McIlroy: I didn't deserve to win

By Ryan LavnerMarch 3, 2014, 12:40 am

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – It was nearly dark by the time Rory McIlroy finished his media obligations and marched across the putting green, past the PGA National clubhouse and into the vacant parking lot.

His fiancée, Caroline Wozniacki, kept pace, comforting him with a few soft pats on the back. McIlroy looked skyward, removed his white hat and ran his fingers through his dark curly hair.

Once again, he was frustrated as he left the Honda Classic.

Frustrated by blowing a three-shot lead during the final round.

Frustrated by missing a 12-foot eagle putt on 18 in regulation.

Frustrated by squandering an opportunity to win a PGA Tour event for the first time in 18 months and put his miserable 2013 season to rest.

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Video: McIlroy on ups and downs down stretch

Mostly, though, he was frustrated because, he said, “I didn’t play well enough to deserve to win today.”

Staked to a two-shot lead and seeking redemption for last year’s mid-round walk-off, McIlroy slumped to a 4-over 74 and counted himself fortunate to even reach the four-man playoff. His par on the first extra hole wasn’t enough to top Russell Henley, a fellow 24-year-old who earned his second PGA Tour victory.

Confident and in control all week, McIlroy stayed aggressive with his driver but hit only 10 greens Sunday, his fewest all week. In an 11-hole stretch (Nos. 7-17), he lost five shots to par. He finished at 8-under 272.

“It was a perfect opportunity to win,” he said. “No one was really coming at me.”

McIlroy pressed too much when he kicked away the title in Dubai.

This time, he simply didn’t perform when it mattered most.

The Honda was still his to win when he entered the second leg of the Bear Trap. But on the 16th hole, he hit his tee ball into the left fairway bunker and attempted to play a 6-iron shot that would ride the wind and drift left. He didn’t pull it off, catching the shot fat. Splash. He went on to make double bogey and tumbled out of the solo lead.

McIlroy then dropped another shot on the watery 17th, when he tugged his tee shot into the greenside bunker and was unable to convert the 8-foot par putt.

Of course, those blunders were nearly rendered a mere footnote, after his macho 5-wood approach from 236 yards on 18. His shot landed soft and settled 12 feet from the cup, and he pumped both fists, screaming, “Come on!” as the crowd roared its approval. His walk-off bid slid by on the low side.

In the playoff, he tried to play a cut 5-wood from an awkward yardage and flew the ball into the back greenside bunker. The lie wasn’t ideal and neither was his shot, which skidded across the green and into the first cut of rough. His birdie chip came up woefully short.

“I had my chances,” he said. “It’s tough to take at the minute, but I’ll sleep it off tonight and get back at it.”

Indeed, there was little time to dwell on Sunday’s clunker with the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral looming this week.

McIlroy has to be considered the favorite, even after this setback, after recording his second runner-up finish in his last three stroke-play events and eighth top 10 since October.

“I haven’t been able to walk through that door,” he said, “but I feel like the more times I knock on that door, I’ll eventually step through it.”

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Phil rubs fan's Donald Duck hat seven times, signs it

By Nick MentaJune 18, 2018, 3:09 pm

There is a case to be made that what Phil Mickelson did on Saturday made a mockery of a major championship and was worthy of derision.

There is also a case to be made that the USGA's setup of Shinnecock Hills made a mockery of a major championship and was worthy of derision.

Whatever you think about what Mickelson did on Saturday - and how he attempted to justify it after the fact without even a hint of remorse - watch this video.

The next time you hear someone say, "If anybody else had putted a moving ball on purpose and not apologized for it, it would get a different reaction," you can point to this video and say, "Yeah, here's why."

Here's what happened once a still-strident Mickelson was done rubbing Donald Duck hats on Sunday, per Ryan Lavner:

If you’re wondering whether Mickelson would be defiant or contrite on Sunday, we don’t know the answer. He declined to stop and speak with the media, deciding instead to sign autographs for more than a half hour and then offering a few short answers before ducking into player hospitality.

“The real question is, ‘What am I going to do next?’” he said. “I don’t know.”

The 2024 Ryder Cup at Bethpage is going to be a three-ring circus, and Mickelson, a likely choice to captain the U.S. team, will be the ringmaster.

Separately, shoutout to 2017 Latin Am champ Toto Gana, who does a terrific Donald Duck (skip to end).

