Roaring Into Town

By Jay CoffinJuly 12, 2011, 5:34 pm

SANDWICH, England – Rory McIlroy and his father, Gerry, went to venerable Royal County Down Monday evening to catch up and spend a little time together. They did the same thing a year ago before heading to St. Andrews for the Open Championship.

Rory played nine holes while Gerry simply walked around with his son. They had the place to themselves. Just call it the calm before the storm.

McIlroy turned up Tuesday afternoon at Royal St. George’s for his first mass gathering with the media since that historic day three weeks ago at the U.S. Open, where he dominated the field, slayed his Masters’ demons and walked off with an eight-shot victory heard ‘round the world that sent the game into a collective tizzy.

“It’s nice to be the center of attention,” McIlroy said.

Good thing. Since we last saw McIlroy at Congressional, he’s been in the Royal Box at Wimbledon, seemingly every member of his Holywood hometown has been interviewed by some media outlet and those in the “know” have pronounced him the heir apparent to Tiger Woods.

Heck, so many people now love the 22-year-old slugger that there are reports that two separate bets of 20,000 pounds (about $32,000) have been placed on McIlroy to win this championship. About that report he was asked, “Is this the act of very shrewd punters or of desperate men?”

McIlroy said: “I’ll go with the first option.” He then gave a little smirk.

“I’ve already sort of noticed over the past three weeks it has been a bit of a life-changing experience,” McIlroy said. “It’s just something I’m going to have to deal with.”

Life-changing? You bet. But somehow Rory has, well, just continued to be Rory. He’s still the same dude with the same syrupy swing that handles everything well that life throws at him.

After the craziness of the first 10 days post-Congressional, McIlroy has tried to get back into his normal routine of preparation for major championships. He showed up here at Royal St. George’s early last week to get the lay of the land, then polished up some at the new practice facility he built at his home outside Belfast and has played several rounds at Royal County Down.

“It was nice to relax and sort of take it all in after the U.S. Open,” McIlroy said. “But I knew that the time for reflection wasn’t really at this point of the season, it’s at the end. I’ve got to forget about what happened three weeks ago and just come in here and try to win another golf tournament.”

Sure, the last three weeks have been surreal for McIlroy, but now is where the road can tend to become difficult. With the attention and the success come high expectations.

Although many have foreshadowed multiple majors for McIlroy he insists that no one has higher expectations than the ones he has for himself. Still, winning the U.S. Open when many weren’t picking him to contend is vastly different than performing at a high standard when you’re expected to deliver the goods.

“Obviously Rory is on the forefront of a lot of people’s minds, and rightly so,” Luke Donald said. “He was impressive in the U.S. Open and winning majors is a big deal and he did it in great fashion. I’m sure a lot of the attention is on him and maybe a little bit more of the pressure as well.”

If McIlroy deals with this pressure like he’s dealt with all the previous pressures, he’ll manage it just fine. Remember, this is someone who has held the lead in each of the past four majors, had a meltdown of epic proportions at Augusta National and has handled them all with more grace than men twice his age.

“I’ve basically learned most of the lessons that I needed to learn to get me over the line, especially in a major championship,” McIlroy said. “Now that I’ve done that, I feel as if I’ll be able to go on and contend a lot more.”

So, it seems Gerry McIlroy is going to have to get used to being in the limelight that comes with being Rory’s dad. Last week at Holywood Golf Club he admitted that he is so uncomfortable being in the spotlight that he hesitated jumping inside the ropes Sunday at the U.S. Open to embrace his boy. This wasn’t Gerry’s moment he says, this was Rory’s moment and he didn’t want to intrude.

At the rate Rory is going, the only time Gerry will go unnoticed on a golf course will be at Royal County Down once a year when he and Rory play nine holes before the Open Championship.

Although now, even that secret no longer is safe.

Getty Images

Lewis hopes to win at Volvik with baby on the way

By Randall MellMay 27, 2018, 12:55 am

Stacy Lewis was listening to more than her caddie on her march up the leaderboard Saturday at the Volvik Championship.

Pregnant with her first child, she is listening to her body in a new way these days.

And she could hear a message coming through loud and clear toward the end of her round at Travis Point Country Club in Ann Arbor, Mich.

“The little one was telling me it’s dinnertime,” Lewis said.

Lewis birdied five of the last six holes to shoot 5-under-par 67 and move into position to make a Sunday run at winning her 13th LPGA title. She is two shots behind the leader, Minjee Lee, whose 68 moved her to 12 under overall.

Sunday has the makings of a free for all with 10 players within three shots of the lead.


Full-field scores from the LPGA Volvik Championship


Lewis, 33, is four months pregnant, with her due date Nov. 3. She’s expecting to play just a few more times before putting the clubs away to get ready for the birth. She said she’s likely to make the Marathon Classic in mid-July her last start of the season before returning next year.

Of course, Lewis would relish winning with child.

“I don’t care what limitations I have or what is going on with my body, I want to give myself a chance to win,” she told LPGA.com at the Kingsmill Championship last week.

Lewis claimed an emotional victory with her last title, taking the Cambia Portland Classic late last summer after announcing earlier in the week that she would donate her entire winnings to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in her Houston hometown.

A victory Sunday would also come with a lot of emotion.

It’s been an interesting year for Lewis.

There’s been the joy of learning she’s ready to begin the family she has been yearning for, and the struggle to play well after bouncing back from injury.

Lewis missed three cuts in a row before making it into the weekend at the Kingsmill Championship last week. That’s one more cut than she missed cumulatively in the previous six years. In six starts this year, Lewis hasn’t finished among the top 50 yet, but she hasn’t felt right, either.

The former world No. 1 didn’t make her second start of 2018 until April, at the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration. She withdrew from the HSBC Women’s World Championship in late February with a strained right oblique muscle and didn’t play again for a month.

Still, Lewis is finding plenty to get excited about with the baby on the way.

“I kind of had my first Mother’s Day,” Lewis told LPGA.com last week. “It puts golf into perspective. It makes those bad days not seem so bad. It helps me sleep better at night. We are just really excited.”

Getty Images

Rose hasn't visited restroom at Colonial - here's why

By Nick MentaMay 27, 2018, 12:20 am

In case you're unaware, it's pretty hot in Texas.

Temperatures at Colonial Country Club have approached 100 degrees this week, leaving players to battle both the golf course and potential dehydration.

With the help of his caddie Mark Fulcher, Fort Worth Invitational leader Justin Rose has been plenty hot himself, staking himself to a four-shot lead.


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


"Yeah, Fulch has done a great job of just literally handing me water bottle after water bottle. It seems relentless, to be honest with you," Rose said Saturday.

So just how much are players sweating the heat at Colonial? Well, it doesn't sound like all that water is making it all the way through Rose.

"I haven't even seen the inside of a restroom yet, so you can't even drink quick enough out there," he shared.

Getty Images

Up four, Rose knows a lead can slip away

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 11:21 pm

Up four shots heading into Sunday at the Fort Worth Invitational, Justin Rose has tied the largest 54-hole lead of his PGA Tour career.

On the previous two occasions he took a 54-hole Tour lead into the final round, he closed.

And yet, Rose knows just how quickly a lead can slip away. After all, it was Rose who erased a six-shot deficit earlier this season to overtake Dustin Johnson and win the WGC-HSBC Championship. 

"I think I was in the lead going into the final round in Turkey when I won, and I had a four-shot lead going into the final round in Indonesia in December and managed to put that one away," Rose said Saturday, thinking back to his two other victories late last year.

"I was five, six back maybe of DJ, so I've got experience the other way. ... So you can see how things can go both ways real quick. That's why there is no point in getting too far ahead of myself."


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


Up one to start the third round Saturday, Rose extended his lead to as much as five when he birdied four of his first six holes.

He leads the field in strokes gained: tee-to-green (+12.853) and strokes gained: approach-the-green (+7.931).

Rose has won five times worldwide, including at the 2016 Rio Olympics, since his last victory in the United States, at the 2015 Zurich Classic.

With a win Sunday, he'd tie Nick Faldo for the most PGA Tour wins by an Englishman post-World War II, with nine.

But he isn't celebrating just yet.

"It is a big lead, but it's not big enough to be counting the holes away. You've got to go out and play good, you've got to go out positive, you've got to continue to make birdies and keep going forward.

"So my mindset is to not really focus on the lead, it's to focus on my game tomorrow and my performance. You know, just keep executing the way I have been. That's going to be my challenge tomorrow. Going to look forward to that mindset."

Getty Images

Grillo still hunting follow-up to debut win

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 10:53 pm

Following a round of 1-under 69 Saturday, Emiliano Grillo will enter Sunday's final round at Colonial four shots behind leader Justin Rose.

Grillo is hunting his first win since he took the 2015 Safeway Open in his rookie debut as a PGA Tour member. 

The young Argentinian finished 11th in the FedExCup points race that season, contending in big events and finishing runner-up at the 2016 Barclays.

In the process, Grillo had to learn to pace himself and that it can be fruitless to chase after success week to week.

"That was a hot run in there," Grillo said Saturday, referring to his rookie year. "I played, in 2016, I played the majors very well. I played the big tournaments very well. I was in contention after two, three days in most of the big events.


Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos


"I think, you know, I wanted to do better. I pushed for it. Some of the tournaments I ended up being 50th or 60th just because I wanted to play. I wanted to play well so badly. That played against me, so I learned from that. In that rookie year, I learned that."

Grillo was still plenty successful in his sophomore season, advancing to the BMW Championship last fall.

But now he's beginning to regain some of that form that made him such an immediate success on Tour. Grillo has recorded four top-10 finishes year - a T-9 at Mayakoba, a T-8 at Honda, a T-3 at Houston, and a T-9 at Wells Fargo - and will now look to outduel U.S. Open champs in Rose and Brooks Koepka on Sunday at Colonial.

"Well, he's top 10 in the world, so everything he does he does it pretty well," Grillo said of Rose. "You know, he does his own thing. Like I say, he's top 10 in the world. Nothing wrong with his game. ...

"He's in the lead on a Sunday. Doesn't matter where you're playing, he's got to go out and shoot under par. He's got 50 guys behind him trying to reach him, and I'm one of those. I've just got to go out and do what he did today on those first five or six holes and try to get him in the early holes."