McIlroy enjoying challenge of cracking Sawgrass code

By Randall MellMay 9, 2015, 12:21 am

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Rory McIlroy moves into the weekend closer to “cracking the code.”

That’s what the world No. 1 called the challenge The Players Championship presents him.

The TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course isn’t the kind of test you imagine playing to McIlroy’s strengths, not with the claustrophobic confines limiting his power and the use of his favorite club, his Thor’s hammer. As much as McIlroy loves to hit driver, he has learned to mostly leave it in his bag making his way around with a game plan more conservative than he’s accustomed.

That’s the challenge that would make a victory this weekend extra meaningful to him.

Winning on a course like this would add to McIlroy’s already impressive golf pedigree.

It would say something about the breadth of his skill, smarts and temperament.

“I feel like it would make me a more complete player,” McIlroy said on the eve of this championship.

With a 1-under-par 71 Friday, McIlroy moves into the weekend tied for 13th, four shots off the lead.

“A lot can happen, and I feel like I’m in a decent position,” McIlroy said.

So much for the sentiment that architect Pete Dye’s design leveled the field for world No. 2 Jordan Spieth in his pairing with McIlroy through the first two rounds. McIlroy enters the weekend in contention while Spieth is going home after missing the cut.

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Listening to McIlroy and Spieth talk about the Stadium Course earlier this week, it was easy to conclude that the design favored Spieth, because it appeared to take away McIlroy’s biggest advantage, his power. It was easy to ignore McIlroy’s assertion that he likes this golf course and relishes the challenge to “win a different way.” He meant it, though. You see it in how he’s dissecting Dye’s design.

“I’ve always enjoyed this golf course, but it has taken me awhile to learn to play it,” McIlroy said. “You’ve just got to do everything well.”

Therein lies the bonus for McIlroy winning here, knowing he did the extra work to “crack the code,” that he pulled on a deep well of diverse talents.

“A little bit like Wentworth last year, where that's a golf course I had always struggled on, but I found a way to get it done,” McIlroy said of his victory at the European Tour’s BMW PGA Championship.

McIlroy got himself within two shots of the lead late Friday at The Players before a stumble coming home. He tried to reach the 16th green with a big cut from the rough but overcooked it, carving his shot in the water. He made bogey.

“I limited the damage, only made a bogey,” McIlroy said. “That's what you sort of have to do around this course, just keep the mistakes to a minimum and pick off your birdies where you can.”

And play conservatively, he said, even when Dye tempts you to attack.

“I was pretty bored out there,” McIlroy said. “I'm not sure how you guys felt about watching it. Just try and hit fairways, hit greens, pick off my birdies when I could.”

That’s what McIlroy calls cracking the code.

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Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 10:15 am

Following an even-par 71 in the first round of the 147th Open Championship, Tiger Woods looks to make a move on Day 2 at Carnoustie.

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McIlroy responds to Harmon's 'robot' criticism

By Mercer BaggsJuly 20, 2018, 6:53 am

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy said during his pre-championship news conference that he wanted to play more "carefree" – citing Jon Rahm’s approach now and the way McIlroy played in his younger days.

McIlroy got off to a good start Thursday at Carnoustie, shooting 2-under 69, good for a share of eighth place.

But while McIlroy admits to wanting to be a little less structured on the course, he took offense to comments made by swing coach Butch Harmon during a Sky Sports telecast.

Said Harmon:

“Rory had this spell when he wasn’t putting good and hitting the ball good, and he got so wrapped up in how he was going to do it he forgot how to do it.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“He is one of the best players the game has ever seen. If he would just go back to being a kid and playing the way he won these championships and play your game, don’t have any fear or robotic thoughts. Just play golf. Just go do it.

“This is a young kid who’s still one of the best players in the world. He needs to understand that. Forget about your brand and your endorsement contracts. Forget about all that. Just go back to having fun playing golf. I still think he is one of the best in the world and can be No.1 again if he just lets himself do it.”

McIlroy, who has never worked with Harmon, responded to the comments when asked about them following his opening round.

“Look, I like Butch. Definitely, I would say I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum than someone that's mechanical and someone that's – you know, it's easy to make comments when you don't know what's happening,” McIlroy said. “I haven't spoken to Butch in a long time. He doesn't know what I'm working on in my swing. He doesn't know what's in my head. So it's easy to make comments and easy to speculate. But unless you actually know what's happening, I just really don't take any notice of it.”

McIlroy second round at The Open began at 2:52 a.m. ET.

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How The Open cut line is determined

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 5:57 am

Scores on Day 1 of the 147th Open Championship ranged from 5-under 66 to 11-over 82.

The field of 156 players will be cut nearly in half for weekend play at Carnoustie. Here’s how the cut line works in the season’s third major championship:

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

• After 36 holes, the low 70 players and ties will advance to compete in the final two rounds. Anyone finishing worse than that will get the boot. Only those making the cut earn official money from the $10.5 million purse.

• There is no 10-shot rule. That rule means anyone within 10 shots of the lead after two rounds, regardless of where they stand in the championship, make the cut. It’s just a flat top 70 finishers and ties.

• There is only a single cut at The Open. PGA Tour events employ an MDF (Made cut Did not Finish) rule, which narrows the field after the third round if more than 78 players make the cut. That is not used at this major.

The projected cut line after the first round this week was 1 over par, which included 71 players tied for 50th or better.

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How to watch The Open on TV and online

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 5:30 am

You want to watch the 147th Open? Here’s how you can do it.

Golf Channel and NBC Sports will be televising 182 hours of overall programming from the men's third major of the year at Carnoustie

In addition to the traditional coverage, the two networks will showcase three live alternate feeds: marquee groups, featured holes (our new 3-hole channel) and spotlight action. You can also watch replays of full-day coverage, Thursday-Sunday, in the Golf Channel app, NBC Sports apps, and on  

Here’s the weekly TV schedule, with live stream links in parentheses. You can view all the action on the Golf Channel mobile, as well. Alternate coverage is noted in italics:

(All times Eastern; GC=Golf Channel; NBC=NBC Sports; or check the GLE app)

Monday, July 16

GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (

GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (

GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (

Tuesday, July 17

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (

Wednesday, July 18

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (

Thursday, July 19

GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (

GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM ( Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (

Friday, July 20

GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM ( Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM ( Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (

Saturday, July 21

GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (

NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM ( Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (

Sunday, July 22

GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (

NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM ( Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM ( Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM ( Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (

GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (