Time traveler: Recounting McIlroy's time-zone misadventure in '12 Ryder Cup

By Jason SobelSeptember 20, 2014, 1:05 pm

10:54 a.m. CT

There have already been a few missed calls to his phone on this morning of Sept. 30, 2012, but Rory McIlroy doesn’t think much of them until the knock on the door.

Already preparing for a Ryder Cup tee time that he believes is an hour and a half away, he is neither ruffled nor rushed. His mindset, he says later, is wholly on winning a full point against Keegan Bradley and helping Europe climb out of the 10-6 hole it had dug over the first two days.

On Saturday afternoon, he had been reduced to merely a dazzled onlooker as teammate Ian Poulter birdied the final five holes to win their fourballs match. Before leaving the course a little while afterward, he checked his Sunday tee time: 12:25 p.m., it read. Plenty of time to sleep in before he needed to get to Medinah Country Club.

Until that knock on the door.

“It's one of the girls from the European Tour,” he recalls two years later. “They're like, ‘You need to go. You're going to miss your tee time.’ I was panicked.  I was sort of half-dressed. I was just getting ready. They're like, ‘Look, we'll take care of everything else. We'll take your suit for the closing ceremony. We'll get all that stuff sorted. But there's a police car waiting for you downstairs. You need to get in that and go.’”


Photos: 2012 Ryder Cup final day


That 12:25 p.m. tee time? It was listed in Eastern Time. But Chicago, of course, is located in the Central Time Zone. He has about 30 minutes to make his tee time.

10:58 a.m. CT

Fully dressed and fully panicked, McIlroy walks out of the lobby of his hotel and directly into the squad car of Chicago Police officer Pat Rollins.

Had he wanted to, had he chosen the route of American hero and rationalized that the department motto of “We Serve and Protect” didn’t apply to Europeans who were late for their Ryder Cup tee times, Rollins could have elected to let McIlroy fend for himself. Chances are, with traffic, he never would have made it.

Instead, Rollins welcomes the golfer into his squad car and blares the sirens. The usual 25-minute trip to Medinah takes only 15.

“I would have done the same thing for an American player,” the officer would later say. “We were their hosts; they stayed in our community. The Ryder Cup was to be played on the course, not on the road.”

11:13 a.m. CT

By now an incident of international proportions, cameras are rolling as McIlroy makes his long-awaited and much-curious arrival at the golf course.

He quickly thanks Rollins and begins thinking about the match – the match for which he had all morning to prepare and is now racing toward without any preparation.

“Once I got there and knew I was going to make it,” he explains, “I was just saying, ‘Let's try and keep it together for the first six holes, like keep it to all square or even just 1 down or something, but just try to keep it tight for the first six.’”

11:15 a.m. CT

Any casual golfer who has rushed from work to catch a quick nine holes before dark can sympathize with what happened next.

Ten minutes before one of the biggest tee times in his life, McIlroy is furiously changing his shoes in the locker room.

11:19 a.m. CT

Now six minutes before that time, he hits a few chips and rolls a few putts on the practice green.

“I tried to hit a couple of chips and a couple of putts to sort of calm myself down,” he says. “Didn't work.”

No time to hit any full shots on the driving range, no time to check out the pin sheet, no time to strategize his way around the course.

11:23 a.m. CT

After the most whirlwind half-hour of his life, McIlroy arrives at the first tee. His opponent, Bradley, asks if everything is all right, but McIlroy can barely hear him over the partisan crowd.

Word had gotten out. The story had been told. McIlroy’s explanation for showing up late is already making international headlines by the time he reaches this point.

The massive galleries surrounding Medinah’s first tee know all about it. And so when he finally, at the last minute, shows up with a sheepish smile in between huffs of relieved sighs, they serenade him with an appropriate chant.

“CENTRAL TIME ZONE!!! CENTRAL TIME ZONE!!! CENTRAL TIME ZONE!!!”

11:25 a.m. CT

With his first full swing since Saturday afternoon’s fourballs match, McIlroy misses the fairway to the right.

Not optimal, but all things considered, it’s not awful, either.

11:36 a.m. CT

After missing the green, McIlroy nearly chips in for birdie.

His par is conceded and when Bradley matches that score, all the frayed nerves and anxiety of the morning begin to fade.

12:41 p.m. CT

Focusing on just keeping it close for the first six holes, McIlroy does much better.

A birdie on the sixth puts him 2 up early on – and more importantly, it keeps him from further embarrassment.

“After that, I was calmed down,” he recalls. “Able to get into some sort of rhythm. Then I was like, ‘Well, this is actually OK.’”

3:19 p.m. CT

Unpredictably, unexpectedly, McIlroy never trails in the match.

When Bradley misses his birdie attempt on the 17th hole, it’s over. The match is a 2-and-1 victory for McIlroy, one of five full points for Europe in the first five matches.

3:20 p.m. CT

Finally able to breathe a sigh of relief, McIlroy takes a bow.

“It was the best golf I played of the whole week,” he says now. “I shot 65 or 66. I was 6 under par for the match. I beat Keegan, who was arguably one of the best players for the U.S. team that week.”

