Straight man: McIlroy likely to limit driver

By Randall MellSeptember 3, 2014, 7:59 pm

CHERRY HILLS VILLAGE, Colo. – Rory McIlroy’s swing is in such powerful rhythm, it can now put more than angst into the heads of fellow players.

It can put a song there.

Just ask Erik Compton.

You can be the greatest, you can be the best.

You can move a mountain, you can break rocks.

You can be a master, don’t wait for luck.

Dedicate yourself, and you can find yourself ...

Standing in the Hall of Fame.

And the world’s gonna know your name.

Compton found himself walking through the Cherry Hills Country Club locker room late Tuesday afternoon humming the song that is the theme to McIlroy’s new Omega watch commercials. Compton was fresh off the course after playing a practice round with McIlroy in preparation for the BMW Championship.

The “Hall of Fame” song fit the whole idea behind the practice round.

Compton played a practice round with Tiger Woods back in 2000 at the Memorial, back when Woods was at his best. Compton, 34, wanted to see McIlroy, 25, at his best, to see what he could learn, just like he did playing with Woods. So, he arranged for them to play together.

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“What I saw today was very comparable to what I saw playing with Tiger in 2000, except Rory has more power,” Compton said. “Rory is a lot longer than Tiger ever was. The biggest difference is Rory hits his driver better. I have never seen anybody with that kind of power and control, period.”

The altitude at Cherry Hills makes McIlroy even longer. Playing at 5,380 feet, McIlroy’s tee shots seem to be flying even farther than the 10 percent extra this elevation usually gives players.

Compton said McIlroy blasted 400-yard drives at the second and fifth holes in their practice round.

McIlroy said he hit a 3-wood 370 yards in Wednesday’s pro-am.

“The ball is going forever,” McIlroy said. “It really is. Obviously, the altitude, and then it heated up for us on the back nine, as well. Because of my high ball flight, it's going a good 15 percent farther than it usually does.”

McIlroy tees it up this week looking to move to No. 1 in FedEx Cup points going to the Tour Championship in Atlanta next week. He’s No. 2 behind Chris Kirk and aiming to put himself in the best position possible to win the big prize that eluded him two years ago, when he won back-to-back FedEx Cup playoff events going to the Tour Championship but watched Brandt Snedeker win in Atlanta to take the $10 million jackpot.

“I feel like it's been such a great year on the golf course that if I wasn't to go ahead and win the FedEx Cup, it would definitely be disappointing,” McIlroy said. “I really want to cap off this summer as best as I can. I have two more weeks to push through, and even though I am feeling a little tired, and I'm trying to conserve as much energy as possible ... Not winning a couple of years ago did add a little bit of fuel to the fire and probably makes me a little bit more determined to try to win it this year.”

If McIlroy is going to add the BMW Championship to his British Open, PGA Championship and WGC-Bridgestone Invitational titles on the PGA Tour this year, he probably won’t be doing it by overpowering Cherry Hills with his driver. As long as he’s hitting it this week, the setup may influence him to keep his favorite club in the bag more than he likes.

“There aren’t many opportunities where you can just hit driver and see how far it goes,” McIlroy said. “You really need to place your ball in the fairway here.”

Cherry Hills will play as a par 70 at 7,352 yards on the scorecard. With a summer of rain, the rough is substantial. With fairways firming up this week, balls are running hard into the rough.

Still, even with the fifth hole playing 526 yards, McIlroy reached the green with a 3-wood and 8-iron in the pro-am.

“You’re going to want to hit approach shots from the short stuff,” McIlroy said.

Though the course may play short, even with 3-woods off tees, McIlroy sees a good test.

“You won't see guys going crazy under par,” he said. “You'll still see some pretty low scores out there, but it's an old, traditional, timeless golf course, in a way. If they want, especially with the green complexes, they can make it as tough as they want. So there's still a bit of bite there.”

If McIlroy wins here, on a famed course that wouldn’t seem to favor his power, he’ll have a lot more folks humming his Hall of Fame song when they see him.

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Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

“There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

“I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

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Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

“I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

“It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

“I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”

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After 36, new Open favorite is ... Fleetwood

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 7:49 pm

With a handful of the pre-championship favorites exiting early, there is a new odds-on leader entering the third round of The Open at Carnoustie.

While Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner share the 36-hole lead, it's England's Tommy Fleetwood who leads the betting pack at 11/2. Fleetwood begins the third round one shot off the lead.

Click here for the leaderboard and take a look below at the odds, courtesy Jeff Sherman at

Tommy Fleetwood: 11/2

Zach Johnson: 13/2

Rory McIlroy: 7/1

Jordan Spieth: 8/1

Rickie Fowler: 9/1

Kevin Kisner: 12/1

Xander Schauffele: 16/1

Tony Finau: 16/1

Matt Kuchar: 18/1

Pat Perez: 25/1

Brooks Koepka: 25/1

Erik van Rooyen: 50/1

Alex Noren: 50/1

Tiger Woods: 50/1

Thorbjorn Olesen: 60/1

Danny Willett: 60/1

Francesco Molinari: 60/1

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Perez (T-3) looks to remedy 'terrible' major record

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 7:34 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Pat Perez’s major record is infinitely forgettable. In 24 Grand Slam starts he has exactly one top-10 finish, more than a decade ago at the PGA Championship.

“Terrible,” Perez said when asked to sum up his major career. “I won sixth [place]. Didn't even break top 5.”

It’s strange, however, that his status atop The Open leaderboard through two rounds doesn’t seem out of character. The 42-year-old admits he doesn’t hit it long enough to contend at most major stops and also concedes he doesn’t exactly have a wealth of knowledge when it comes to the game’s biggest events, but something about The Open works for him.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“I didn't like it the first time I came over. When I went to St. Andrews in '05, I didn't like it because it was cold and terrible and this and that,” he said. “Over the years, I've really learned to like to come over here. Plus the fans are so awesome here. They know a good shot. They don't laugh at you if you hit a bad shot.”

Perez gave the fans plenty to cheer on Friday at Carnoustie, playing 17 flawless holes to move into a share of the lead before a closing bogey dropped him into a tie for third place after a second-round 68.

For Perez, links golf is the great equalizer that mitigates the advantages some of the younger, more powerful players have and it brings out the best in him.

“It's hard enough that I don't feel like I have to hit perfect shots. That's the best,” he said. “Greens, you can kind of miss a shot, and it won't run off and go off the green 40 yards. You're still kind of on the green. You can have a 60-footer and actually think about making it because of the speed.”