What we learned: McIlroy runs away with 2nd major

By Jay CoffinAugust 13, 2012, 1:40 am

KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. – Each week, GolfChannel.com offers thoughts on 'what we learned' from the week. This time it's an easy task for the team at the PGA Championship; we focus on another major-less season by Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy's second major win at age 23.

I need to trust what players say a little more. Journalists by nature are bred to be skeptical. We're not necessarily supposed to believe everything we're told. Sometimes it's the truth, sometimes it's less than the truth. When Rory McIlroy played terribly at the Masters then went on a stretch where he missed four of five cuts – including the U.S. Open – I didn't believe him when he said he wasn't concerned, that he thought good play was just around the corner. I bought into some of the talk that he was more interested in chasing his tennis girlfriend all over the world. Won't make that mistake again with Rory. When he talks, I'll listen. And I'll believe him. – Jay Coffin

That Rory McIlroy may not be a once-in-a-lifetime player, like Tiger Woods, but he is swiftly becoming a once-in-a-generation player.

We also discovered that Kiawah may be an idyllic slice of Atlantic Coast faux linksland, but if the PGA of America plans to bring its marquee tournament back to this corner of the Low Country may we suggest another bridge or perhaps flying shuttle buses. – Rex Hoggard

I learned that Tiger Woods is desperate, really desperate, to win a 15th major. How else to explain his bizarre decision to change the way he approached the weekend at the PGA Championship? The pressure to win a major was intensifying, and he was pressing, plain and simple. Thus, he decided that he wanted to “enjoy the process” of attempting to win a major, even trying to be “a little bit happy out there.” Some have suggested that this was just a convenient excuse, a way to bypass the larger issue of his weekend woes in majors. Even Woods was quick to admit that the Happy Experiment flopped, miserably, so expect to see the usual ruthless competitor come April 2013. – Ryan Lavner

I learned that we should have seen this coming. Three years ago, I sat in the clubhouse at Doral shooting the breeze with Ian Poulter on a number of topics. When Rory McIlroy’s name was broached, Poulter sat forward in his seat and stared right at me. “He hits it a long way. He hits it straight. He owns good distance control with his irons. He’s a solid putter. And he has the right mental resolve to succeed in this game,” he said. He then threw his arms up in the air and rhetorically asked, “That’s golf. What else is there?” In the history of the game, there have been very few players of whom we could list such natural talents at such a young age. Rarely did any flame out. McIlroy is right in line to be the next superstar, if he’s not there already. We can hold off on handing out legendary status until he’s accomplished more, but I’m confident greater successes are on the horizon. After all, he’s got all the tools. That’s golf. What else is there?  Jason Sobel

Rory McIlroy is complicating the most compelling question in golf. Can Tiger Woods surpass Jack Nicklaus’ record for major championship titles? That’s the question that captivates the golf world, but McIlroy seems intent on amending it. With McIlroy winning his second major Sunday, another dominating performance in a record eight-shot rout, the compelling question now may be: Can Woods get through McIlroy to claim Nicklaus’ record? McIlroy’s second major championship triumph is validation that his heart is every bit the rival of his talent. He’s a large presence in the game’s largest events now, and he may be a Tiger roadblock, too. If Woods keeps coming on, and he seems determined to find his best form again, he may have to beat McIlroy to beat Nicklaus. Randall Mell

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Man bites off finger during golf course brawl

By Associated PressAugust 19, 2018, 3:45 pm

PLYMOUTH, Mass. – A man has bitten off another man’s finger during a fight at a Massachusetts golf course.

WCVB-TV reports a 47-year-old man was arrested at the Southers Marsh Golf Club in Plymouth Friday after he apparently got into a fight with another golfer and bit off a part of his thumb.

The station reports the victim’s thumb had been bitten off to his knuckle and he was transported to a local hospital for treatment. The incident happened around sunset.

The attacker was arrested and charged with mayhem. A police dispatcher declined to comment Saturday and Chief Michael Botieri didn’t immediately return a call seeking more information.

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Snedeker leads by one heading into final round

By Associated PressAugust 19, 2018, 3:26 pm

GREENSBORO, N.C. – Brandt Snedeker took a one-stroke lead into the final round of the weather-delayed Wyndham Championship after finishing the third round Sunday with a 2-under 68.

Snedeker was at 16-under 194 through three rounds of the final PGA Tour event of the regular season. Brian Gay and David Hearn were at 15 under, with Gay shooting a 62 and Hearn a 64.

Thirty players were on the course Saturday when play was suspended because of severe weather. After a delay of 3 hours, 23 minutes, organizers chose to hold things up until Sunday morning.

Snedeker, who shot an opening-round 59 to become just the 10th tour player to break 60, is chasing his first victory since 2016 and his second career win at this tournament.

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Olesen edges past Poulter in Ryder Cup standings

By Will GrayAugust 19, 2018, 3:10 pm

With only two weeks left in the qualification window, Thorbjorn Olesen is now in position to make his Ryder Cup debut.

