Punch Shot: Will McIlroy be fatigued at U.S. Open?

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 19, 2015, 10:00 pm

Rory McIlroy is competing in his fourth consecutive event at this week's BMW PGA Championship. He will also be playing next week's Irish Open, before taking a two-week hiatus ahead of the U.S. Open. Not only is McIlroy playing a lot leading up to the Open, he's consistenly in contention (win-T-8-win, in first three starts). Should there be a fatigue concern for McIlroy at Chambers Bay? Our writers weigh in.


It’s been 265 competitive holes and 7,166 miles flown for Rory McIlroy the last three weeks and the end is still not in sight with the world No. 1 two more starts (this week’s BMW PGA Championship and next week’s Irish Open) away from a much-needed break.

For some that hardly sounds like a recipe for success with next month’s U.S. Open looming, but let’s hold off on the armchair quarterbacking until the experiment is complete.

A golf public that has been conditioned that less is more by Tiger Woods’ dominance the last decade and a half will consider McIlroy’s current run – he’s playing his fourth of five consecutive events this week – dangerous at best.

“I told him he’s crazy,” said Gary Woodland, who lost to McIlroy in the finals at the WGC-Cadillac Match Play, where he began his marathon run.

While there will always be a concern that the Northern Irishman won’t have anything left in the tank when he arrives in the Pacific Northwest for the year’s second major, if his play last week at the Wells Fargo Championship, where he lapped the field by seven strokes, is any indication he’s not exactly running on fumes.


It’s not so much about whether Rory McIlroy will be fatigued going to the U.S. Open - he’ll have two weeks off leading into the year’s second major after this five-week blitz - it’s whether he’s spent when he gets to Chambers Bay, whether he peaked too early.

With his victories at the WGC-Cadillac Match Play Championship and Wells Fargo Championship, McIlroy’s on fire. He heads to the European Tour’s big event at the BMW PGA this week and then the Irish Open with terrific momentum, but it’s natural to wonder how long he can fan the flames. McIlroy’s on a run of big events where he’ll need those two weeks off to re-charge his batteries. The trick will be keeping those weeks off from becoming a cooling-off period.

McIlroy has a nice history of going on tears. He won three times over a five-week span in 2012 and three times in a four-week span last year. This five-week run he is on now could well end with three or four victories. With any hot run like that, there’s the danger of a letdown getting the rest he needs going to the U.S. Open. That’s what he’ll be guarding against.


Rory McIlroy is in the midst of a five-event run that will see him visit three countries and cross eighttime zones in 33 days. Forget for a moment that he’s 26 and in outstanding shape. That’s still a ton of golf for anybody.

But on a scale from Who Cares to Defcon 5, McIlroy’s whirlwind world tour hardly registers. Why? Because he’s been taking steps to minimize the workload, delaying his arrival at each of his past three tournaments to Wednesday. Plus, by skipping the Memorial, he’ll have two weeks off before the U.S. Open.

When he returns home to South Florida, McIlroy can (1) shelve the clubs for a few days to decompress; (2)return to the range and ramp up with a full week of practice; and then (3) fly to Seattle for a couple of weekend practice rounds at Chambers Bay before tournament week.

He won’t be rusty, because he just played five consecutive events. Nor will he be burnt out, because he just had two weeks off. Hmm, come to think of it, Rory’s actually sounds like the ideal schedule.


Haven’t we been through this exercise before with Rory McIlroy? Everyone was expecting a dip last summer as he tore through some of the summer’s biggest tournaments, but he never slowed down in completing a three-leg sweep from Liverpool to Akron to Louisville. At 26 years young, McIlroy can recover from a long stretch of play better than guys like Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson, and he will have two full weeks off before teeing it up at Chambers Bay.

This stretch of five straight events across two continents and three countries is a formidable slate, but it will only serve to sharpen McIlroy’s game heading into the U.S. Open – not that it needs much sharpening after his romp at Quail Hollow. He has taken similarly busy approaches to preparing for past majors, and he has done so with considerable success. Barring some sort of injury, there’s no reason to think he’ll run out of gas this time around. 

American Junior Golf Association

Junior golfer's amazing run: ace, albatross, birdie

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 11:03 pm

While most of the golf world had its attention focused on Scotland and The Open Championship at Carnoustie on Thursday, the REALLY remarkable performance of the day was taking place in Halifax, Mass.

There, in an American Junior Golf Association tournament, a 16-year-old Thai player made a hole-in-one and an albatross on consecutive holes.

According to the AJGA, Conor Kelly holed a 5-iron shot on the 198-yard, par-3 eighth hole. It was his first hole-in-one. He then holed a 4-iron second shot from 220 yards on the 480-yard ninth holer for the albatross. (We're gonna go out on a limb and say it was his first albatross.)

Certainly a nice way to make the turn - but Kelly wasn't finished. He birdied the par-4 10th for a 1-2-3 sequence on his scorecard. For the day, he shot a 5-under 67 in the AJGA Junior Golf Hub Championship at the Country Club of Halifax.

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McIlroy, Rahm betting co-favorites after Open Round 1

By Will GrayJuly 19, 2018, 10:10 pm

They're both three shots off the lead, but after starting The Open with rounds in the 60s Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm are now betting co-favorites to lift the claret jug at Carnoustie.

McIlroy is four years removed from his Open triumph at Royal Liverpool, while Rahm remains in search of his first major title. Both carded rounds of 2-under 69 in Scotland to sit three shots off the lead of Kevin Kisner. While McIlroy started the tournament at 16/1 and Rahm at 20/1, they're now dead even at 10/1 in updated odds at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook.

