McIlroy starting to expect to win each week

By Randall MellSeptember 10, 2012, 12:46 am

CARMEL, Ind. – This ought to be getting scary for Rory McIlroy’s competition.

The kid, as Tiger Woods calls him, is beginning to make winning look easy.

He’s beginning to feel like winning is “normal,” almost inevitable.

While his overall body of work pales in comparison to Woods' monumental achievements, McIlroy is beginning to win the way Woods did.

With a 5-under-par 67 Sunday at the BMW Championship, McIlroy claimed back-to-back FedEx Cup playoff titles, becoming the first player since Tiger Woods in 2009 to win in back-to-back weeks on the PGA Tour. With McIlroy's PGA Championship title in August, that’s three victories in his last four starts.

Sunday’s triumph puts McIlroy in a class with Woods and Jack Nicklaus as the only players to win six PGA Tour titles by 23.

“He’s pretty awesome, isn’t he?” Robert Garrigus said after making four consecutive birdies on the back nine Sunday and still failing to catch McIlroy. “You make putts like that, and hit it as straight as he does, and have a good short game, it’s kind of what Tiger was doing back in the day.

“Rory is everything you want in a golfer. I don’t know if he’s going to get to quite what Tiger did in his career, but he’s pretty darned close.”

With the victory, McIlroy pretty much locks up PGA Tour Player of the Year honors. Even if Woods wins the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup, McIlroy’s major championship win should trump Woods.

McIlroy will head to East Lake in Atlanta for the playoffs’ finale as the FedEx Cup points leader in the re-set for the event. Woods will be second.

A terrific Sunday at Crooked Stick, with so many big names jammed at the top of the leaderboard, ended with McIlroy winning comfortably. Tied for the lead walking on to the 10th green, McIlroy took a three-shot lead to the 18th tee. He bogeyed the last hole and still beat Phil Mickelson (70) and Lee Westwood (69) by two and Woods (68) and Garrigus (69) by three.

McIlroy was asked if his run gives him an appreciation for what Woods did when he was dominating.

“I think I’ve always had an appreciation for what Tiger did over the years, winning seven, eight, nine times in a season,” McIlroy said. “It’s the more you put yourself in this position, and the more you win, and the more you pick up trophies, it becomes normal. It feels like what you’re supposed to do. I’m sure that’s how he felt when he was on that run and how he still feels.

“I don’t think I’m quite there yet, but I’m getting to that stage, where I’m thinking this is what I should be doing. I should be lifting a trophy at the end of the week.”

That’s the sentiment, the growing self belief, that ought to alarm McIlroy’s competition.

McIlroy is 40 under par in these last two playoff victories. He has posted eight consecutive rounds in the 60s.

His cumulative scoring average in his PGA Championship, Deutsche Bank and BMW victories is 67.5.

“The last four or five weeks have been incredible, some of the best golf that I’ve ever played,” McIlroy said.

McIlroy, 23, isn’t just winning now. He’s winning the biggest events. He’s beating the best and deepest fields. That’s a major and two playoff titles in this run.

Woods is noting McIlroy’s ability to close.

“He’s going out there and is up near the lead and posts a good number,” Woods said. “He’s doing the things he needs to do, and he’s feeling very confident about his game.”

In a year where PGA Tour pros have reminded us just how difficult it is to close with so many final-round collapses, McIlroy is becoming the game’s fiercest closer. Nobody looks more comfortable now on the back nine on Sunday with a chance to win. McIlroy showed that after Westwood birdied the 13th hole Sunday to tie McIlroy for the lead.

McIlroy’s sharpening short game helped him seize back control.

At the 14th, McIlroy missed the green but got up and down to save par. Westwood couldn’t do the same.

“I thought that was the pivotal point,” McIlroy said.

That’s where McIlroy finished off Westwood and everyone else. He birdied the 15th and 16th to stretch his lead to three.

“I sort of picked up where I left off in Boston,” McIlroy said. “Just playing with a lot of confidence right now. I’m confident in my ability, confident with the shots I’m hitting and confident on the greens. It’s a nice run to be on, and I want to try to keep it going for as long as possible.”

There’s intrigue wondering just how long that might be.

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Bend it like Garcia? Sergio scores in player-caddie soccer match

By Grill Room TeamOctober 20, 2018, 2:44 am

Sergio Garcia has always been able to work his golf ball from left to right, but he's also - apparently - proficient at playing a draw with a soccer ball.