Olesen finished alone in fourth place at the Nordea Masters, two shots out of a playoff between Thomas Aiken and eventual winner Paul Waring. Olesen carded four straight sub-70 rounds in Sweden, including a final-round 67 that featured three birdies over his final seven holes.

It's a tight race for the fourth and final Ryder Cup spot via the World Points list, and Olesen's showing this week will allow him to move past Paul Casey and Ian Poulter, both of whom didn't play this week, into the No. 4 slot. Olesen is now also less than 40,000 Euros behind Tommy Fleetwood to qualify via the European Points list.

The top four players from both lists on Sept. 2 will qualify for next month's matches, with captain Thomas Bjorn rounding out the roster with four selections on Sept. 4. Poulter and Casey will both have a chance to move back in front next week at The Northern Trust, while the final qualifying week will include the PGA Tour event at TPC Boston and Olesen headlining the field in his homeland at the Made in Denmark.

Even if Olesen fails to qualify automatically for Paris, the 28-year-old continues to bolster his credentials for a possible pick from his countryman, Bjorn. Olesen won the Italian Open in June, finished second at the BMW International Open three weeks later and has now compiled four top-12 finishes over his last five worldwide starts including a T-3 result at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational earlier this month.

In addition to the players who fail to qualify from the Olesen-Poulter-Casey trio, other candidates for Bjorn's quartet of picks will likely include major champions Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson.

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Thompson bounces back from rule violation

By Randall MellAugust 19, 2018, 2:22 am

If Lexi Thompson’s trouble in the sixth fairway brought back any painful memories Saturday at the Indy Women in Tech Championship, she shook them off in a hurry.

If the approach of another rules official amid a spirited run of brilliant play rattled her, she didn’t show it.

Thompson posted an 8-under-par 64 in the third round despite another awkward rules infraction.

Her round was impressively bogey free but not mistake free, and so her work will be a little harder Sunday chasing Lizette Salas.

After incurring a one-shot penalty for violating a local rule in effect for preferred lies, Thompson will start the final round five shots back instead of four.

She knows she’s fortunate she isn’t six back.

If a rules official hadn’t witnessed Thompson in the middle of committing the infraction, she could have been assessed an additional penalty shot for playing from the wrong spot.

Thompson got the penalty after stepping on the 10th tee and blowing her drive right, into the sixth fairway. She got it after picking up her ball over there and lifting, cleaning and placing it. She got it because she wasn’t allowed to do that in any other fairway except for the fairway of the hole she was playing.

The preferred-lie rule was distributed to players earlier in the week.

The story here isn’t really the penalty.

Full-field scores from Indy Women in Tech Championship

It’s Thompson’s reaction to it, because she opened this week in such heartfelt fashion. After skipping the Ricoh Women’s British Open to take a month-long “mental break,” Thompson revealed this week that she has been struggling emotionally in the wake of last year’s highs and lows. She opened up about how trying to “hide” her pain and show strength through it all finally became too much to bear. She needed a break. She also candidly shared how the challenges of being a prodigy who has poured herself into the game have led her to seek therapists’ help in building a life about more than golf.

That’s a lot for a 23-year-old to unload publicly.

Last year may have been the best and the worst of Thompson’s career. She said dealing with that controversial four-shot penalty that cost her the ANA Inspiration title, watching her mother battle cancer and losing a grandmother were cumulatively more difficult to deal with than she ever let on. There was also that short missed putt at year’s end that could have vaulted her to Rolex world No. 1 for the first time and led to her winning the Rolex Player of the Year title. She still won twice, won the Vare Trophy for low scoring average and was the Golf Writers Association of America Player of the Year.

That’s a lot of peaks and valleys for a young soul.

That’s the kind of year that can make you feel like an old soul in a hurry.

So seeing a rules official approach her on Saturday, you wondered about Thompson gathering herself so quickly. You wondered what she was thinking stepping up and ripping her next shot 215 majestic yards, about her hitting the green and saving par. You wondered about how she  bounced back to birdie 13 and 14 and finish bogey free.

With this week’s soul bearing, you wondered a lot about what rebounding like that meant to her.

We’re left to wonder from afar, though, because she wasn’t asked any of those questions by local reporters afterward. The transcript showed three brief answers to three short questions, none about the penalty or the challenge she met.

Of course, there were other questions to be asked, because local rules have been an issue this year. Did she read the local notes with the preferred lies explanation? She got hit with another local rules issue in Thailand this year, when she hit her ball near an advertising sign and moved the sign, not realizing a local rule made the sign a temporary immovable obstruction.

Of course, there were other good stories in Indy, too, with Sung Hyun Park poised to overtake Ariya Jutanugarn and return to Rolex world No. 1, with Salas holding off Park so brilliantly down the stretch Saturday.

Thompson, though, is the highest ranked American in the world. She’s the face of American women’s golf now. A face more tender, resolute and vulnerable than we have ever seen it.

Folks along the ropes watching her on the back nine in Indy Saturday got to see that better than any of us.