McIlroy considers week a success, despite losing No. 1

By Mercer BaggsAugust 16, 2015, 11:40 pm

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. – Rory McIlroy didn’t win and he lost his No. 1 ranking, but he considers his performance at the PGA Championship a mild success.

“I guess for myself, if I'm looking at it as a whole, I feel like I've done well to come back and shoot the scores that I have. I feel like I progressed each and every day,” he said.

“I'm walking away pretty happy with how the week went. Obviously, it isn't a win and didn't get myself into contention, but considering six weeks ago I wasn't able to walk, it's not a bad effort."

McIlroy shot four under-par rounds (71-71-68-69) at Whistling Straits and managed to escape without re-injuring his ankle. He finished in 17th place, 11 shots behind winner Jason Day.

McIlroy, the defending PGA champion, was competing for the first time since rupturing a ligament in his left ankle while playing soccer. After five weeks on the sidelines, and two missed title defenses in a major and WGC event, he returned with expectations of competing.

Those went unfulfilled. Another expectation, that of what it would take to win this championship, was a bit short-sighted.

“I thought, between 10 and 15 under would have a great chance to win, but obviously the standard is just so high these days,” he said. “I didn't see close to 20 under par winning this tournament.”


PGA Championship: Full-field scores


McIlroy will take the next two weeks off and return for the second FedEx Cup playoffs event at the Deutsche Bank Championship. He’ll have another week off thereafter, as the Tour has a bye week between the second and third cup events.

The plan during that down time?

“I probably next week won't do much work on my golf; I'll just keep doing the rehab and doing everything I need to then,” he said. “And then the week after I'll start to practice and build up again and get ready for Boston."

McIlroy admitted there was some swelling in his ankle after rounds, but that it was nothing significant. "It should look like a normal ankle in two, three months," he said. As for his game, there also needs to be a little rehab, a little fine-tuning to get back to the form that led to victories in this year's WGC-Match Play and Wells Fargo Championship.

“I just need to sharpen up," he said. "I feel like ball-striking-wise, tee to green, it's there. And it's sort of been there all year. If anything,  just around the greens and being more efficient, really.”

When McIlroy returns it will be as world No. 2, according to Golf Channel calculations. After finishing his round, with Spieth still on the course and fighting to claim his third major of the season, McIlroy was asked how much being No. 1 meant to him, and his thoughts on possibly being bumped from his perch.

 “I feel like I'm playing well, but if he does go to No. 1 today, it's very deservedly so,” McIlroy said. “Winning two majors, winning a couple other times this year, had a chance at the Open, has a chance, obviously, today. And if he was to get to No. 1 today, I'd be the first one to congratulate him because I know the golf you have to play to get to that spot, and it has been impressive this year."

And he did just that after Spieth finished solo second to earn the top spot.

McIlroy will have plenty of motivation when he competes again in New Jersey. But reclaiming world No. 1, he says, won't be his primary focus.

“I've always said that winning golf tournaments takes care of all of that stuff," McIlroy said. "Right now I'm focused on just getting my game the way I think it has to be to win tournaments like this."

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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.”

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Harrington: Fiery Carnoustie evokes Hoylake in '06

By Ryan LavnerJuly 16, 2018, 3:45 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – One course came to mind when Padraig Harrington arrived on property and saw a firm, fast and yellow Carnoustie.

Hoylake in 2006.

That's when Tiger Woods avoided every bunker, bludgeoned the links with mid-irons and captured the last of his three Open titles.

So Harrington was asked: Given the similarity in firmness between Carnoustie and Hoylake, can Tiger stir the ghosts this week?


Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“I really don’t know,” Harrington said Monday. “He’s good enough to win this championship, no doubt about it. I don’t think he could play golf like the way he did in 2006. Nobody else could have tried to play the golf course the way he did, and nobody else could have played the way he did. I suspect he couldn’t play that way now, either. But I don’t know if that’s the strategy this week, to lay up that far back.”

With three days until the start of this championship, that’s the biggest question mark for Harrington, the 2007 winner here. He doesn’t know what his strategy will be – but his game plan will need to be “fluid.” Do you attack the course with driver and try to fly the fairway bunkers? Or do you attempt to lay back with an iron, even though it’s difficult to control the amount of run-out on the baked-out fairways and bring the bunkers into play?

“The fairways at Hoylake are quite flat, even though they were very fast,” Harrington said. “There’s a lot of undulations in the fairways here, so if you are trying to lay up, you can get hit the back of a slope and kick forward an extra 20 or 30 yards more than you think. So it’s not as easy to eliminate all the risk by laying up.”