McIlroy center of attention at WGC-Cadillac Championship

By Doug FergusonMarch 6, 2013, 9:18 pm

DORAL, Fla. – As if quitting in the middle of a golf tournament didn't bring Rory McIlroy enough attention, it might not let up on the golf course.

McIlroy has been going through damage control the last five days after his abrupt departure when he was 7-over par through eight holes and decided to call it quits at the Honda Classic. After an apology to Sports Illustrated, he faced the media on Wednesday and took all the blame.

''I actually think in the long run, Friday will be a blessing in disguise,'' he said, referring to the day he withdrew last week. ''It was like it just sort of released a valve, and all that pressure that I've been putting on myself just went away. And I was like, 'Just go out and have fun. It's not life or death out there. It's only a game.'

''I had sort of forgotten that this year.''

The world's No. 1 player won't be able to escape the spotlight when the Cadillac Championship gets under way on Thursday at Doral.


Video: McIlroy at Doral, apologizes for Honda WD

Photos: Rory McIlroy through the years

Video: Woods sheds light on McIlroy


This World Golf Championship tends to group the top players in the world ranking, meaning McIlroy gets to spend the opening two rounds with Tiger Woods and Luke Donald. And while McIlroy's behavior was questioned last week, it's his game that has been the most curious.

He played with Woods when both made their 2013 debut in Abu Dhabi, and the 23-year-old from Northern Ireland had rounds of 75-75 to miss the cut. Woods also missed the cut that week because of a two-shot penalty, though he flew halfway around the world the following week and won at Torrey Pines for his 75th career win.

McIlroy had a sloppy performance on Dove Mountain and lost in the first round of the Match Play Championship, and then made it through only 26 holes at PGA National. He lost track of the hours he put in at The Bear's Club over the weekend, hopeful that he can sort out the problems in his swing.

His expectations for the week?

''Just work on my swing,'' he said as he walked out the door after his press conference. ''Try to get my swing back.''

Woods is coming off a mediocre performance in the Honda Classic, failing to break par in any of the four rounds on his way to a tie for 37th. He is a three-time winner at Doral and had never finished out of the top 10 until he withdrew after 11 holes last year with tightness in his left Achilles tendon.

Woods can appreciate the scrutiny McIlroy faces. He also had some sound advice.

Keep going.

''We play week after week,'' Woods said after nine holes of practice on the Blue Monster. ''Once one week ends, you have to move on the next one. And we're on a different venue and different golf course. For me over the years, I've just put it aside and moved on, whether it was good or bad, whether I won the tournament or missed the cut, whatever it may be. You move on and get ready for the next event.''

With each week, The Masters gets closer.

Only a dozen players in the 65-man field at Doral are not yet in the Masters, so it's an important week for the likes of Geoff Ogilvy, Fredrik Jacobson, Richard Sterne and Charles Howell III, all of whom are trying to establish themselves in the top 50 when the final cutoff arrives at the end of the month.

And for McIlroy, it's a matter of sorting out his game.

He described his swing change as trying to put it back the way it was last summer, when he went on a tear at the end of the year by winning the PGA Championship for his second major, two FedEx Cup playoff events and the season finale in Dubai to capture the money title on the two biggest tours.

He is getting close.

''We found it,'' he said. ''It's just a matter of getting comfortable with it. When I take the club away and try to put it in the right position, it feels very alien to me right now. But the more reps I do, the more comfortable I'm going to get with it.''

Even so, he is not inclined to add another tournament to his schedule. If he were to play poorly at Doral, McIlroy would consider playing Bay Hill. Otherwise, he would stick to his plan of making the Houston Open is only other stop before Augusta.

Another example of the Masters on the horizon was Phil Mickelson, who made a detour to Augusta on Tuesday to play with Keegan Bradley.

Mickelson was dominant when he won the Phoenix Open, though he didn't contend his next two weeks at Pebble Beach and Riviera, and then he took the last two weeks off.

''The first week I didn't touch a club and this last week I've been practicing pretty hard,'' Mickelson said. ''And I've had some good rounds and I'm optimistic, but you just never know until you get in competition, and today at Doral, this is playing as tough as I've seen this golf course play. The rough is thicker and denser than I've seen – and longer – and it's going to have a premium on getting the ball in the fairway.''

