McIlroy happy with being returning champion

By Jason SobelJune 12, 2012, 11:21 pm

SAN FRANCISCO – Rory McIlroy has finally hit the big-time.

A major championship? Not bad. A stint atop the world ranking? Cool. A world-class tennis-playing girlfriend? Hey, whatever floats your boat.

These days, though, a celebrity hasn’t truly made it big until he’s received his own bobblehead doll (pictured above). With a likeness that he calls “maybe better looking than me, which is a good thing” given out at Tuesday night’s San Francisco Giants game as part of Irish Heritage Night, McIlroy has been launched into an echelon that includes everyone from rock-and-roll stars to low-level politicians.

Like them – and their bobbleheads, too – McIlroy has a penchant for nodding his noggin at times, less yes man than just an agreeable lad.

In advance of his title defense at this week’s 112th U.S. Open Championship, the 23-year-old was peppered by reporters on a variety of topics and, much like his saluting statue, appeared amenable to most hypotheses.

Video: Rory McIlroy news conference

Video: Tiger Woods news conference

Video: Phil Mickelson news conference

On whether he’s enjoyed returning to the U.S. Open as defending champion:

Yeah, for sure. It's been a great 12 months. To play these 12 months as a major champion and get to deal with everything that comes along with that has been a great experience…

On whether his recent string of three straight missed cuts hurt his confidence:

Yeah, of course it does. I think it's only natural you just start to question yourself and question your game a little bit…

On whether last week’s title contention helped that confidence:

Yeah, it was important for me. That was the whole reason to go to Memphis last week…

On whether his definition of a successful week has changed:

Yeah, it has, for sure. You're not just happy with top 10's anymore, and you're not happy finishing in the top five…

On whether becoming No. 1 once again will be tougher than he once thought:

Yeah, it is what it is. Luke has got a little bit of a lead. But it's so volatile, it can just change so much… 

On whether this week’s course setup will be exceedingly severe:

Yeah, I mean you've got to concentrate over every shot here...

All those “yeahs” are enough to leave a guy bobblin’ his head for minutes after being prompted, but the accordances underscore the meaning behind the rhetoric. In simpler terms, he may be agreeable, but McIlroy isn’t without articulate opinions – from his own game to course setup to, well, anything else that he’s asked to address.

With world-class players like Matteo Manassero four years his junior and Andy Zhang reaching this week’s field at age 14, we sometimes overlook McIlroy’s youthfulness. Perhaps that’s a result of being a professional for a half-decade already or enjoying so much early success in his career, but mostly it’s due to his interview room proficiency and lack of trying to hide his viewpoints or push any agendas.

McIlroy is indeed a rare breath of fresh air in a celebrity world where Q-rating so often stands for anything but quality.

He speaks his mind, which is all anyone can ask for when, well, asking something.

“Last year at Congressional it was great to get that monkey off my back, if you want to say that, very early in my career,” he said. “It's been great. The last 12 months has been fantastic. I felt like I played very well in that time. And really looking forward to this week and giving it a good go in trying to defend.”

Whatever happens, he’ll always have that bobbling doppelganger to nod along in agreement.

And don’t think others haven’t taken notice. When asked why the world’s No. 2-ranked player has his own ceramic likeness and he doesn’t, No. 1-ranked Luke Donald explained that he still has work left to do.

“Probably win a U.S. Open by eight shots,” he said. “Or at least by one.”

Rory McIlroy wasn’t around when he said those words, but no doubt he would have agreed, his self-described better-looking bobblehead nodding in unison.

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Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off

By Associated PressJuly 20, 2018, 11:29 pm

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - Brittany Lincicome will have to wait until the weekend to resume her bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.

Overnight storms delayed the start of the second round Friday in the Barbasol Championship, and an afternoon thunderstorm suspended competition for good. The round will resume Saturday morning with much of the field still to play.

The second stoppage at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came 20 minutes before Lincicome's scheduled tee time.

Lincicome was near the bottom of the field after opening with a 6-over 78 on Thursday. The first LPGA player since Michelle Wie in 2008 to start a PGA Tour event, she needs a huge rebound to join Babe Zaharias (1945) as the only female players to make the cut.

Troy Merritt had the clubhouse lead at 15 under, following an opening 62 with a 67.

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Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson

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Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

“There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

“I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

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Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

“I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

“It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

“I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”