Notes: Donald OK with losing top ranking

By Doug FergusonMarch 6, 2012, 11:44 pm

DORAL, Fla. — Don’t get the idea that Luke Donald was camped out in front of his television for the final hour of the Honda Classic, waiting to see if Rory McIlroy would win and replace him as No. 1 in the world.

“I was actually with my daughters at the playground,” Donald said Tuesday at Doral.

Donald was No. 1 for 40 weeks, the longest of anyone except for Tiger Woods in the last 15 years. Sunday was the 49th time the No. 1 ranking had traded hands, and only 10 players had a longer stay at the top than Donald. The record belongs to Woods at 281 weeks.

Donald’s first thought about seeing that McIlroy won was that he now had room for improvement, at least in the ranking.

“It’s hard to go very far when you’re No. 1,” Donald said. “But no, I didn’t give it too much thought. That’s what happens. I’ve had a little bit of a slow start. Rory has played well and deservedly overtook me. I’ve never really questioned the world ranking system. It’s an unbiased, mathematical system, and he’s done enough to get to No. 1.”

Donald and Lee Westwood, whom Donald supplanted at No. 1 last May, could return to the top this week at Doral, though that could depend on how McIlroy fares.

Westwood said he was talking to Donald on the putting green Tuesday. He greeted Donald by calling him “No. 2.”

“He looked at me and nodded and he said, `Yeah, it’s sort of a bit of a relief.’ He said, `There’s only one way to go when you’re No. 1.’ At least there’s more than one way to go at No. 2,” Westwood said. “You’re at the top there and everybody shoots at you. But I think that’s the position you want to be in. You want the position everyone is envious of.”

McIlroy became the fourth player in 16 months to be No. 1, and it has changed hands five times since Woods’ 281-week reign ended in November 2010.

“I think it adds a little bit of interest,” Donald said. “When Tiger was No. 1, no one really talked about the world rankings much, and maybe the big talking point was who was in the top 50.

GONE FROM DORAL: A couple of ugly finishes left Jim Furyk little hope of getting into Doral, where he is a past champion. First, he lost a 3-up lead to Dustin Johnson and was eliminated in the first round of the Match Play Championship. Then, he opened with a 68 at the Honda Classic but shot 74 to miss the cut by one shot. Furyk missed an 8-foot birdie putt on the last hole.

He is No. 61 in the world, ineligible for a World Golf Championship for the first time since this series began in 1999.

Ditto for Ernie Els, who has fallen to No. 65. Els narrowly got into the Match Play Championship and beat top-seeded Luke Donald in the opening round. But because all the top players were there, it was hard to move up without advancing deep into the bracket.

Ian Poulter has the longest streak of consecutive WGCs at 25, followed by Martin Kaymer and Lee Westwood at 16. That streak includes the HSBC Champions at Shanghai, which became a WGC event in 2009.

HONDA AND KOBE: Tiger Woods shot 62 in the final round of the Honda Classic, then retreated to the locker room to see if it would be enough for a playoff. He had the golf on one TV, and the Heat-Lakers game on the other.

“We had the volume turned down on the golf and up on the Lakers game,” Woods said Sunday.

One of them did better in the ratings.

ESPN drew a 5.1 overnight rating on the Heat-Lakers game, which the Lakers won. The Honda Classic at a 3.2 overnight rating.

Even so, the PGA Tour had an increase of 78 percent over the previous year, and it was the highest overnight rating for the Honda Classic since it registered a 3.4 in 2002.

It was the second straight week of gains for NBC Sports and golf. It had 3.3 million viewers for the final of the Match Play Championship, up 30 percent from the previous year and the highest for a championship match that did not feature Woods since the event began in 1999.

DIVOTS: Tiger Woods remains a big draw, even among his peers. Miguel Angel Carballo, the alternate thrown into the group with Woods and Lee Westwood after Ian Poulter withdrew, brought two flags into the scoring trailer for Woods to sign after the Argentine rookie missed the cut. … Jaime Diaz has been named editor-in-chief of Golf World magazine, replacing Geoff Russell, who left to become executive editor of the Golf Channel. … The Honda Classic set new attendance records last week with 161,700 confirmed spectators from Monday through Sunday, when Rory McIlroy held off Tiger Woods. It was the first time Woods played the event as a pro. … The Greenbrier Classic will give an exemption to the winner of the Haskins Award, given to the top Division I college golfer as voted on by NCAA players, coaches and golf media.

STAT OF THE WEEK: Greg Norman in 2002 was the last non-Asian to receive a special invitation from the Masters.

FINAL WORD: “My dad always said to me, `If you’re good enough, you’re old enough.”’—U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy, who at 22 went to No. 1 in the world.

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Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 12:55 pm

NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 147th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Carnoustie, broken down into daily segments:

Friday, Day 2 (Times ET)

1:30-8:20AM (Watch): On a rainy Friday morning at Carnoustie, Rory McIlroy shot 69 to reach 4 under, while Zach Johnson fired a 67 for the early lead. Click here or on the image below to watch.

Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)

Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.

1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.

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Fleetwood, with his fancy umbrella, fires 65 on Day 2

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 12:34 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tommy Fleetwood looked like an Open rookie when he set out on Friday under gray skies and a cold, steady rain.

Because the Englishman doesn’t have an equipment sponsor he made a quick turn through the merchandise tent for an umbrella – but at least he didn’t have to pay for it.

“We stole it,” he laughed when asked about his Open-brand umbrella. “We got one given for free, actually. We didn't steal it. We don't always carry an umbrella. So it just so happens this week that we've got a nice Open Championship [umbrella]. It looked quite nice, the yellow and the course.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

It was Fleetwood’s only rookie move on Day 2 at Carnoustie, posting a flawless 65 to move into an early tie for second place at 5 under par.

Fleetwood holds the competitive course record at Carnoustie, a 9-under 63 he shot last fall during the European Tour’s Dunhill Links Championship, but given Friday’s conditions and the difficulty of this course during The Open, his 65 on Friday might have been better.

“It's not a course record, but it's pretty good,” said Fleetwood, who was stroke behind leader Zach Johnson. “If you went out, you wouldn't really fancy being 6 under out there. So I think that's a good indication of how good it was.”

It was a dramatic turnaround for Fleetwood on Friday. He said he struggled with his ball-striking, specifically his tee shots, on Day 1, but he was able to turn things around with an hour-long session on the range following his opening round.

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Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 10:15 am

Following an even-par 71 in the first round of the 147th Open Championship, Tiger Woods looks to make a move on Day 2 at Carnoustie.

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McIlroy responds to Harmon's 'robot' criticism

By Mercer BaggsJuly 20, 2018, 6:53 am

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy said during his pre-championship news conference that he wanted to play more "carefree" – citing Jon Rahm’s approach now and the way McIlroy played in his younger days.

McIlroy got off to a good start Thursday at Carnoustie, shooting 2-under 69, good for a share of eighth place.

But while McIlroy admits to wanting to be a little less structured on the course, he took offense to comments made by swing coach Butch Harmon during a Sky Sports telecast.

Said Harmon:

“Rory had this spell when he wasn’t putting good and hitting the ball good, and he got so wrapped up in how he was going to do it he forgot how to do it.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“He is one of the best players the game has ever seen. If he would just go back to being a kid and playing the way he won these championships and play your game, don’t have any fear or robotic thoughts. Just play golf. Just go do it.

“This is a young kid who’s still one of the best players in the world. He needs to understand that. Forget about your brand and your endorsement contracts. Forget about all that. Just go back to having fun playing golf. I still think he is one of the best in the world and can be No.1 again if he just lets himself do it.”

McIlroy, who has never worked with Harmon, responded to the comments when asked about them following his opening round.

“Look, I like Butch. Definitely, I would say I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum than someone that's mechanical and someone that's – you know, it's easy to make comments when you don't know what's happening,” McIlroy said. “I haven't spoken to Butch in a long time. He doesn't know what I'm working on in my swing. He doesn't know what's in my head. So it's easy to make comments and easy to speculate. But unless you actually know what's happening, I just really don't take any notice of it.”

McIlroy second round at The Open began at 2:52 a.m. ET.