Fleet Street foolishness

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2011, 5:23 pm

When everything you do is wrong, what motivation do you have to do right?

That thought, or whatever the Northern Irish variation would be, must be swirling about young Rory McIlroy’s head today, along with a healthy dose of Advil following another major championship for Ulster and another Guinness-laden victory celebration.

When the 22-year-old U.S. Open champion walked off Royal St. George’s on Sunday, wind battered and more than a little bitter following weekend rounds of 74-73 and a penalty stroke for a blown golf  ball, he was asked to sum up his Open experience.

He said, “I'm not a fan of golf tournaments that the outcome is predicted so much by the weather. It's not my sort of golf . . . looking forward to getting back and playing in Akron (WGC-Bridgestone Invitational), playing the PGA and getting back into some nice conditions.”

What Monday’s headline in the tabloid Daily Mail said was: “I hate the weather and can’t wait to get back to America’s sunshine.”

Seems something was lost in translation between the Queen’s English and the version McIlroy grew up speaking in Holywood, Northern Ireland. And the Mail story was hardly the exception.

Perhaps only media mogul Rupert Murdoch, whose phone-hacking scandal has rocked the United Kingdom, had a worse day in the press on Monday. And for what – honesty, an innate understanding of his own limitations, a long view of a career that has scarcely gotten off the first tee?

Other than the “looking forward to getting back” to America comment – the game’s new alpha male is limited to 10 tournaments on the PGA Tour this year and will probably only use nine of those starts – McIlroy’s comments were honest to the extreme, particularly when he was asked if he would consider changing his game to play links golf.

“No point in changing your game for one week a year,” said McIlroy, who also struggled in the wind and rain last year at St. Andrews when he ballooned to a second-round 80 in brutal conditions following an opening 63.

Never mind that many of the same pundits who have decried Martin Kaymer’s decision to add a draw to his repertoire specifically to play Augusta National – a move some say has led to a mini-slump for the German this year – are now thumbing their collective noses at the boy’s impudence towards the ancient game.

“You would think anyone growing up playing golf in Northern Ireland would have quickly come to terms with such things as wind, rain and cold. Not Rory McIlroy, apparently, who made a somewhat petulant departure from the Open by blaming the weather for a modest showing which saw him finish in a tie for 25th,” the Daily Mail story began.

And it wasn’t just the Fleet Street types who took McIlroy to task. On Tuesday Welshman Ian Woosnam told the Associated Press, “to be a true golfer, you have to be able to play in different golf conditions.” While 1994 Open champion Nick Price reasoned that McIlroy, “is going to have 20 or 30 Opens in his career – he doesn’t want to have that attitude.”

So McIlroy doesn’t like to play golf in a typhoon, who does? I mean, besides Darren Clarke.

McIlroy is an Ulsterman to his core but has a distinctly American game, complete with a high ball flight and aggressive short game, the byproduct, no doubt, of having grown up playing Holywood Golf Club, a parkland-style course with small greens and large fairways. It’s the kind of skill sets that play well from Whistling Straits to Magnolia Lane as evidenced by his scorecard in the last five majors – T-3 (2010 Open Championship), T-3 (2010 PGA Championship), T-15 (2011 Masters), victory (2011 U.S. Open) and T-25 (2011British Open).

Besides, to reason that McIlroy doesn’t have the game to play links golf is to ignore the facts, This is, after all, the same swing that produced a course-record 61 at Royal Portrush Golf Club when McIlroy was 16 years old and he enjoys a regular game at Royal County Down Golf Club, two of the most wind-whipped layouts this side of Fife.

“My game is suited for basically every golf course and most conditions, but these conditions I just don't enjoy playing in really,” said McIlroy, who is making a habit out of having the clearest head in the room. “That's the bottom line. I'd rather play when it's 80 degrees and sunny and not much wind.”

It’s also concerning that McIlroy is already falling victim to the media’s unrealistic expectations, with more than one United Kingdom publication referring to his  “mediocre 25th-place finish” at Royal St. George’s.

From the moment he steamrolled the field at Congressional the comparisons to Jack Nicklaus have been almost inevitable. A few weeks ago we warned in this space that the last 17 majors are usually the hardest to win. In light of what has transpired since Sunday perhaps another warning is in order.

In this Price is correct, the young Ulsterman has 20 or 30 more Opens to make his mark on the claret jug, and there’s no way we’re betting against him. Not with that swing.

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Childhood rivals share Sr. PGA lead

By Associated PressMay 26, 2018, 12:00 am

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - Kevin Sutherland birdied his last two holes Friday for a 5-under 66 and a share of the Senior PGA Championship lead with California childhood rival Scott McCarron.

Sutherland, the Charles Schwab Cup winner, played in the third-to-last group of the day at Harbor Shores, while McCarron reached 8 under in the morning wave to emerge from a championship-record group of six tied for the first-round lead.

Sutherland's only senior victory came in the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship. McCarron has six PGA Tour Champions wins, including a major at the 2017 Senior Players Championship.

Full-field scores from the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship

Sutherland's lone PGA Tour victory came at McCarron's expense in 2002 at La Costa in the Accenture Match Play Championship, when he beat the fellow Sacramento-area player 1 up in the 36-hole final.

Jerry Kelly shot a 65 to join Tim Petrovic (69), Chris Williams (68) and Joe Durant (67) at 7 under.

Durant tied for second last week in the Regions Tradition, also a major championship.

Nevada club professional Stuart Smith, tied for the first-round lead after a 66, had an 83 to miss the cut. He's the director of golf at Somersett Country Club in Reno.

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Wise, Simpson both miss cut at Colonial

By Nick MentaMay 25, 2018, 11:34 pm

The two most recent winners on the PGA Tour, Aaron Wise and Webb Simpson, missed the cut at the Fort Worth Invitational on Friday.

Wise and Simpson both came up short of the 2-over total by a shot following rounds of 70-73.

Wise was safely inside the number before playing his last four holes in 4 over par with two bogeys and a closing double following a trip into the water at the par-4 ninth.

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Simpson, making his first start following his Players triumph, similarly struggled coming home, bogeying three of his final six holes.

Other notables who won't be around for the weekend at Colonial include Xander Schauffele (+4), Jason Dufner (+5), Patrick Cantlay (+6), Smylie Kaufman (+13), and Sam Burns (+13).

This is Kaufman's 11th consecutive MC and his 15th in his last 16 starts.

Jason Seaman and Kristi Hubly Seaman

Sr. PGA caddie learns of nephew's heroism in school shooting

By Tim RosaforteMay 25, 2018, 10:33 pm

Tracy Hubly caddied for her husband, club pro Chris Starkjohann, on Friday at the KitchenAid Senior PGA and learned after their round that her nephew was credited with helping stop the school shooting at Noblesville West Middle School in Indiana.

Jason Seaman, a 29-year-old science instructor and seventh grade football coach at the school, took three bullets but survived as what his aunt called a hero.

“You hear the stories about these shootings and I think about Parkland and the officer that was trained but didn’t go into the school,” Hubly said. “It’s really shocking to think it comes close to your family, but it does."

It’s not unusual for Hubly to caddie for her husband, a teacher at Carlsbad Golf Center and coach of a PGA Junior League program in Southern California. Hubly, who works in the pro shop at Emerald Island Golf Course in Oceanside, Calif., was on the bag when he was low golf professional at the 2009 Senior PGA Championship held at Canterbury GC. 

Starkjohann, 61, missed the cut at Harbor Shores with rounds of 76-79—155 and was heading to the Colorado State Open.

 “I didn’t hear about it until after my round was done,” Starkjohann said. “Everything happened after I got in.” 

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Rose (64) peaking just ahead of the U.S. Open

By Nick MentaMay 25, 2018, 8:40 pm

A former U.S. Open champion appears to be finding his form just three weeks ahead of the year's second major.

Justin Rose ascended to the top of the leaderboard Friday at the Fort Worth Invitational, with rounds of 66-64 pushing him to 10 under par for the week.

Through 36 holes at Colonial, Rose has marked down 12 birdies and just two bogeys.

"Yeah, I did a lot of good things today," Rose said. "I think, you know, the end of my round got a little scrappy, but until the last three holes it was pretty flawless. I think I hit every fairway pretty much and obviously every green to that point. ...

"Yeah, the way I played through, I guess through my first 15 holes today, was about as good as I've played in a long time."

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Rose won in back-to-back weeks last fall, stunning Dustin Johnson at the WGC-HSBC Championship and riding that victory right into another at the Turkish Airlines Open.

Now the 2013 U.S. Open winner at Merion feels himself once again rounding into form ahead of this year's Open at Shinnecock. A final-round 66 at The Players gave Rose something to focus on in his recent practice sessions with swing coach Sean Foley, as the two work to shore up the timing of Rose's transition into the downswing.

As for his decision to tee it up at Colonial for the first time since 2010, "It was more the run of form really," Rose explained. "I feel like if I didn't play here it was going to be a little spotty going into the U.S. Open. I felt like I wanted to play enough golf where I would have a good read on my game going into Shinnecock.

"So rather than the venue it was more the timing, but it's obviously it's just such a bonus to be on a great layout like this."

For whatever reason, Rose does tend to play his best golf at iconic venues, having won PGA Tour events at Muirfield Village, Aronimink, Cog Hill, Doral, Merion and Congressional.