Great expectations

By Rex HoggardJune 22, 2011, 9:16 pm

The accolades have rained down like a Northern Irish squall. As countryman Graeme McDowell opined, you can run out of things to say about Rory McIlroy’s victory last week at Congressional, but that hasn’t stopped the pundits from trying.

Among the headlines that awaited Monday morning, The Washington Post went with “The future is now,” while Sports Illustrated gave us “Golf’s New Era.” With a monsoon of respect to both institutions, Dewey didn’t win.

If the Chicago Daily Tribune’s infamous “Dewey defeats Truman” headline in 1948 was a tad premature, the modern media’s incessant hyperbole is equally misplaced. McIlroy’s eight-stroke U.S. Open romp was historic, brilliant, as the Northern Irish might say, maybe even a game changer, but to declare that the 22-year-old is poised to step in for the injured and widely invisible Tiger Woods is unfair and wildly unrealistic.

For the record, McIlroy now has one major – the same number, it should be noted, as Shaun Micheel, Ben Curtis and Todd Hamilton. Hold off on the emails and “reader’s comments” for a moment – we’re not saying McIlroy is a similar “one-hit” wonder, just that we may be getting ahead of ourselves.

That he’s been in the hunt at four of the last seven majors and is possibly two cards of 80 away from the front-end of a “Rory Slam” is certainly reason to sit up and take notice, but before we dub him the next king let’s take a moment and listen to the man himself.

“It is nice that people say that he could be this or he could be that or he could win 20 major championships, but at the end of the day I've won one,” McIlroy said in Sunday’s victory glow.

It’s worth noting that at 22, McIlroy may have been the coolest head in the Congressional media room Sunday night.

It wasn’t that long ago we were handing Woods the major championship crown, Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 Grand Slams an easy mark as he marched to history at an alarming clip. He’d won 14 majors in 41 Grand Slam starts as a professional, a .350 batting average that put the Golden Bear’s benchmark in danger long before Woods’ 40th birthday.

But then Woods got sideways on a residential Isleworth thoroughfare, sent to the DL by an assortment of injuries and, in the wake of Wednesday’s announcement he will not play next week’s AT&T National, appears destined for the toughest climb of his career.

Like they were for Nicklaus before him, the last four majors promise to be the toughest for Woods.

Similarly, forgive our reluctance to anoint McIlroy the next king. Despite the media’s quick-draw declarations there is going to be nothing easy about the next 13 majors for McIlroy.

This has nothing to do with McIlroy’s U.S. Open performance or a golf course on the softer side of par. His victory had nothing to do with his relation to par, although his assortment of shattered scoring records are nothing short of mind blowing, as much as it was his relation to the rest of the field.

The best player won, by a touchdown and then some.

Nor is this about the level of competition. Many of the same scribes who have declared McIlroy the game’s next alpha male have penned that his victory at Congressional came against a deeper level of competition than Woods faced, an opinion that dismiss Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson, a Hall of Famer and a future Hall of Famer, respectively, as bit players.

The field is not deeper now, although the collective confidence may be at an all-time high thanks in no small part to Woods’ recent swoon.

Lost amid the Rory hyperbole is also the logistical truth that the Northern Irishlad is happier at home, content to ply his trade on the European Tour with only the occasional American cameo on his calendar.

As a former PGA Tour member who let his membership lapse last year, McIlroy is limited this season to 10 Tour starts plus The Players Championship, which he skipped. He already has seven Tour starts and currently plans to play only the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and PGA Championship the rest of the way.

On this McIlroy’s charismatic manager Chubby Chandler has been clear – don’t expect to see his client playing full-time in the United States any time soon.

“It will be three or four years before he tries the PGA Tour again,” Chandler said in April at Augusta National. “The scoreboard says he’s probably got it right. He’s very aware that he doesn’t want to get burnt out. It’s not a slap on the (PGA) Tour. If he could play 12 or 13 he’d be all right.”

Bypassing a PGA Tour card is certainly his right and it’s impossible to argue with the results McIlroy’s limited schedule has produced, but from a pure marketing point of view it will be difficult to build the kind of momentum Woods had with a limited Tour schedule.

Time will tell if McIlroy eventually challenges Woods, or Nicklaus, for the Grand Slam crown. Recent history certainly suggests he’s on the right road, but as the last two years have taught us that byway is filled with more potholes than a Northern Irish alley. Let’s enjoy the moment and let history and his own limitless potential dictate how far McIlroy will go.

Getty Images

Rose leads Koepka, Grillo by four at Colonial

By Nick MentaMay 26, 2018, 9:06 pm

On the strength of a 4-under 66 Saturday, Justin Rose will take an four-shot lead over Brooks Koepka and Emiliano Grillo into the final round of the Fort Worth Invitational. Here's where things stand through 54 holes at Colonial Country Club.

Leaderboard: Rose (-14), Koepka (-10), Grillo (-10), Corey Conners (-8), Jon Rahm (-8), Louis Oosthuizen (-8), J.T. Poston (-8), Ryan Armour (-8)

What it means: The fifth-ranked player in the world is 18 holes from his ninth PGA Tour victory and his second this season. Up once to start the third round, Rose extended his lead to as much as five with birdies on four of his first six holes. Through 54 holes, Rose has made XX birdies and just XX bogeys. The 2013 U.S. Open winner and 2016 Olympic gold medalist has a history of winning at iconic venues - Muirfield Village, Aronimink, Cog Hill, Doral, Merion and Congressional - and now looks to add Colonial to the list. He'll be chased on Sunday by Grillo, the young Argentianian who won his first Tour start as a member in 2015, and Koepka, last year's U.S. Open winner who continues to impress in his injury comeback despite ongoing wrist issues.  

Round of the day: Corey Conners and Ted Potter both turned in 8-under 63. Potter was bogey-free and Conners came home in 6-under 29 on the back nine.

Best of the rest: Jon Rahm, Louis Oosthuizen, Brian Harman, and Michael Thompson all signed for 64. Rahm called his six-birdie start the best 10 holes he's played so far this year. 

Biggest disappointment: Jordan Spieth has finished second-first-second in the last three years at this event, but he's yet to find his normal Colonial form through three rounds. Spieth, who said Friday he was capable of shooting "10 or 12 under" over the weekend, shot even-par 70 Saturday. He sits in T-38 at 3 under for the week, 11 back.

Shot of the day: Rory Sabbatini closed out his third round Saturday with this eagle holeout from 134 yards at the 18th. 

His colorful scorecard featured three bogeys, two birdies, a double bogey and that eagle. It added up to a 1-over 71. 

Getty Images

McCarron closes with only bogey, shares lead

By Associated PressMay 26, 2018, 8:49 pm

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - Scott McCarron, seeking a second senior major title to go with his 2017 Senior Players Championship, made his only bogey of the third round on the final hole to slip into a tie for the lead Saturday with Tim Petrovic in the Senior PGA Championship.

They were at 13 under par after Petrovic, seeking his first major, shot 65. McCarron has shared the lead through three rounds.

England's Paul Broadhurst, the 2016 British Senior Open winner, matched the best third-round score in tournament history with a 64. He was at 11 under.

Miguel Angel Jimenez, coming off his first major championship last week at the Regions Tradition, shot 65 and was 9 under.

Tom Byrum, who made a hole-in-one in shooting a 67, was in a group at 8 under.

Getty Images

Watch: Rose one-arms approach, makes birdie

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 26, 2018, 7:25 pm

Justin Rose appears to have taken a course in Hideki Matsuyama-ing.

Already 3 under on his round through five thanks to a birdie-birdie-birdie start, Rose played this approach from 143 yards at the par-4 sixth.

That one-armed approach set up a 6-foot birdie putt he rolled in to move to 4 under on his round and 14 under for the week, five clear of the field.

Getty Images

McIlroy battles back into tie for BMW PGA lead

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 26, 2018, 4:09 pm

Rory McIlroy got off to a rocky start on Saturday in the third round of the BMW PGA Championship, including hitting a spectator and making a double bogey. But after that incident on the sixth hole, he didn't drop another shot, birdieing the final hole to shoot a 1-under 71 and tie for the lead.

McIlroy had gone into Moving Day with a three-shot lead, but Francesco Molinari had the round of the day, a 6-under 66. "It was nice keep a clean scorecard," said Molinari, who hasn't made a bogey since the 10th hole on Friday.

Full-field scores from the BMW PGA Championship

McIlroy and Molinari will be paired in Sunday's final round. They are tied at 13 under par, four shots clear of Ross Fisher, Branden Grace, Sam Horsfield and Alexander Noren.

The Wentworth course ends with back-to-back par-5s, and McIlroy birdied both of them. He got a break on the 18th hole as his drive hit a spectator and bounced into light rough.

"It was a struggle out there today," McIlroy said. "I think when you're working on a few things in your swing and the wind is up and you're stuck between trying to play different shots, but also try to play - you know, make good swings at it, I just hit some loose tee balls on the first few holes. But I'm proud of myself. I stayed patient. I actually - I'm feeling a bit better about myself after today than I was even walking off the course yesterday."