McIlroy can reclaim No. 1 with win in Texas

By Jason SobelMarch 26, 2013, 4:50 pm

HUMBLE, Texas – Rory McIlroy waited until Tuesday morning to send a text message to Tiger Woods. He figured his buddy and fellow swoosh purveyor was a little busy on Monday evening following his third victory of the season, a triumph that allowed Woods to pass him on the Official World Golf Ranking and placed golf fans into a frenzy just two weeks prior to the Masters.

So McIlroy slept on his congratulatory remarks, then fired out a text before Woods teed it up in the Tavistock Cup, telling him, “Well done.” The two bantered back and forth electronically for a few minutes until Tiger offered some unsolicited advice in advance of this week’s Shell Houston Open.

'He told me to get my finger out of my a-- and win this week,” Rory reported with a smile.

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Horrific mental imagery aside, a victory from McIlroy would be the next piece in an ever-intriguing chess match between the game’s two most polarizing stars. In a year that began with a Nike commercial entitled, “No Cup Is Safe” during which each player was doing his best “anything you can do, I can do better” routine, Woods is beyond one-upping his pal, taking an early 3-up advantage in the ongoing race for prominence among the game’s elite.

Then again, with Tigermania back in full effect, now seems like an appropriate time to interrupt this regularly scheduled jubilee to bring the following news: With a win this week, McIlroy can reclaim the No. 1 ranking in the world.

Maybe it says something about Rory himself or the weightiness of the position or the been-there, done-that part of the experience, but he doesn’t view the opportunity to leapfrog Woods again as any particular motivation.

“As [Woods] said [Monday], it was a byproduct of playing well and winning golf tournaments,” McIlroy explained. “He’s done that more than anyone this year and if he can take care of that, then that takes care of itself. It’s always nice to say that you’re on top of the world and on top of the rankings, but if you play the golf that you want to and win the tournaments that you want to, then that takes care of itself.”

Just weeks removed from glumly speaking about the pressures of the No. 1 ranking, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that McIlroy now cares so little about it that he didn’t even know what it would take this week – a win and only a win – to retake the honor.

Consider it a quixotic quandary: Not being No. 1 should free him up to play better golf, which in turn could translate into him becoming No. 1, when he may endure the pressure once again and play worse golf.

If the game is one of a cyclical nature, then McIlroy’s ebbs and flows could form the ultimate concentric circle.

When asked Tuesday if it’s a relief to not have the weight of the world ranking resting upon his shoulders, the 23-year-old acquiesced.

“I guess at the minute, yeah,” he said. “It’s nice to just go about my business and no one cares, go about it and not be the most talked about person in golf. It’s a nice thing.”

In fact, McIlroy seemed downright elated to talk about someone other than himself for a change. Of the 28 questions he received from reporters during his pre-tournament interview session, 17 were either directly about Woods or indirectly about Woods’ impact on his status.

Without hesitation, Rory spoke glowingly of the recent performance from his friend and main competition.

“His consistency is definitely back and he’s playing well week-in, week-out,” he stated. “When he was going through the first part of the swing changes with Sean [Foley], some weeks he had it, some weeks he didn’t. It seems like most weeks he comes out, he’s hitting the ball very solidly and anyone that’s going to beat him is going to have to play very, very well.”

McIlroy won’t have to beat Woods this week, as the new-old No. 1 is taking the next two weeks off prior to the Masters. That doesn’t mean he isn’t playing against him in one respect.

Whether he wants to or not, he will retake that role atop the world ranking with a victory this week. It’s not such a far-fetched scenario considering a final-round 65 in his last competitive round at the WGC-Cadillac Championship just a few weeks ago.

If it happens, McIlroy will pose with the trophy on the final green, one finger aloft to denote reclaiming such status.

And yes, he’ll likely receive another text message from Woods about that finger.

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Rose (64) peaking just ahead of the U.S. Open

By Nick MentaMay 25, 2018, 8:40 pm

A former U.S. Open champion appears to be finding his form just three weeks ahead of the year's second major.

Justin Rose ascended to the top of the leaderboard Friday at the Fort Worth Invitational, with rounds of 66-64 pushing him to 10 under par for the week.

Through 36 at Colonial, Rose has marked 12 birdies against just two bogeys.

