McIlroy manages high expectations

By Jason SobelMarch 5, 2015, 11:51 pm

DORAL, Fla – It was right around the time Rory McIlroy was tapping in for a double bogey to complete his first nine holes of the WGC-Cadillac Championship on Thursday with a big, fat 40 that I started thinking about something he said during his pre-tournament news conference one day earlier: “I know going into this week where my game is. So even if things maybe don't go my way at some point during the round, I'll know how to manage it a little bit better.”

It was right around the time he was bouncing back with an eagle and three birdies in his next eight holes to quickly steer himself in the right direction that I recalled something else he’d mentioned prior to the first round: “I feel in a better place and probably a little more prepared than I was last week.”

And it was right around the time he’d finished with a bogey and trudged toward the scoring area at Trump National Doral to sign for a 1-over 73 and faced a media throng inquiring what went so wrong on the heels of last week’s missed cut that I considered his reaction to such scrutiny: “I realize what's expected of me. I expect a lot from myself.”


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On a blustery day at the Blue Monster, McIlroy’s opening round might have been a little more roller coaster-ish than most others in the 73-man field, but the end result was actually better than the median. He is tied for 27th place and his score was a half-stroke better than the average. J.B. Holmes’ pacesetting 62 aside – one which had players wondering whether he’d played the right Doral track – McIlroy is only seven strokes out of second place with 54 holes remaining, hardly a death knell for a player capable of going so low on a course where major swings are almost built into the landscape.

Even so, there was a sense afterward that something might be wrong with his game, that whatever mercurial talents had led to him winning each of the last two major championships had somehow vanished in the early hours of this season.

That notion, of course, is a mistaken one, but it’s also understandable. For two decades now, Tiger Woods has dealt with the weight of expectations from both himself and the world around him. We can even argue that it’s the burden of those expectations which has led to the current state of his game. After all, it’s impossible to clear the bar when it’s been set considerably too high.

That’s another column for another day, though. This one is about McIlroy and his ability to – at the still-young age of 25 – not just deal with such lofty expectations, but address them directly and understand them fully. If any other player had posted a score of 1-over 73 in tough conditions – and there were a dozen total for the day – then answered questions about what went wrong, he might be apt to respond with all of the things which went right instead.

It’s also not as if McIlroy hasn’t dealt with these interrogations before. That opening-nine 40? It was his first since last year – a year when he won four times worldwide, sure, but also one during which he posted eight nine-hole splits in the 40s, an eye-popping number for a player of his accolades.

All of which should serve as a reminder that his Thursday score was nothing to worry about. In fact, for a player who is at best head and shoulders above the rest of his competition on any given week and at worst inconsistent and streaky, this was really par for the course – even if the final scorecard showed 1 over.

Don’t take my word for it, though. Just ask the guy who knows that with greater success comes greater expectations.

“Shooting 1 over par out there today isn't too bad,” he said. “It's obviously not what I wanted, but no reason to panic and no reason to be alarmed. Just go out tomorrow and put some red numbers on the board and try and get myself back in it.”

There is still plenty of time, of course. The player who preaches patience even under intense scrutiny knows this. He knows it just comes with the territory.

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McCarron closes with only bogey, shares lead

By Associated PressMay 26, 2018, 8:49 pm

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - Scott McCarron, seeking a second senior major title to go with his 2017 Senior Players Championship, made his only bogey of the third round on the final hole to slip into a tie for the lead Saturday with Tim Petrovic in the Senior PGA Championship.

They were at 13 under par after Petrovic, seeking his first major, shot 65. McCarron has shared the lead through three rounds.

England's Paul Broadhurst, the 2016 British Senior Open winner, matched the best third-round score in tournament history with a 64. He was at 11 under.

Miguel Angel Jimenez, coming off his first major championship last week at the Regions Tradition, shot 65 and was 9 under.

Tom Byrum, who made a hole-in-one in shooting a 67, was in a group at 8 under.

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Watch: Rose one-arms approach, makes birdie

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 26, 2018, 7:25 pm

Justin Rose appears to have taken a course in Hideki Matsuyama-ing.

Already 3 under on his round through five thanks to a birdie-birdie-birdie start, Rose played this approach from 143 yards at the par-4 sixth.

That one-armed approach set up a 6-foot birdie putt he rolled in to move to 4 under on his round and 14 under for the week, five clear of the field.

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McIlroy battles back into tie for BMW PGA lead

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 26, 2018, 4:09 pm

Rory McIlroy got off to a rocky start on Saturday in the third round of the BMW PGA Championship, including hitting a spectator and making a double bogey. But after that incident on the sixth hole, he didn't drop another shot, birdieing the final hole to shoot a 1-under 71 and tie for the lead.

McIlroy had gone into Moving Day with a three-shot lead, but Francesco Molinari had the round of the day, a 6-under 66. "It was nice keep a clean scorecard," said Molinari, who hasn't made a bogey since the 10th hole on Friday.


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McIlroy and Molinari will be paired in Sunday's final round. They are tied at 13 under par, four shots clear of Ross Fisher, Branden Grace, Sam Horsfield and Alexander Noren.

The Wentworth course ends with back-to-back par-5s, and McIlroy birdied both of them. He got a break on the 18th hole as his drive hit a spectator and bounced into light rough.

"It was a struggle out there today," McIlroy said. "I think when you're working on a few things in your swing and the wind is up and you're stuck between trying to play different shots, but also try to play - you know, make good swings at it, I just hit some loose tee balls on the first few holes. But I'm proud of myself. I stayed patient. I actually - I'm feeling a bit better about myself after today than I was even walking off the course yesterday."

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Watch: McIlroy hits spectator on hand

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 26, 2018, 2:58 pm

We never cease to wonder at how close fans crowd in to the intended line of some shots, and just how skilled Tour players are in not hitting someone.

But every once in a while, golf ball and spectator intersect, with painful results. It happened to Rory McIlroy during the third round of the BMW PGA Championship, after he had hit a wayward drive on the sixth hole. Attempting to hack out his second shot from under a bush, McIlroy struck a female spectator on her right hand. There was no official word on her condition, but she was clearly - and understandably - in pain.

McIlroy went on to make double bogey but was able to put the incident behind him, as he promptly birdied the next hole.