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Ryder Cup race: Mickelson out, Simpson in

By Will GrayJune 18, 2018, 2:34 pm

There's a new man at the top of the U.S. Ryder Cup race following the U.S. Open, and there's also a familiar name now on the outside looking in.

Brooks Koepka's successful title defense vaulted him to the top of the American points race, up four spots and ensuring he'll be on the team Jim Furyk takes to Paris in September. Dustin Johnson's third-place finish moved him past Patrick Reed at No. 2, while Webb Simpson entered the top eight after a a tie for 10th.

While Bryson DeChambeau remained at No. 9, Phil Mickelson dropped two spots to No. 10. Tony Finau, who finished alone in fifth, went from 16th to 13th, while Tiger Woods fell two spots to No. 37.

Here's a look at the latest U.S. standings, with the top eight after the PGA Championship qualifying automatically:

1. Brooks Koepka

2. Dustin Johnson

3. Patrick Reed

4. Justin Thomas

5. Jordan Spieth

6. Rickie Fowler

7. Bubba Watson

8. Webb Simpson


9. Bryson DeChambeau

10. Phil Mickelson

11. Matt Kuchar

12. Brian Harman

On the European side, England's Tommy Fleetwood took a big stride toward securing his first Ryder Cup appearance with a runner-up finish that included a Sunday 63 while countryman Matthew Fitzpatrick snuck into a qualifying spot after tying for 12th.

Here's a look at the updated Euro standings, with the top four from both points lists joining four picks from captain Thomas Bjorn at Le Golf National:

European Points

1. Tyrrell Hatton

2. Justin Rose

3. Tommy Fleetwood

4. Francesco Molinari


5. Thorbjorn Olesen

6. Ross Fisher

World Points

1. Jon Rahm

2. Rory McIlroy

3. Alex Noren

4. Matthew Fitzpatrick


5. Ian Poulter

6. Rafael Cabrera-Bello

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Koepka autographs local kids' 'Go Brooks' sign after win

By Grill Room TeamJune 18, 2018, 2:30 pm

Brooks Koepka is a two-time U.S. Open winner, but that doesn't mean he's now too big to go sign a couple pieces of cardboard in somebody's front yard in the middle of the night.

Koepka's girlfriend, Jena Sims, posted two pictures to her Instagram story on Sunday of "Go Brooks" signs she says were put up by some local kids in the area where Koepka was staying for the week.

The first is dated prior to Koepka's final-round tee time.

The second is from Sunday night.

And here, separately, for no reason in particular (other than the fact that she posted it) is a video of Sims running over a parking cone at last year's U.S. Open at Erin Hills.

Speaking of kids, just feels those two are gonna make it.

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Koepka moves to No. 4 in world with U.S. Open win

By Will GrayJune 18, 2018, 2:05 pm

After successfully defending his U.S. Open title, Brooks Koepka reached a new career high in the Official World Golf Ranking.

Koepka held off Tommy Fleetwood to win by a shot Sunday at Shinnecock Hills, becoming the first player to go back-to-back in nearly 30 years. As a result, he jumped five spots in the latest rankings to No. 4, six spots higher than he reached with last year's U.S. Open victory at Erin Hills.

Fleetwood finished alone in second place and moved up two spots to No. 10, tying his career-best placement. Patrick Reed moved up two spots to No. 11 by finishing fourth, while fifth-place Tony Finau went from No. 37 to No. 31.

Updated Official World Golf Ranking

It was a largely quiet week in the rankings despite the fact that a major championship was contested. Outside of Koepka and Finau, the only other player inside the top 50 to move up or down more than three spots was Jason Dufner, who went from 53rd to 48th with a T-25 finish.

Dustin Johnson remains world No. 1 for the second consecutive week, followed by Justin Thomas, Justin Rose, Koepka and Jordan Spieth. Jon Rahm dropped one spot to No. 6, with Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day and Fleetwood rounding out the top 10. Hideki Matsuyama fell two spots to No. 12, dropping out of the top 10 for the first time since October 2016.

Despite a missed cut at Shinnecock, Tiger Woods actually moved up one spot to No. 79 in the latest rankings. He plans to play the Quicken Loans National and The Open in the coming weeks, which will be his final two chances to move into the top 50 in time to qualify for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. The event is being held for the final time this summer at Firestone Country Club, where Woods has won eight times.