Kisner started the week at 200/1, but after an opening-round 66 he's quickly been trimmed to 25/1. Tony Finau sits one shot behind Kisner and is now listed behind only McIlroy and Rahm at 12/1 after starting the tournament at 60/1.

On the other side of the coin, consensus pre-tournament betting favorite Dustin Johnson fell from 12/1 to 100/1 following an opening 76 while Masters champ Patrick Reed shot a 4-over 75 to plummet from 30/1 to 200/1. Trailing by five shots following an opening-round 71, Tiger Woods' odds remained unchanged at 25/1 as he seeks a 15th career major title.

Here's a look at the revised betting odds heading into the second round at Carnoustie:

10/1: Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm

12/1: Tony Finau

14/1: Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler

20/1: Francesco Molinari

25/1: Tiger Woods, Alex Noren, Henrik Stenson, Kevin Kisner

30/1: Jordan Spieth, Zach Johnson, Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka

40/1: Ryan Moore, Jason Day

50/1: Erik Van Rooyen, Brandon Stone, Matt Kuchar

60/1: Danny Willett, Thomas Pieters, Marc Leishman, Thorbjorn Olesen, Russell Henley, Matthew Southgate

80/1: Webb Simpson, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Brendan Steele, Kevin Na

100/1: Dustin Johnson, Zander Lombard, Sung Kang, Paul Casey, Louis Oosthuizen, Xander Schauffele, Chris Wood, Pat Perez, Luke List, Charley Hoffman

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Despite 78, Lincicome savors PGA Tour experience

By Randall MellJuly 19, 2018, 9:41 pm

Two bad holes derailed Brittany Lincicome in her historic start Thursday at the Barbasol Championship, but they couldn’t wipe the smile off her face afterward.

It might have been the most fun she ever had shooting a 78.

Lincicome joined Babe Zaharias, Shirley Spork, Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley and Michelle Wie as the only women to tee it up in a PGA Tour event when she striped her opening tee shot down the middle Thursday at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky.

A double bogey at her ninth hole and a triple at her 16th might have spoiled her chances at joining Zaharias as the only women to make a 36-hole cut in a PGA Tour event, but it didn’t spoil her experience.

“I did what I wanted to do, with having fun,” Lincicome said. “I think I nailed that part pretty well.

“I love playing with the guys. It's so much fun, being inside the ropes with them. Hopefully, I can get a good one tomorrow.”

Lincicome, 32, held her own for 16 holes, playing them in 1 over par, but those two big numbers left her tied for last place when she signed her scorecard, though other players remained on the course.

At 6 over, Lincicome is 13 shots behind the leader, probably seven or eight shots off the projected cut line, but she savored the experience. She arrived wanting to inspire young girls to dream big, and to bring some extra attention to a title sponsor who means so much to her. She represents Pure Silk, part of the Barbasol family.

Sam Ryder, who joined Conrad Shindler playing alongside Lincicome, was impressed with the way Lincicome carried herself.

“I would play with her every day if she wanted to,” said Ryder, who opened with a 68. “She's just a great person.

“Even though I know she's probably a little disappointed with her final score, she had a smile on her face all day.”

Lincicome, an eight-time LPGA winner, made her first birdie at her 12th hole, dropping a 30-foot putt, but she wasn’t happy with her putter much of the day. She missed three other good birdie chances, a 4-footer at her eighth hole, an 8-footer at her 10th and a 12-footer at the last.

“Pretty happy with my game overall,” Lincicome said. “I had two bad holes, but I drove it well. I did all the things I said I needed to do, but my putter let me down today.”

After piping her first drive, Lincicome opened with three consecutive pars.

“I was actually calmer than I thought I was going to be,” she said. “I thought I was going to be a nervous wreck. After the first tee shot, I was pretty happy that I found the fairway.”

Lincicome said Ryder and Shindler made her feel welcome. So did the crowds.

“It was great,” she said. “I could feel the energy of the crowd support me. Every time I hit a good driver or good shot, they would cheer for me, which was great.

“Conrad and Sam were so nice. I couldn't have asked for a better pairing. They were very welcoming, and we were interacting, they were asking me questions, and it was great.”

On Tuesday, Lincicome said a key to her play would be hitting fairways. She did that, hitting 10 of 14, but she was taking in longer clubs than she does in LPGA events, with Keene Trace set up at 7,168 yards. That’s 600 yards longer than she played last week at the LPGA’s Marathon Classic, where she finished second. She hit just 8 greens in regulation in this PGA Tour start.

Lincicome is nicknamed “Bam Bam.” She is one of the LPGA’s longest drivers, but she was typically 30 to 40 yards behind Ryder and Shindler after hitting her driver. She averaged 259 yards per drive, Ryder 289 yards.

“She had a couple birdie putts that she could have made,” Ryder said. “If she made a couple of those, might've been a little bit different, just to get a little bit of momentum. Who knows?”

Lincicome’s biggest challenges were the par 3s.

At the 18th, playing 195 yards, she mis-hit her tee shot, knocking it in the water, short of the green. She took a penalty, moved up to a forward tee, dropped and hit into a right greenside bunker. She got up and down from there for a 5.

At the seventh, playing 198 yards, she missed wild right and deep. From a tough spot in the rough, she left her pitch short of the green. She chipped her third past the hole and to the fringe, where she took three putts from 20 feet.

Afterward, Lincicome wasn’t dwelling on the bad shots. She was focused on going to sign autographs for all the fans waiting for her, including all the little girls who came out to see her.

“I need to go back over there and sign,” she said. “Any time I can influence a child, especially a girl, obviously I want to get them involved with the LPGA, as much as possible.”

Her overall assessment of her day?

“It was a great experience,” she said.

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Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 8:55 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:

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.