This year's Adalucia Valderrama Masters is suffering through some weather issues. But the highlight of the week - and, according to the Felipe Aguilar, "the year" - was always going to be the event's player-caddie soccer match, which you can see here:

The standout highlight? This bending, left-footed(!) strike from defending champion Sergio Garcia:

"Just a little bit of fun with the caddies and some of the players," Garcia nonchalantly says in the video. "Yeah, just a little bit of running and it was good fun."

Garcia, a diehard Real Madrid fan who kicked off El Clasico in his green jacket back in 2016, has previously appeared in professional matches for CF Borriol, a Tercera Division club in Spain. 

"It's good fun and whenever I'm around I get to practice with them a little bit and play a little bit here and there. This season, I've played probably five games, so not a lot, but I enjoy it," Garcia told CNN back in 2013.

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Dunlap, in 'excruciating pain,' shares early Dominion lead

By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 10:29 pm

RICHMOND, Va. – Scott Dunlap and Fran Quinn shot 5-under 67 on Friday to share the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' playoff-opening Dominion Energy Charity Classic.

Fighting a left wrist injury that will require surgery, Dunlap matched Quinn with a closing birdie on the par-5 18th on The Country Club of Virginia's James River Course.

''Maybe excruciating pain is the key to playing good golf because I'm not getting nervous on a shot, you're just trying to get through it,'' Dunlap said. ''The worst parts are gripping it and getting the club started ... that's when that bone hits that bone.''

The top 72 players qualified for the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs opener. The top 54 on Sunday will get spots next week in the Invesco QQQ Championship in Thousand Oaks, Calif., and the top 36 after that will advance to the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Phoenix.

Full-field scores from the Dominion Energy Charity Classic

The 55-year-old Dunlap entered the week 29th in the standings. Playing through the wrist injury, he's coming off ties for ninth and seventh in his last two starts.

''I think I finally taped it the right way,'' Dunlap said. ''Or maybe it's the pain meds kicking in. I don't know, one of the two.''

Quinn is 64th in the standings.

''I finished up strong last year, too, kind of secured my privileges for the following year making eagle on 18,'' Quinn said. ''I played solid all day. I had a lot of opportunities. A couple hiccups.''

Jay Haas was a stroke back with Kent Jones, Stephen Ames, Woody Austin and Tim Petrovic. The 64-year-old Haas won the last of his 18 senior titles in 2016.

Vijay Singh and Miguel Angel Jimenez, second in the standings, were at 69 with Joey Sindelar, Tom Gillis, Billy MayfairLee Janzen, Glen Day and Gene Sauers.

Defending champion Bernhard Langer opened with a 70. The 61-year-old German star won the SAS Championship last week in North Carolina to take the points lead. He has two victories this year and 38 overall on the 50-and-over tour.

Defending Charles Schwab Cup champion Kevin Sutherland had a 71. He's 14th in the standings. No. 3 Jerry Kelly shot 72. No. 4 Scott McCarron, the 2016 tournament winner, had a 74.

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Weather continues to plague Valderrama Masters

By Associated PressOctober 19, 2018, 7:55 pm

SOTOGRANDE, Spain  -- Marc Warren helped his chances of retaining his European Tour card by moving into a tie for second place behind Englishman Ashley Chesters at the rain-hit Andalucia Valderrama Masters on Friday.

Bad weather interrupted play for a second straight day at the Real Club Valderrama in southern Spain before darkness caused the second round to be suspended until Saturday, with overnight Chesters still ahead at 5-under.

Weather delays on Thursday, including a threat of lightning, had kept 60 golfers from finishing their opening round. They included Scottish player Warren, who went out on Friday and finished his first round with a 2-under 69.

He then made three birdies to go with one bogey on the first nine holes of the second round before play was halted. He joined Frenchman Gregory Bourdy one shot behind Chesters.

Full-field scores from the Andalucia Valderrama Masters

''I'm hitting the ball as well as I have in a long time,'' Warren said. ''Hitting fairways and greens is the most important thing around here, so hopefully I wake up tomorrow with the same swing.''

Chesters and Bourdy were among several golfers unable to play a single hole in the second round on Friday.

Warren, a three-time European Tour winner, has struggled this season and needs a strong performance to keep his playing privileges for next year.

Currently ranked 144th, Warren needs to break into the top 116 to keep his card.

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Watch: Is this the up-and-down of the year?

By Golf Channel DigitalOctober 19, 2018, 3:30 pm

Play away from the pin? Just because there's a tree in your way? Not Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano. Watch him channel some Arnie (or, more appropriately, some Seve) with this shot in the Valderrama Masters: