Day: No drinking from the Wanamaker Trophy

By Al TaysAugust 20, 2015, 12:00 pm

Drinking from trophies: Original Idea? Hardly. Just this year we’ve had reports of Zach Johnson and family quaffing Coke, wine, champagne, beer and water out of his newly won claret jug, not to mention sticking an ear of corn from his native Iowa in the thing (which he swears he did not actually eat). Jordan Spieth flew home from Scotland with Johnson and also drank out of the jug. Rory McIlroy opted for Jagermeister after he won the Open Championship in 2014. The year before, one of Phil Mickelson’s friends reportedly poured a $40,000 bottle of wine into the jug. 

“One of the things that I stressed is that we have to treat the claret jug with reverence and respect that it deserves and only put good stuff in it,” Mickelson said during the week of his title defense in 2014. 

Jason Day also believes in treating golf’s major trophies with respect. Which is why he says he won’t be treating his newly won Wanamaker Trophy as some sort of glorified Slurpee cup.

Last week, Day made the PGA Championship his first major victory, winning by three strokes at Whistling Straits. During a conference call on Wednesday, he said the trophy “is just going straight into the trophy cabinet. … [It] apparently has not had any sort of liquid in it and I don't plan to because I just respect the trophy too much to put anything in it.”

Some other highlights from Day’s interview:

Playing in the final PGA pairing with Jordan Spieth and hearing many fans openly rooting for Spieth motivated him.

“Jordan Spieth is a young 22‑year‑old American from Dallas, Texas, and he's the poster child for American golf right now. Like I said, if I was in the crowd, I'd be supporting him, as well, because he's just so easy to support. And I understand that. I understand that people wanted him to win. That was the hardest round of golf that I've ever had to play … having some negative comments out there, that's tough. But things like that you just grow from. You gain experience and you grow from and makes you mentally tougher in the long run. 

“I'm glad it happened that way. I'm not saying that these people that were saying negative stuff out there, that they really wanted it to happen. But it was just a good way to kind of fuel the fire for me at least to know that these people - I felt like these people were against me; I'm not going to have that. I'm going to keep pushing forward. I'm going to keep grinding it out and I'm not going to stop until I win this tournament.”

Tiger Woods is a valuable sounding board.

“He's the reason I started playing golf. He's the reason I got into the game of golf, because of the way he played, how dominating he was, and then reading that book about him when I was a 14‑, 15‑year‑old kid, and him changing the way I looked at the work ethic that I had, how hard I had to work to get to where I am; has been a big influence on me.

“To be able to call him a friend and really to be able to pick his brain about certain things and what keeps - how do you stay so motivated and how do you - what do you do in certain situations and stuff like that, has been a huge help.  We've talked a bunch of times on the telephone.  We've texted a bunch of times just back and forth each week.

“And really, to be able to get the help from arguably the best player ever to walk or ever to live in our sport, I mean, there's no other way, because he's lived it, he's walked it, he's done it; and to be able to have that as someone to bounce things off when you don't quite have the answers, but he has the experience and the knowledge of finishing and playing and winning a lot of tournaments, is the best sort of advice that you can get out there.”

He won’t be able to return to Australia and show off his trophy this year.

“Unfortunately, I'm not going to return home to Australia, which is very sad for me, because I want to be able to share this moment that I have, the trophy, the Wanamaker Trophy, and the moment that I had, the experience that I had with the Australian crowd, the Australian fans, the Australian media.

“It's kind of sad because I really want to be able to get home and share this with them. But with [baby] No. 2 on the way and Ellie due around mid‑November, it's just - I think I wouldn't be living in the house if I just got up and left Ellie with a brand new baby and Dash to look after by herself.”

Now that he has his first major, he isn’t thinking about how many more he’d like to win.

“I have not picked myself a number. The only number that I will pick is what I get at the end of my career. I'm going to try and win as many as I can, and you know, it would be fantastic to win all four at one point in my career.”

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McIlroy growing 'comfortable' on Open courses

By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 1:45 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – For a player who once complained about the vagaries of links golf, Rory McIlroy enters this Open with a dazzling record in the sport’s oldest championship.

Though he missed the 2015 event because of an ankle injury, McIlroy has now posted three consecutive top-5 finishes in the year’s third major.

“It’s surprising a little bit that my best form in major championships has been this tournament,” he said Wednesday, “but at the same time I’ve grown up these courses, and I’m comfortable on them. I think going to courses on The Open rota that I’ve played quite a lot. I think that helps. You have a comfort level with the golf course, and you’ve built up enough experience to know where to hit and where not to hit it.”

Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

McIlroy still regrets what happened in 2015, when he “did something slightly silly” and injured his ankle while playing soccer a few weeks before the event. That came a year after he triumphed at Royal Liverpool.

“Since 2010, I couldn’t wait to play The Open at St. Andrews,” he said. “I thought that was one of my best chances to win a major.”

He tied for 42nd at Carnoustie in 2007, earning low-amateur honors.  

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Height of irony: Phil putts in front of 'rules' sign

By Grill Room TeamJuly 18, 2018, 1:36 pm

A picture is worth 1,000 words and potentially two strokes for playing a moving ball under Rule 14-5 but not Rule 1-2.

Phil Mickelson has been having some fun during his Open prep at Carnoustie hitting flop shots over human beings, but the irony of this photo below is too obvious to go over anyone's head.

Mickelson also tried tapping down fescue two weeks ago at The Greenbrier, incurring another two-shot penalty.

And so we're left to wonder about what Phil asked himself back at Shinnecock Hills: "The real question is, ‘What am I going to do next?’”

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Rory looking for that carefree inner-child

By Ryan LavnerJuly 18, 2018, 1:28 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eleven years later, Rory McIlroy cringes at the photo: the yellow sweater with the deep V-neck, the chubby cheeks and the messy mop that curled under his cap.

“You live and you learn,” he said Wednesday, offering a wry smile.

The last time McIlroy played at a Carnoustie Open, in 2007, he earned the Silver Medal as the low amateur. He tied for 42nd, but the final result had mattered little. Grateful just to have a spot in the field, courtesy of his European Amateur title, he bounced along the fairways, soaking up every moment, and lingered behind the 18th green as one of his local heroes, Padraig Harrington, battled one of his favorite players, Sergio Garcia. Waiting for the trophy presentation, he passed the time playing with Padraig’s young son, Paddy. On Wednesday, McIlroy spotted Paddy, now 15, walking around Carnoustie with his three-time-major-winning father.

“He’s massive now – he towers over me,” he said. “It’s so funny thinking back on that day.”

But it’s also instructive. If there’s a lesson to be learned from ’07, it’s how carefree McIlroy approached and played that week. He was reminded again of that untroubled attitude while playing a practice round here with 23-year-old Jon Rahm, who stepped onto each tee, unsheathed his driver and bombed away with little regard for the wind or the bounce or the fescue. McIlroy smiled, because he remembers a time, not too long ago, that he’d attack a course with similar reckless abandon.

Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“I just think, as you get older, you get a little more cautious in life,” said McIlroy, 29. “I think it’s only natural. There’s something nice about being young and being oblivious to some stuff. The more I can get into that mindset, the better I’ll play golf.”

And so on the eve of this Open, as he approaches the four-year anniversary of his last major title, McIlroy finds himself searching for a way to channel that happy-go-lucky 18-year-old who was about to take the world by storm, to tap into the easygoing excellence that once defined his dominance.

It’s been a year since he first hinted at what he’s been missing. Last year’s Open at Royal Birkdale was the final event of his long run with caddie J.P. Fitzgerald. The chief reason for the split, he said, had nothing to do with some of the questionable on-course decisions, but rather a desire to take ownership of him game, to be freed up alongside one of his best friends, Harry Diamond.

That partnership has produced only one victory so far, and over the past few months, McIlroy has at times looked unsettled between the ropes. It’s difficult to compute, how someone with seemingly so much – a résumé with four majors, a robust bank account, a beautiful wife – can also appear disinterested and unmotivated.

“I think sometimes I need to get back to that attitude where I play carefree and just happy to be here,” he said. “A golf tournament is where I feel the most comfortable. It’s where I feel like I can 100 percent be myself and express myself. Sometimes the pressure that’s put on the top guys to perform at such a level every week, it starts to weigh on you a little bit. The more I can be like that kid, the better.”

It’s a decidedly different landscape from when the erstwhile Boy Wonder last won a major, in summer 2014. Jordan Spieth had won just a single Tour event, not three majors. Dustin Johnson wasn’t world No. 1 but merely a tantalizing tease, a long-hitting, fast-living physical freak who was just beginning a six-month break to address "personal challenges." Two-time U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka hadn’t even started playing in the States.  

McIlroy’s greatest asset, both then and now, was his driving – he put on clinics at Congressional and Kiawah, Hoylake and Valhalla. He was a mainstay at or near the top of the strokes gained: tee to green rankings, but over the past few years, because of better technology, fitness and coaching, the gap between him and the rest of the field has shrunk.

“I think at this stage players have caught up,” Harrington said. “There’s many players who drive the ball comparable and have certainly eaten into that advantage. Rory is well on pace to get into double digits with majors, but it has got harder. There’s no doubt there’s more players out there who are capable of having a big week and a big game for a major. It makes it tough.”

It’s not as though McIlroy hasn’t had opportunities to add to his major haul; they’ve just been less frequent and against stronger competition. In the 13 majors since he last won, he’s either finished in the top 10 or missed the cut in 11 of them. This year, he played in the final group at the Masters, and was on the verge of completing the career Grand Slam, before a soul-crushing 74 on the last day. His U.S. Open bid was over after nine holes, after an opening 80 and a missed cut during which he declined to speak to reporters after both frustrating rounds.

“I’m trying,” he said Wednesday. “I’m trying my best every time I tee it up, and it just hasn’t happened.”

A year after saying that majors are the only events that will define the rest of his career, he recently shrugged off the doom and gloom surrounding his Grand Slam drought: “It doesn’t keep me up at night, thinking, If I never won another major, I can’t live with myself.”

Eleven years ago, McIlroy never would have troubled himself with such trivial questions about his legacy. But perhaps a return to Carnoustie, to where his major career started, is just what he needs to unlock his greatness once again.


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Own history, grow the game with Open memorabilia auction

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 18, 2018, 1:00 pm

Get a piece of history and help grow the game, that's what The Open is offering with its memorabilia auction.

The official Open Memorabilia site features unique Open assets from famous venues and Champion Golfers of the Year. All net proceeds received by The R&A from this project will be invested to support the game for future generations, including encouraging women’s, junior and family golf, on the promotion and progression of the sport in emerging golf nations and on coaching and development.

Items for auction include limited edition prints of Champion Golfers of the Year, signed championship pin flags and limited edition historical program covers. Memorable scorecard reproductions and caddie bibs are also available to bid for on the website, with all items featuring branded, serialized holograms for authenticity.

Click here to own your piece of history and to get more information on the auction.