"Yeah, I did a lot of good things today," Rose said. "I think, you know, the end of my round got a little scrappy, but until the last three holes it was pretty flawless. I think I hit every fairway pretty much and obviously every green to that point. ...

"Yeah, the way I played through, I guess through my first 15 holes today, was about as good as I've played in a long time."

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Rose won in back-to-back weeks last fall, stunning Dustin Johnson at the WGC-HSBC Championship and riding that victory right into another at the Turkish Airlines Open.

Now the 2013 U.S. Open winner at Merion feels himself once again rounding into form ahead of this year's Open at Shinnecock. A final-round 66 at The Players gave Rose something to focus on in his recent practice sessions with swing coach Sean Foley, as the two work to shore up the timing of Rose's transition into the downswing.

As for his decision to tee it up at Colonial for the first time since 2010, "It was more the run of form really," Rose explained. "I feel like if I didn't play here it was going to be a little spotty going into the U.S. Open. I felt like I wanted to play enough golf where I would have a good read on my game going into Shinnecock.

"So rather than the venue it was more the timing, but it's obviously it's just such a bonus to be on a great layout like this."

For whatever reason, Rose does tend to play his best golf at iconic venues, having won PGA Tour events at Muirfield Village, Aronimink, Cog Hill, Doral, Merion and Congressional.

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Koepka (63): Two wrist dislocations in two months

By Nick MentaMay 25, 2018, 8:19 pm

Brook Koepka's journey back from a wrist injury that kept him out four months hasn't been totally smooth sailing, even if his play has suggested otherwise.

Koepka on Friday fired a 7-under 63 to move up the leaderboard into a tie for third, three shots behind leader Justin Rose through the end of the morning wave at the Fort Worth Invitational.

After a slow start Thursday saw him play his first 13 holes 3 over, Koepka is 10 under with 11 birdies in his last 23 holes at Colonial.

"It doesn't matter to me. I could care less. I'm still going to try as hard as I can," Koepka said. "I don't care how many over or how many under I am. Still going to fight through it."

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Just like he's been fighting his wrist the last two months or so. Koepka reinjured his wrist the Wednesday of The Players when he was practicing on the range and had to halt mid-swing after a golf cart drove in front of him. He nonetheless managed to finish T-11.

And that's not the only issue he's had with that wrist during his return.

"We had a bone pop out of place. I didn't tell anybody, but, yeah, they popped it back in," Koepka admitted Friday. "Luckily enough we kind of popped it back into place right away so it wasn't stiff and I didn't have too, too many problems.

"Yeah. I mean, I've dislocated my wrist twice in the last two months. You know, different spots, but, I mean, it's fun. I'll be all right."

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Twitter spat turns into fundraising opportunity

By Rex HoggardMay 25, 2018, 6:30 pm

Country music star Jake Owen, along with Brandt Snedeker, has turned a spat on Twitter into a fundraising campaign that will support Snedeker’s foundation.

On Thursday, Owen was criticized during the opening round of the Tour’s Nashville Golf Open, which benefits the Snedeker Foundation, for his poor play after opening with an 86.

In response, Snedeker and country singer Chris Young pledged $5,000 for every birdie that Owen makes on Friday in a campaign called NGO Birdies for Kids

Although Owen, who is playing the event on a sponsor exemption, doesn’t tee off for Round 2 in Nashville until 2 p.m. (CT), the campaign has already generated interest, with NBC Sports/Golf Channel analyst Peter Jacobsen along with Tour player Zac Blair both pledging $100 for every birdie Owen makes.

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Noren so impressed by Rory: 'I'm about to quit golf'

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 25, 2018, 5:33 pm

Alex Noren won the BMW PGA Championship last year, one of his nine career European Tour victories.

He opened his title defense at Wentworth Club in 68-69 and is tied for fourth through two rounds. Unfortunately, he's five back of leader Rory McIlroy. And after playing the first two days alongside McIlroy, Noren, currently ranked 19th in the world, doesn't seem to like his chances of back-to-back wins.

McIlroy opened in 67 and then shot a bogey-free 65 in second round, which included pars on the pair of par-5 finishing holes. Noren walked away left in awe.

"That's the best round I've ever seen," Noren said. "I'm about to quit golf, I think."

Check out the full interview below: