopefully this is the type of golf I'll be able to produce."

This event has been feast or famine for McIlroy. He won here in 2014, but has three missed cuts in his other three starts. This week, however, he’ll be around for the weekend and is in position for his first European Tour victory since the 2016 Irish Open and his second worldwide victory of the year (Arnold Palmer Invitational).

"I have the confidence that I'm playing well and I can go out and try to just replicate what I did the day before," McIlroy said about his weekend approach with the lead. "On the first tee box tomorrow I'll be thinking about what I did today. Trying to just keep the same thoughts, make the same swings. I went a couple better today than I did yesterday. I'm not sure I'll keep that progression going but something similiar tomorrow would be nice."

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Goat visor propels Na to Colonial lead

By Will GrayMay 25, 2018, 1:29 am

Jason Dufner officially has some company in the headwear free agency wing of the PGA Tour.

Like Dufner, Kevin Na is now open to wear whatever he wants on his head at tournaments, as his visor sponsorship with Titleist ended earlier this month. He finished T-6 at the AT&T Byron Nelson in his second tournament as a free agent, and this week at the Fort Worth Invitational he's once again wearing a simple white visor with a picture of a goat.

"I bought it at The Players Championship for $22 with the 30 percent discount that they give the Tour players," Na told reporters. "It's very nice."


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


Perhaps a change in headwear was just what Na needed to jumpstart his game. Last week's result in Dallas was his first top-35 finish in his last six events dating back to February, and he built upon that momentum with an 8-under 62 to take a one-shot lead over Charley Hoffman after the first round at Colonial Country Club.

While many sports fans know the "GOAT" acronym to stand for "Greatest Of All Time," it's a definition that the veteran Na only learned about earlier this year.

"I do social media, but they kept calling Tiger the GOAT. I go, 'Man, why do they keep calling Tiger the GOAT? That's just mean,'" Na said. "Then I realized it meant greatest of all time. Thinking of getting it signed by Jack (Nicklaus) next week (at the Memorial)."