Woods, meanwhile, is trying to end a drought in these World Golf Championships. He has won 16 of them, but none since Firestone in late summer of 2009. His game has been all over the place – missed cut, win, middle-of-the-pack - but Doral is familiar turf.

''I've liked the venue. I like being here, and this course and this tournament have been good to me over the years,'' he said.

He might not recognize the course much longer. Donald Trump bought the resort last year and will start tearing it up on Monday after the tournament is over, adding length and more water features in what The Donald describes as a ''brand new course.''

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Watch: Moore does impressions of Tiger, Poults, Bubba

By Grill Room TeamJuly 16, 2018, 10:36 pm
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Johnson begins Open week as 12/1 betting favorite

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 5:15 pm

Dustin Johnson heads into The Open as the top-ranked player in the world, and he's also an understandable betting favorite as he looks to win a second career major.

Johnson has not played since the U.S. Open, where he led by four shots at the halfway point and eventually finished third. He has three top-10 finishes in nine Open appearances, notably a T-2 finish at Royal St. George's in 2011.

Johnson opened as a 12/1 favorite when the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook first published odds for Carnoustie after the U.S. Open, and he remains at that number with the first round just three days away.

Here's a look at the latest odds on some of the other top contenders, according to the Westgate:

12/1: Dustin Johnson

16/1: Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose

20/1: Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm

25/1: Jason Day, Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods

30/1: Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Patrick Reed

40/1: Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman, Branden Grace, Tyrrell Hatton

50/1: Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter, Matthew Fitzpatrick

60/1: Russell Knox, Louis Oosthuizen, Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau, Zach Johnson, Tony Finau, Bubba Watson

80/1: Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele

100/1: Shane Lowry, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Ryan Fox, Thorbjorn Olesen

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Woods needs top-10 at Open to qualify for WGC

By Will GrayJuly 16, 2018, 4:34 pm

If Tiger Woods is going to qualify for the final WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club, he'll need to do something he hasn't done in five years this week at The Open.

Woods has won eight times at Firestone, including his most recent PGA Tour victory in 2013, and has openly stated that he would like to qualify for the no-cut event in Akron before it shifts to Memphis next year. But in order to do so, Woods will need to move into the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking after this week's event at Carnoustie.

Woods is currently ranked No. 71 in the world, down two spots from last week, and based on projections it means that he'll need to finish no worse than a tie for eighth to have a chance of cracking the top 50. Woods' last top-10 finish at a major came at the 2013 Open at Muirfield, where he tied for sixth.


Updated Official World Golf Ranking


There are actually two OWGR cutoffs for the Bridgestone, July 23 and July 30. That means that Woods could theoretically still add a start at next week's RBC Canadian Open to chase a spot in the top 50, but he has said on multiple occasions that this week will be his last start of the month. The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational will be played Aug. 2-5.

There wasn't much movement in the world rankings last week, with the top 10 staying the same heading into the season's third major. Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm. Defending Open champ Jordan Spieth is ranked sixth, with Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Tommy Fleetwood rounding out the top 10.

Despite taking the week off, Sweden's Alex Noren moved up three spots from No. 14 to No. 11, passing Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Paul Casey.

John Deere Classic champ Michael Kim went from No. 473 to No. 215 in the latest rankings, while South African Brandon Stone jumped from 371st to 110th with his win at the Scottish Open.

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Spieth takes familiar break ahead of Open defense

By Rex HoggardJuly 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – As his title chances seemed to be slipping away during the final round of last year’s Open Championship, Jordan Spieth’s caddie took a moment to remind him who he was.

Following a bogey at No. 13, Michael Greller referenced a recent vacation he’d taken to Mexico where he’d spent time with Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan and why he deserved to be among that group of singular athletes.

Spieth, who won last year’s Open, decided to continue the tradition, spending time in Cabo again before this week’s championship.


Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“I kind of went through the same schedule,” Spieth said on Monday at Carnoustie. “It was nice to have a little vacation.”

Spieth hasn’t played since the Travelers Championship; instead he attended the Special Olympics USA Games earlier this month in Seattle with his sister. It was Spieth’s first time back to the Pacific Northwest since he won the 2015 U.S. Open.

“I went out to Chambers Bay with [Greller],” Spieth said. “We kind of walked down the 18th hole. It was cool reliving those memories.”

But most of all Spieth said he needed a break after a particularly tough season.

“I had the itch to get back to it after a couple weeks of not really working,” he said. “It was nice to kind of have that itch to get back.”