Not Business Just Personal

By Rex HoggardNovember 11, 2010, 1:03 am
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – It is a war in words only – a row complicated by time and assumptions, which is the worst kind of quarrel.

On Monday, Rory McIlroy said he was done with the PGA Tour after a 12-month experiment. He said that after the PGA Championship neither his heart nor head was in the game. That home and harp, not history and heritage, was what’s important right now.

Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy, who won the 2010 Quail Hollow event, said he will not take up PGA Tour membership next season. (Getty Images)
It is a curious case of jingoistic nonsense then that McIlroy’s decision was viewed in some American quarters as a slight to the U.S. circuit. Somehow McIlroy’s decision, and Lee Westwood's before him, is being played on these shores as an indictment of a PGA Tour on the ropes.

To twist the words of Tom Hagen of “Godfather” fame it’s not business, it’s all personal for McIlroy and Westwood.

Make no mistake, the Tour needs young Rory more than he needs the Tour at this point in time. But that’s far too politically corrupt for McIlroy.

McIlroy is packing up his ProV1 and going home because the PGA Tour can be a lonely place, particularly for a 21-year-old who grew up in Holywood, Northern Ireland, pop. 12,037.

He’s headed home because he misses his girlfriend and his dog and, a crucial point that is far too often dismissed, he can.

McIlroy will get 10 Tour starts as a non-member in 2011, two fewer than other non-members because of his decision to shed his membership. One tournament director took the news much harder than McIlroy likely did on Tuesday considering that his starts will be limited to the four majors, three World Golf Championships, the Quail Hollow Championship (where he is the defending champion), The Players Championship and just one other.

Yet as much as some want to make this an “us against them” issue, it is no more than a quality of life decision.

Greg Owen should know. He was born and raised in Nottinghamshire, England, not far from where Westwood calls home and he knows how easy it can be to trade the bright lights of the U.S. Tour for the solace of the European circuit.

“It’s what you perceive to be important,” Owen said. “Was (Colin Montgomerie) wrong? I don’t think there’s a wrong way to do it.”

Owen – who joined the PGA Tour in 2005 and has never looked back – tried to split time between the two circuits in ’05 with pedestrian results. He was bounced out of the Open Championship that year because of a technicality and narrowly missed making it into the Masters because of world ranking math.

He can also attest to McIlroy’s point that the PGA Tour can be a lonely place when the putts aren’t falling.

“I played terrible this year and it’s a terrible place to be if you don’t have any family out here,” Owen said. “Everybody is so focused on what they are doing. It’s completely understandable, but very lonely.”

From a logistic point of view, McIlroy’s aversion to playing both circuits because of the scheduling demands rings a tad dubious. Although the minimum number of starts on each tour add up to 28 events (13 in Europe and 15 in America), co-sanctioned crossover between the majors and WGCs add up to just 20 events. Hardly Cal Ripken Jr. stuff.

There is also the notion that had Montgomerie played more in the United States during his prime he would have somehow been better prepared to win one of those heartbreaking majors that eluded him.

“OK,” Owen concedes, “but if you were to tell (Westwood) he’d win a major if he stays in the States I’m guessing he probably would. But you can’t guarantee that.”

Besides, both McIlroy and Westwood have already gotten off the PGA Tour schneid and are making regular cameos on Grand Slam leaderboards with ready-for-primetime games. What could be gained from an extra five starts on U.S. soil?

But then McIlroy and Westwood’s decision isn’t about starts or status. The global economy has somewhat leveled the purse gap between the PGA Tour and the European circuit and Westwood’s climb to the top of the Official World Golf Ranking has proven it’s no longer necessary to play both to establish a legacy – at least not in the eyes of the world golf ranking.

For years the world critiqued the top American players for their insular ways, but ultimately the independent contractors stayed home because they could. Now Europe’s best and brightest are staying home, not because they have an axe to grind or because there is something wrong with the PGA Tour. No, they are staying at home because they can.
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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 at Colonial, Rose has marked 12 birdies against 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.

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Koepka (63): Two wrist dislocations in two months

By Nick MentaMay 25, 2018, 8:19 pm

Brook Koepka's journey back from a wrist injury that kept him out four months hasn't been totally smooth sailing, even if his play has suggested otherwise.

Koepka on Friday fired a 7-under 63 to move up the leaderboard into a tie for third, three shots behind leader Justin Rose through the end of the morning wave at the Fort Worth Invitational.

After a slow start Thursday saw him play his first 13 holes 3 over, Koepka is 10 under with 11 birdies in his last 23 holes at Colonial.

"It doesn't matter to me. I could care less. I'm still going to try as hard as I can," Koepka said. "I don't care how many over or how many under I am. Still going to fight through it."

Full-field scores from the Fort Worth Invitational

Fort Worth Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

Just like he's been fighting his wrist the last two months or so. Koepka reinjured his wrist the Wednesday of The Players when he was practicing on the range and had to halt mid-swing after a golf cart drove in front of him. He nonetheless managed to finish T-11.

And that's not the only issue he's had with that wrist during his return.

"We had a bone pop out of place. I didn't tell anybody, but, yeah, they popped it back in," Koepka admitted Friday. "Luckily enough we kind of popped it back into place right away so it wasn't stiff and I didn't have too, too many problems.

"Yeah. I mean, I've dislocated my wrist twice in the last two months. You know, different spots, but, I mean, it's fun. I'll be all right."

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Twitter spat turns into fundraising opportunity

By Rex HoggardMay 25, 2018, 6:30 pm

Country music star Jake Owen, along with Brandt Snedeker, has turned a spat on Twitter into a fundraising campaign that will support Snedeker’s foundation.

On Thursday, Owen was criticized during the opening round of the Tour’s Nashville Golf Open, which benefits the Snedeker Foundation, for his poor play after opening with an 86.

In response, Snedeker and country singer Chris Young pledged $5,000 for every birdie that Owen makes on Friday in a campaign called NGO Birdies for Kids

Although Owen, who is playing the event on a sponsor exemption, doesn’t tee off for Round 2 in Nashville until 2 p.m. (CT), the campaign has already generated interest, with NBC Sports/Golf Channel analyst Peter Jacobsen along with Tour player Zac Blair both pledging $100 for every birdie Owen makes.

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Noren so impressed by Rory: 'I'm about to quit golf'

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 25, 2018, 5:33 pm

Alex Noren won the BMW PGA Championship last year, one of his nine career European Tour victories.

He opened his title defense at Wentworth Club in 68-69 and is tied for fourth through two rounds. Unfortunately, he's five back of leader Rory McIlroy. And after playing the first two days alongside McIlroy, Noren, currently ranked 19th in the world, doesn't seem to like his chances of back-to-back wins.

McIlroy opened in 67 and then shot a bogey-free 65 in second round, which included pars on the pair of par-5 finishing holes. Noren walked away left in awe.

"That's the best round I've ever seen," Noren said. "I'm about to quit golf, I think."

Check out the full interview below: