Punch shot: Will McIlroy regain his form by the Masters?

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 5, 2013, 1:30 pm

Rory McIlroy may be the No. 1-ranked player in the world, but not if you go by his recent form. His 2013 season has consisted of a missed cut in Abu Dhabi, a first-round exit in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship and a mid-second-round withdrawal at the Honda Classic. Our writers weigh in on whether they think he'll regain his form by The Masters.


No, and it’s a shame.

It’s a shame because the Masters is the major that McIlroy covets most. It’s a shame because he won’t atone for the self-immolation in 2011, or the lost weekend last April. It’s a shame because when the first major of the year rolls around, one of the game’s leading men, the second-most recognizable star, the world No. 1, might still wonder which direction his golf ball is headed.

Much can change between now and April 11, of course. Maybe he’ll grow more comfortable with his new Nike equipment. Maybe he’ll fix that flaw in his takeaway.

But alas, the more likely scenario is that when McIlroy pegs it for the first round of the Masters, he will lack the precision required to compete at Augusta National. In three starts we have seen little to convince us otherwise. He has eight, maybe six, more competitive rounds to figure it out.

Rory will win – and win big – once again. But for that we’ll need to wait till summer.


Is this a rerun? Because I could swear I’ve seen this show before – and I know it has a happy ending.

Less than one year ago, Rory McIlroy missed the cut at The Players Championship, then flew overseas and missed the cut at the BMW PGA Championship, as well. After an uninspiring opening-round 71 at the Memorial Tournament, I decided to follow him for 18 holes the next morning to see what was going on with him.

What I saw was a player who was seriously struggling. McIlroy shot a 79 that day – light years from the cut line – and I truly believed he was in for some long-term problems that could hamper his game for a while.

Fast-forward two months, and Rory was cruising around Kiawah in historic fashion, lapping the field in an eight-stroke PGA Championship victory. Moral of the story: It’s always darkest before the dawn. Or something like that.

Actually the real moral of the story is that we shouldn’t be so quick to diagnose his issues as being ones that will hold him back for a long time. McIlroy is never going to be Tiger Woods of the same age – which is to say, a player who either wins or finishes in the top 10 every week. In that sense, he’s more like Phil Mickelson. Yes, he will miss his share of cuts, but he will also turn things around quicker than most others. In some respects, that makes him even more interesting. As Forrest Gump might say about Rory: You never know what you’re gonna get.

Toss in the fact that I’ve got Jack Nicklaus on my side maintaining that McIlroy will be ready for Augusta, and I’m feeling pretty good about those chances. After all, I’ve seen this show before. I know how it ends.


Rory McIlroy will get this fixed, but it’s difficult to see it happening in time to rekindle his confidence before the Masters.

Something’s wrong, and I’m not sure a dentist can fix it.

McIlroy was described as near tears walking to his car after plunking three balls in the water over his first nine holes and withdrawing Friday morning at the Honda Classic. We aren’t quite certain what the source of his pain really is. Maybe a pair of pliers is all that’s needed to remove the source of the trouble. Maybe not.

If we learned anything last Sunday at the Honda Classic, it’s how quickly a lost player can find himself. Michael Thompson went from dead last to winner in one start. If he can do it, McIlroy can, too, but there’s a difference between PGA National and Augusta National. You don’t go to the Masters looking for your swing. That leaves McIlroy the WGC-Cadillac Championship and the Shell Houston Open to work out what’s ailing him. He will work this out, but they won’t be pushing back the Masters waiting for him to do so.


So we are to believe that between now and the time he motors down Magnolia Lane, Rory McIlroy will be unable to find a reliable driver-golf ball combination or a modicum of confidence?

Chicken Littles would have you believe that the Ulsterman has played his way from alpha male to afterthought in three wildly abbreviated starts in 2013 and will be a non-story at the Masters, but that is simply not the case.

This is the same player who led by four strokes through three rounds at the 2011 Masters, lost his swing somewhere around Butler Cabin on Sunday on his way to a closing 80, and two starts later won the  U.S. Open by eight strokes.

The same guy who missed four cuts in five starts midway through last summer, received a pep talk from short game guru Dave Stockton Sr. and won the PGA Championship by eight strokes.

So forgive us if a rocky start and a bag full of new sticks doesn’t exactly send us pining for a time when McIlroy was on cruise control, because that day never existed.

McIlroy will rebound from his current slide and find his Masters mojo in time to contend at the year’s first major, because that’s what he always does, just check his record.



I was willing to discount the opening missed cut at Abu Dhabi. I even felt like the loss to friend Shane Lowry at Dove Mountain wasn’t reason to reach for the panic button. After everything that happened at the Honda Classic, though, I now have serious questions about Rory McIlroy’s game – at least in the short term.

For those expecting the Ulsterman to magically find his form just as the azaleas bloom, keep in mind he hasn’t exactly been a model of consistency in the majors of late. Outside of his win at Kiawah, McIlroy has only one other top-30 finish in a major since his romp at Congressional (a tie for 25th at the 2011 British Open). And that was pre-club controversy, and definitely pre-toothache.

Now with (likely) only two starts left until McIlroy rides down Magnolia Lane, we still have more questions than answers. For me, the biggest of those questions surrounds what I’ve seen of his on-course game – specifically, an inability to control approach shots. Heading to Augusta National, where the difference between a good and a bad iron shot into nuanced greens can be measured in feet, not yards, I fear the 23-year-old’s inconsistency will cost him. Regardless of world ranking, ANGC is no place to try to find your swing.

Do I think he’ll ultimately regain the form that helped him land a pair of majors by age 23? I do. But do I think he’ll don the green jacket at the close of this season’s first major? At this point, I do not.

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Molinari holds off McIlroy to win BMW PGA

By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 3:20 pm

VIRGINIA WATER, England - Rory McIlroy left his victory charge too late at Wentworth as Francesco Molinari delivered a clinic in front-running to win the BMW PGA Championship by two shots with a 4-under 68 on Sunday.

McIlroy, who led by three strokes at halfway, entered the final round tied for the lead with Molinari on 13 under par but a Sunday shootout at the European Tour's flagship event never really materialized.

Instead, as McIlroy toiled to a 70 that was propped up by birdies on the par fives at Nos. 17 and 18, Molinari went bogey-free for a second straight day to claim the fifth victory of his career and the biggest since a World Golf Championship in Shanghai in 2010.

The Italian only dropped two shots all week and finished on 17-under 271, with McIlroy alone in second place. Alex Noren (67) and Lucas Bjerregaard (65) were tied for third place a stroke further back.

Molinari moved into the automatic qualifying places for the Ryder Cup, which he hasn't played since 2012 when Europe beat the United States in the so-called ''Miracle at Medinah.''

Full-field scores from the BMW PGA Championship

He'd previously had five top-10 finishes in the last six years at Wentworth, including being runner-up to Noren last year.

On that occasion, Noren closed with a 10-under 62 - one of the best rounds ever on the European Tour - and the Swede embarked on another last-day charge 12 months later, a fifth birdie of the day at No. 12 briefly drawing him to within two shots of Molinari.

It was the closest he came, with a bogey at the next virtually ending his bid for victory.

Molinari played safe and error-free golf, establishing a three-shot lead by the turn with birdies at Nos. 3, 4 and 8, and there were no dramas on the back nine - until the final hole, which he played holding a three-stroke cushion over McIlroy.

With McIlroy on the green in two and facing a 20-foot putt for eagle, Molinari sent in his third shot that span back toward the water protecting the green, only for the ball to rest in the fringe.

McIlroy left his putt inches short and Molinari two-putted for par.

McIlroy, the four-time major winner and former No. 1, played what he described as one of his best rounds of 2018 on Friday, a bogey-free 65 that left him as an overwhelming favorite to follow up his victory here in 2014.

He struggled off the tee in shooting 71 on Saturday and started the final round with errant drives on Nos. 1 and 3 (both right, into spectators) and No. 4 (left). After a bogey at No. 10, he was the only player in the top 10 over par but he birdied the three par fives coming home to salvage what was otherwise a disappointing Sunday.

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Four top finishers in Japan qualify for The Open

By Associated PressMay 27, 2018, 10:19 am

IBARAKI, Japan – Shota Akiyoshi of Japan shot a 2-under-par 70 on Sunday to win the Mizuno Open and qualify for The 147th Open.

Akiyoshi offset three bogeys with five birdies at the Royal Golf Club in Ibaraki, Japan, to finish 1 under overall and secure his first ever tournament win on the Japan Golf Tour.

Michael Hendry of New Zealand and Japanese golfers Masahiro Kawamura and Masanori Kobayashi were tied for second one stroke off the pace to also qualify for The Open at Carnoustie, Scotland, from July 19-22.

Hendry, who led the tournament coming into the final round, came close to forcing a playoff with Akiyoshi but dropped a shot with a bogey on the final hole when he needed a par to draw level.

Hendry will make his second appearance at The Open after qualifying at the Mizuno Open for the second year in a row.

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Lewis hopes to win at Volvik with baby on the way

By Randall MellMay 27, 2018, 12:55 am

Stacy Lewis was listening to more than her caddie on her march up the leaderboard Saturday at the Volvik Championship.

Pregnant with her first child, she is listening to her body in a new way these days.

And she could hear a message coming through loud and clear toward the end of her round at Travis Point Country Club in Ann Arbor, Mich.

“The little one was telling me it’s dinnertime,” Lewis said.

Lewis birdied five of the last six holes to shoot 5-under-par 67 and move into position to make a Sunday run at winning her 13th LPGA title. She is two shots behind the leader, Minjee Lee, whose 68 moved her to 12 under overall.

Sunday has the makings of a free for all with 10 players within three shots of the lead.

Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship

Lewis, 33, is four months pregnant, with her due date Nov. 3. She’s expecting to play just a few more times before putting the clubs away to get ready for the birth. She said she’s likely to make the Marathon Classic in mid-July her last start of the season before returning next year.

Of course, Lewis would relish winning with child.

“I don’t care what limitations I have or what is going on with my body, I want to give myself a chance to win,” she told LPGA.com at the Kingsmill Championship last week.

Lewis claimed an emotional victory with her last title, taking the Cambia Portland Classic late last summer after announcing earlier in the week that she would donate her entire winnings to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in her Houston hometown.

A victory Sunday would also come with a lot of emotion.

It’s been an interesting year for Lewis.

There’s been the joy of learning she’s ready to begin the family she has been yearning for, and the struggle to play well after bouncing back from injury.

Lewis missed three cuts in a row before making it into the weekend at the Kingsmill Championship last week. That’s one more cut than she missed cumulatively in the previous six years. In six starts this year, Lewis hasn’t finished among the top 50 yet, but she hasn’t felt right, either.

The former world No. 1 didn’t make her second start of 2018 until April, at the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration. She withdrew from the HSBC Women’s World Championship in late February with a strained right oblique muscle and didn’t play again for a month.

Still, Lewis is finding plenty to get excited about with the baby on the way.

“I kind of had my first Mother’s Day,” Lewis told LPGA.com last week. “It puts golf into perspective. It makes those bad days not seem so bad. It helps me sleep better at night. We are just really excited.”

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Rose hasn't visited restroom at Colonial - here's why

By Nick MentaMay 27, 2018, 12:20 am

In case you're unaware, it's pretty hot in Texas.

Temperatures at Colonial Country Club have approached 100 degrees this week, leaving players to battle both the golf course and potential dehydration.

With the help of his caddie Mark Fulcher, Fort Worth Invitational leader Justin Rose has been plenty hot himself, staking himself to a four-shot lead.

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

"Yeah, Fulch has done a great job of just literally handing me water bottle after water bottle. It seems relentless, to be honest with you," Rose said Saturday.

So just how much are players sweating the heat at Colonial? Well, it doesn't sound like all that water is making it all the way through Rose.

"I haven't even seen the inside of a restroom yet, so you can't even drink quick enough out there," he shared.