He has not only absolved himself of infinite boneheadedness in sporting lore, he has helped put his team in position for an improbable comeback.

8:37 p.m. CT

Nearly 10 hours after McIlroy rushed from his hotel room to a patrol car to the course to the first tee, he attends a news conference with his victorious teammates, attempting to explain exactly what happened.

Some of them laugh. A few mutter well-intentioned needling under their breath. The team’s captain, Jose Maria Olazabal, just shakes his head in disbelief.

“In a way, it wasn't a bad thing because I didn't have time to think about it,” McIlroy says. “I still would have liked to have gotten here sooner, but I delivered my point for the team, and that was the most important thing.

“I was like, ‘Just get me there, get me there.’”

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Weather extends Barbasol to Monday finish

By Associated PressJuly 23, 2018, 12:25 am

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - A thunderstorm has suspended the fourth round of the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship until Monday morning.

Sunday's third stoppage of play at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came with the four leaders - Hunter Mahan, Robert Streb, Tom Lovelady and Troy Merritt at 18 under par - and four other contenders waiting to begin the round.

The tournament will resume at 7:30 a.m. on Monday. Lightning caused one delay, and play was stopped earlier in the afternoon to clear water that accumulated on the course following a morning of steady and sometimes-heavy rain.

Inclement weather has plagued the tournament throughout the weekend. The second round was completed Saturday morning after being suspended by thunderstorms late Friday afternoon.

The resumption will mark the PGA Tour's second Monday finish this season. Jason Day won the Farmers Insurance Open in January after darkness delayed the sixth playoff hole, and he needed just 13 minutes to claim the victory.

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Watch: Spectator films as Woods' shot hits him

By Will GrayJuly 23, 2018, 12:07 am

It was a collision watched by millions of fans on television, and one that came at a pivotal juncture as Tiger Woods sought to win The Open. It also gave Colin Hauck the story of a lifetime.

Hauck was among dozens of fans situated along the left side of the 11th hole during the final round at Carnoustie as the pairing of Woods and Francesco Molinari hit their approach shots. After 10 holes of nearly flawless golf, Woods missed the fairway off the tee and then pulled his iron well left of the target.

The ball made square contact with Hauck, who hours later tweeted a video showing the entire sequence - even as he continued to record after Woods' shot sent him tumbling to the ground:

The bounce initially appeared fortuitous for Woods, as his ball bounded away from thicker rough and back toward the green. But an ambitious flop shot came up short, and he eventually made a double bogey to go from leading by a shot to trailing by one. He ultimately shot an even-par 71, tying for sixth two shots behind Molinari.

For his efforts as a human shield, Hauck received a signed glove and a handshake from Woods - not to mention a firsthand video account that will be sure to spark plenty of conversations in the coming years.

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Molinari retirement plan: coffee, books and Twitter

By Will GrayJuly 22, 2018, 9:35 pm

After breaking through for his first career major, Francesco Molinari now has a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour, a 10-year exemption in Europe and has solidified his standing as one of the best players in the world.

But not too long ago, the 35-year-old Italian was apparently thinking about life after golf.

Shortly after Molinari rolled in a final birdie putt to close out a two-shot victory at The Open, fellow Tour player Wesley Bryan tweeted a picture of a note that he wrote after the two played together during the third round of the WGC-HSBC Champions in China in October. In it, Bryan shared Molinari's plans to retire as early as 2020 to hang out at cafes and "become a Twitter troll":

Molinari is active on the social media platform, with more than 5,600 tweets sent out to nearly 150,000 followers since joining in 2010. But after lifting the claret jug at Carnoustie, it appears one of the few downsides of Molinari's victory is that the golf world won't get to see the veteran turn into a caffeinated, well-read troll anytime soon.

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Molinari had previously avoided Carnoustie on purpose

By Rex HoggardJuly 22, 2018, 9:17 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Sometimes a course just fits a player’s eye. They can’t really describe why, but more often than not it leads to solid finishes.

Francesco Molinari’s relationship with Carnoustie isn’t like that.

The Italian played his first major at Carnoustie, widely considered the toughest of all The Open venues, in 2007, and his first impression hasn’t really changed.

“There was nothing comforting about it,” he said on Sunday following a final-round 69 that lifted him to a two-stroke victory.


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In fact, following that first exposure to the Angus coast brute, Molinari has tried to avoid Carnoustie, largely skipping the Dunhill Links Championship, one of the European Tour’s marquee events, throughout his career.

“To be completely honest, it's one of the reasons why I didn't play the Dunhill Links in the last few years, because I got beaten up around here a few times in the past,” he said. “I didn't particularly enjoy that feeling. It's a really tough course. You can try and play smart golf, but some shots, you just have to hit it straight. There's no way around it. You can't really hide.”

Molinari’s relative dislike for the layout makes his performance this week even more impressive considering he played his last 37 holes bogey-free.

“To play the weekend bogey-free, it's unthinkable, to be honest. So very proud of today,” he said.