D. Johnson bashes his way to victory at brawny Doral

By Rex HoggardMarch 9, 2015, 12:35 am

DORAL, Fla. – It’s official, the bigger, badder Doral is the Daytona International Speedway of the PGA Tour.

The latest iteration of the Blue Monster is a sprawling track that yields only to power and the looming notion that participants are always just a single turn away from disaster.

Consider that the final leaderboard featured Nos. 1 (Dustin Johnson), 2 (Bubba Watson) and 3 (J.B. Holmes) in driving distance for the week.

Consider that your win (Johnson), place (Holmes) and show (Watson) combined to hit 10,722 yards worth of drives for the week. Or, to put that in context, the PGA Tour’s original “bash brothers” hit over six miles of drives for the week.

“It lives up to its name. Before [the redesign] I didn’t think it did,” Holmes said of the new Blue.

More so than any other golf course on Tour, Doral rewards power. It was no surprise that the week ended with the game’s three longest dueling down the stretch on a windblown and rain-lashed layout.

Holmes began the day with a five-stroke lead. Within an hour he was tied with Watson after bogeys at three of his first six holes. Before the turn he was trailing Watson by two, a seven-shot swing in seven holes.

His closing 75 was 13 strokes higher than his course-record tying 62 and left him alone in second place at 8 under par, a stroke behind Johnson.

WGC-Cadillac Championship: Articles, videos and photos

“I knew if I shot 72, that would probably be good enough. That's kind of what I was going to, to be honest with you, I thought probably 2 or 3 over would have been enough,” Holmes said.

Watson was next to stumble with back-to-back bogeys after finding five bunkers in two holes (Nos. 11 and 12). Consider it karma, either instant or otherwise, for a player who just two days earlier squared his relationship with the redesigned Blue Monster by saying, “I can't stand the golf course. It's way too tough for me.”

But then Bubba was hardly the only frat brother grousing about Gil Hanse’s handiwork. Few could have blamed Rory McIlroy for a well-placed shot or two considering for the week he pumped nearly two sleeves of Nike golf balls (five, to be exact) into Doral’s murky lagoons, not to mention a rather well-traveled 3-iron.

On Sunday before McIlroy teed off, Doral owner Donald Trump presented the world No. 1 with the 3-iron he deposited into the lake adjacent the eighth fairway during Friday’s second round. The Don had the club fished from the depths by a diver and returned to the Northern Irishman.

But McIlroy was more interested in rediscovering his dominant form in the run up to the Masters than a rescued club following a solid, if not spectacular, week in South Florida.

“[Caddie J.P. Fitzpatrick] said to me on the last green, ‘I think we left our game in the desert [Dubai and Abu Dhabi, where he won and finished second, respectively, to start his year].’ It’s still back there,” said McIlroy, who closed with an even-par 72 to tie for ninth. “Just playing quite conservatively which is very much unlike me.”

With the golf gods being how they are it was also no surprise that Holmes, who blasted the nip/tucked first hole on Friday, would eventually fall away, as well.

That left Johnson, who holed a crucial 10 footer for par at the 14th hole, and he pulled away with a 13 footer for birdie at the next.

“I really wasn't paying much attention. I knew Bubba was playing well. I knew where I was, I was playing pretty well,” said Johnson, who closed the week with rounds of 69 to extend his winning streak to eight consecutive years, the longest active streak on Tour. “This golf course is so tough, you never know what's going to happen.”

For Johnson, however, his ninth Tour victory went well beyond the box score. The last 12 months have been the most tumultuous of his professional career, a span that included a six-month, self-imposed hiatus from the game to deal with “personal challenges,” and a published report, citing an anonymous source, that he had been suspended by the Tour for failing a drug test.

Johnson denied the report. The Tour denied the report, and when he returned to the fold last month at Torrey Pines he talked of self-improvement and misplaced priorities.

“I've been working hard on my game and been working hard on me, and so it means a great deal to have some success right out of the gate. It gives me a lot of confidence,” said Johnson, who won in his fifth start back on Tour.

Late Sunday as he finished his round by bashing his drive 317 yards into the heart of the toughest par 4 on Tour this season, the undisputed king of the long ball put away any lingering doubt regarding his future or Doral’s status as golf’s preeminent super speedway.

Getty Images

McIlroy 'committed to everything ... ran out of holes'

By Jay CoffinJuly 22, 2018, 7:08 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy summed it up: “I don’t really feel like it’s a defeat. I feel like it’s a good week.”

McIlroy, in search of his fifth major, tied for the lead at The Open late on Sunday at Carnoustie when he made eagle on the par-5 14th hole. An hour later, he had made five consecutive pars to close out a 1-under 70 and tie for second place with Justin Rose, Kevin Kisner and Xander Schauffele.

That group ended two shots behind winner Francesco Molinari. McIlroy thought it was realistic to squeeze one more shot out of his round, but he never though it was possible to squeeze out two.

“I committed to everything,” he said. “I hit the shots when I needed to. I made good swings on 17 and on 18. I just ran out of holes.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

McIlroy hasn’t played poorly this year, but this hasn't been a year that would rank as a total success. He took the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March and collected a second-place finish at the BMW PGA Championship. He had a legitimate chance to win the Masters before a terrible Sunday round, and then missed the cut at the U.S. Open last month at Shinnecock Hills.

Sunday at Carnoustie, McIlroy bogeyed two of his first five holes and quickly became an afterthought. When others faltered, McIlroy birdies Nos. 9 and 11, then eagled 14 to vault back into the picture.

“I’m happy with how I played,” he said. “I didn’t get off to a great start, but I hung in there, and I battled back.

“So I’ll look back at this week and be very encouraged about what I’ve done and the golf that I played. I feel like that will stand me in good stead for what’s coming up.”

McIlroy is scheduled to play the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in two weeks, followed by the PGA Championship and the FedExCup Playoffs.

Getty Images

Edoardo, other pros congratulate Francesco on Twitter

By Grill Room TeamJuly 22, 2018, 6:54 pm

Francesco Molinari played a bogey-free weekend at Carnoustie to claim Italy's first claret jug.

His rock-solid performance in the final round earned him his share of social media plaudits.

Here's a collection of Twitter hat-tips, and we start off with Frankie's brother, Dodo.

Getty Images

Woods: Fan who yelled had 'tipped back a few'

By Jay CoffinJuly 22, 2018, 6:37 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tiger Woods stood on the 18th tee and thought he needed birdie to have a chance to win The Open. He pulled driver out of his bag, a sign he wanted to boot the ball as far down the fairway as possible.

Woods took a mighty swat and - right in the middle of his downswing - someone yelled. Woods flinched.

Luckily his ball still found a decent spot just off the right of the fairway.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“I’ve had things like that happen a lot in my career with people who just tried to time it,” Woods said Sunday at Carnoustie after shooting 71 to tie for sixth place. “They tipped back a few, and it’s late in the day.

“Unfortunately, that’s part of what we have to deal with in today’s game. People are trying to yell out things to try to be on TV or be in social media or whatever it may be. That was too close to the game of play.”

Woods hit his approach to 6 feet and missed the birdie putt. He tapped in for par to shoot even par and finish 5 under for the week, in a tie for sixth.

Getty Images

Pros melt down on Twitter as they watch Tiger

By Grill Room TeamJuly 22, 2018, 6:30 pm

Tiger Woods mounted a final-round charge and, for a little while, took the outright lead at Carnoustie on Sunday.

His fellow pros were watching and tweeting like your average fans.

We compiled some of their missives below:

Woods would go on to finish in a tie for sixth at 5 under par for the week.