McIlroy, Spieth battle for history, bound by Tiger

By Damon HackAugust 9, 2017, 7:32 pm

In his boyhood home in Holywood, Northern Ireland, Rory McIlroy could rattle off Tiger Woods’ records as if he was doing his ABC’s.

“I first saw Tiger on TV at the 1996 U.S. Amateur – he beat Steve Scott at Pumpkin Ridge,” McIlroy said back in the spring of 2009 at age 19. “Then he turned pro quite soon after, he won Las Vegas and he won a few others and then he won the Masters a year after. I had a poster of him on my wall. I had a replica scorecard after the 1997 Masters, the final round.”

Halfway around the world, Jordan Spieth was quietly charting Woods’ achievements as well, measuring himself against Tiger even as an amateur.

“Any time you can be compared to any of Tiger’s accomplishments, it’s very special,” Spieth said a week before his 18th birthday in 2011 after winning his second United States Junior Amateur. “You know, he won it three years in a row. I’m glad to have gotten two of them. Now that I can’t win them anymore I’m going to go after the [three U.S.] Amateurs that he won.”

Spieth would never get the chance, ultimately turning pro after a year at the University of Texas, but he would be chasing other Woods records soon enough, including this week at the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow Club, where he can become the youngest to win the career Grand Slam – 154 days earlier than Woods.

It is only appropriate that McIlroy, with his two wins and a runner-up finish at Quail Hollow, is best positioned to stop him and preserve his opportunity to be the next player to complete the slam next year at the Masters.

All of these years removed from their teenage youth, across oceans and time zones, Spieth and McIlroy have separated themselves from their peers by their remarkable (but very different) gifts as golfers, but also for their mirror-like success in the majors.


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In this age of parity, with Dustin Johnson as the No. 1 player in the world and Hideki Matsuyama as the hottest and Jon Rahm ascendant and Jason Day ever dangerous, Spieth and McIlroy draw more comparisons to Woods than anyone in the game.

They have earned that distinction.

And whether they know it or not, the emerald fairways of Quail Hollow could serve as the clearest opportunity yet to establish the true heir to Woods’ throne.

“Rory is a guy who is very difficult if you come into a one-on-one-type situation no matter where it is and especially in the majors because he’s not afraid to hit the shot,” Spieth said Wednesday. “He plays so aggressively and that’s what you have to do to win. He won this tournament by eight shots [at Kiawah Island in 2012]. If you’re matched up on Sunday … he is one to fear in that position because of what he’s capable of doing and how he’s doing it.”

McIlroy is similarly enamored with Spieth’s skills, which were on full display at The Open at Royal Birkdale.

“He has got the knack,” McIlroy said Tuesday. “I call it resilience. It’s a mental thing. You can stand and hit the shots that he was hitting for those last five holes at The Open on the range, no problem. But being able to do it under those circumstances, under the pressure, that’s what makes him so good. Being able to forget about a bad shot and move on to the next one, that’s his great weapon.”

Neither Spieth, 24, nor McIlroy, 28, is entirely comfortable with comparisons to Woods, an indication of the respect each has for the 14-time major champion and the knowledge that a career can be a long and winding road.

While both have benefitted from Woods’ example, each has also come under scrutiny for the inevitable dry patches in a career.

After his spirited run for an in-season Grand Slam in 2015, Spieth couldn’t shake the doubters when his 2016 didn’t measure up.

McIlroy hasn’t won a major since 2014, but he is less than a year removed from winning two PGA Tour playoff events and the FedExCup.

While the victories are celebrated with dizzying prize money and endorsement portfolios - made possible in large part by Woods - every wobble is a chance for renewed investigation and criticism.

“Tiger had very parallel wins in the way that he got it done, but that was almost like a robot,” said Spieth, pointing to Woods’s dependability as a front-runner. “Don’t really expect that to happen with myself based on what I’ve seen the first few times.”

What Spieth and McIlroy have given us, though, is the next best chance for a great rivalry and, perhaps, a few echoes of Woods.

One is a dominant driver of the golf ball, the other a master on and around the greens. Each believes that on his best day he is the player to beat.

It’s a mindset born in the heart of the Woods era and nurtured both in a childhood in windswept North Texas and chilly Northern Ireland – and on display this week in Charlotte, N.C., and beyond.

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Randall's Rant: Tiger vs. Phil feels like a ripoff

By Randall MellOctober 15, 2018, 7:45 pm

Usually, you have to buy something before you feel like you were ripped off.

The wonder in the marketing of Tiger vs. Phil and “The Match” is how it is making so many people feel as if they are getting ripped off before they’ve shelled out a single penny for the product.

Phil Mickelson gets credit for this miscue.

Apparently, the smartest guy in the room isn’t the smartest marketing guy.

He was a little bit like that telemarketer who teases you into thinking you’ve won a free weekend getaway, only to lead you into the discovery that there’s a shady catch, with fine print and a price tag.

There was something as slippery as snake oil in the original pitch.

In Mickelson’s eagerness to create some excitement, he hinted back during The Players in May about the possibility of a big-money, head-to-head match with Woods. A couple months later, he leaked more details, before it was ready to be fully announced.

So while there was an initial buzz over news of the Thanksgiving weekend matchup, the original pitch set up a real buzzkill when it was later announced that you were only going to get to see it live on pay-per-view.

The news landed with a thud but no price tag. We’re still waiting to see what it’s going to cost when these two meet at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas, but anything that feels even slightly inflated now is going to further dampen the original enthusiasm Mickelson created.

Without Woods or Mickelson putting up their own money, this $9 million winner-take-all event was always going to feel more like a money grab than real competition.

When we were expecting to see it on network or cable TV, we didn’t care so much. Tiger and Phil’s hands would have felt as if they were reaching into corporate America’s pockets. Now, it feels as if they’re digging into ours.

Last week, there was more disappointing news, with the Las Vegas Review-Journal reporting that tickets won’t be sold to the public, that the match at Shadow Creek will only be open to select sponsors and VIPs.



Now there’s a larger insult to the common fan, who can’t help but feel he isn’t worthy or important enough to gain admittance.

Sorry, but that’s how news of a closed gate landed on the heels of the pay-per-view news.

“The Match” was never going to be meaningful golf in any historical sense.

This matchup was never going to rekindle the magic Tiger vs. Phil brought in their epic Duel at Doral in ’05.

The $9 million was never going to buy the legitimacy a major championship or PGA Tour Sunday clash could bring.

It was never going to be more than an exhibition, with no lingering historical significance, but that was OK as quasi silly-season fare on TV on Thanksgiving weekend (Nov. 23), the traditional weekend of the old Skins Game.

“The Match” still has a chance to be meaningful, but first and foremost as entertainment, not real competition. That’s what this was always going to be about, but now the bar is raised.

Pay per view does that.

“You get what you pay for” is an adage that doesn’t apply to free (or already-paid for) TV. It does to pay per view. Expectations go way up when you aren’t just channel surfing to a telecast. So the higher the price tag they end up putting on this showdown, the more entertaining this has to be.

If Phil brings his “A-Game” to his trash talking, and if Tiger can bring some clever repartee, this can still be fun. If the prerecorded segments wedged between shots are insightful, even meaningful in their ability to make us understand these players in ways we didn’t before, this will be worthwhile.

Ultimately, “The Match” is a success if it leaves folks who paid to see it feeling as if they weren’t as ripped off as the people who refused to pay for it. That’s the handicap a history of free golf on TV brings. Welcome to pay-per-view, Tiger and Phil.

Celia Barquin Arozamena Iowa State University athletics

Trial date set for drifter charged with killing Barquin Arozamena

By Associated PressOctober 15, 2018, 7:28 pm

AMES, Iowa – A judge has scheduled a January trial for a 22-year-old Iowa drifter charged with killing a top amateur golfer from Spain.

District Judge Bethany Currie ruled Monday that Collin Richards will stand trial Jan. 15 for first-degree murder in the death of Iowa State University student Celia Barquin Arozamena.

Richards entered a written not guilty plea Monday morning and waived his right to a speedy trial. The filing canceled an in-person arraignment hearing that had been scheduled for later Monday.

Investigators say Richards attacked Barquin on Sept. 17 while she was playing a round at a public course in Ames, near the university campus. Her body was found in a pond on the course riddled with stab wounds.

Richards faces life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted.

LeBron's son tries golf, and he might be good at everything

By Grill Room TeamOctober 15, 2018, 5:36 pm

LeBron James' son seems well on his way to a successful basketball career of his own. To wit:

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Finally got it down lol

A post shared by Bronny James (@bronnyjames.jr) on

But with just a little work, he could pass on trying to surpass his father and try to take on Tiger and Jack, instead.

Bronny posted this video to Instagram of him in sandals whacking balls off a mat atop a deck into a large body of water, which is the golfer's definition of living your best life.

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How far, maybe 400 #happygilmore

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If you listen closely, at the end of the clip, you can just barely hear someone scream out for a marine biologist.

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Sponsored: Callaway's 'Golf Lives: Home Course'

By Grill Room TeamOctober 15, 2018, 4:20 pm

In this original series, Callaway sets out to profile unique golf locations around the country based on their stories, communities and the characters that surround them. The golf cultures across the series are remarkably diverse, yet in all cases it's the course itself that unifies and ignites the passions of those who play.

“Golf Lives: Home Course” focuses on three distinct home courses across the country – one in D.C., one in Nebraska and one in Portland, Ore. All have very different golf cultures, but are connected by a deep love of the game.

Click here for a look at all three episodes in the series, as well as past Golf Lives films (check out the trailer below).



And here’s a breakdown of the three courses in focus: 

FILM 1

Langston Golf Course (Washington, D.C.)

Opened in June 1939, Langston is steeped in a rich history. Known for its triumphant role in the desegregation of public golf, the course has been integral to the growth of the game’s popularity among African Americans. With its celebratory feel, Langston shows us golf is not unifies individuals, but generations. 


FILM 2

Edgefield Golf Course (Portland, Ore.)

The air is fresh, the beers are cold and the vibes are electric at Edgefield. You'd be hard pressed to find a more laid back, approachable and enjoyable environment for a round. Overlooking stunning panoramic views of northeast Portland, two par-3 pub courses (12 holes and 20 holes) wind through vineyards, thickets of blackberry bushes and a vintage distillery bar. All are welcome at Edgefield, especially those who have never swung a club. 


FILM 3

Wild Horse Golf Club (Gothenburg, Neb.)

In 1997, the locals and farmers living in the tight-knit town of Gothenburg decided to build a golf course. A bank loan, a couple of tractors, and a whole lotta sweat-equity later, their prairieland masterpiece is now considered one of the best in the country. Wild Horse is the soul of the community, providing unforgettable memories for all who play it.