The intriguing Rory McIlroy

By Rich LernerJune 17, 2011, 12:10 am

BETHESDA, Md. – It’s a legends-only club, men who’ve won majors age 25 and younger. Men so famous you need not list their full names: Jones, Sarazen, Nelson, Player, Nicklaus, Ballesteros, Watson, Els and Woods.

Colleague Brandel Chamblee likes to say that there’s no better barometer of all-time greatness than winning big early.

When Jack Nicklaus beat Arnold Palmer in the ’62 U.S. Open in Arnie’s backyard at Oakmont he was 22. There wasn’t a shred of doubt that Nicklaus would not only shove aside Arnold but likely Bobby Jones, Sam Snead, Ben Hogan and all of the greats who came before him.

Tiger Woods winning by 12 shots at 21 at Augusta wasn’t a one off, that was damn clear. It was the start of something epic. 

We’re not there with Rory McIlroy yet, not even close. But we’re intrigued, aren’t we?

His glorious swing conjures Tiger back when Tiger was lean and limber, bludgeoning Augusta’s par-5 15th with a driver and a sand wedge.

His resiliency and freakish talent conjures Mickelson.

Three days from now McIlroy could have a fawning and desperate-for-a-new-star media comparing him to Ballesteros, who won his first major at 22.

Three days from now he could draw comparisons to Tom Watson, who picked himself up after a final-round 79 at the 1974 U.S. Open and went on to win eight majors.

Three days from now he could be the answer to the question: What happens after Tiger?

But three days from now could also turn into three years from now.  

McIlroy sat before the press after his round comparing recent Thursdays in majors. Which was better, the 63 at St. Andrews, the 65 at Augusta or the 65 at Congressional?

Greatness will be his when he’s able to compare Sundays. He’s not there yet. But we’re intrigued, aren’t we?

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Casey: RC teams planning Lyle, Celia tributes

By Rex HoggardSeptember 22, 2018, 3:58 pm

ATLANTA – Throughout this season Paul Casey has been in regular contact with European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn, with most communication being via text messages that the Englishman said always included an eclectic range of emojis.

But when the Dane decided to make Casey one of his four captain’s picks, it had to be a phone call.

“He called on Monday (Sept. 3). I was in the parking garage at the Philadelphia Marriott,” Casey said this week at the Tour Championship. “It was rewarding, emotional, so many things.”


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Since being named to the team, Casey said his communication with Bjorn and the other members of the European team has been via WhatsApp, which allows the team to share ideas and finalize plans for next week’s matches. Casey said the exchanges have mainly featured good-natured teasing and a some silly pictures, with a few serious moments.

The European team, in coordination with the U.S. team, is planning to honor Jarrod Lyle, a former PGA Tour player who died last month following his third bout with leukemia, next Thursday in France. There is a public memorial service planned for Lyle on Thursday in Australia.

Casey also said the team is coordinating a plan to also honor Celia Barquín Arozamena, a top college player from Spain who was murdered this week in Iowa.

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Another 59: Nesbitt makes PGA Tour Latinoamerica history

By Nick MentaSeptember 22, 2018, 3:17 pm

For the second time in as many days, the golf world witnessed a professional sub-60.

Drew Nesbitt fired a 12-under 59 on Saturday in the second round of PGA Tour Latinoamerica's Brazil Open.

Nesbitt's round included a bogey, eight pars, five birdies, and four eagles - three of which came on one nine and one of which was an ace at the par-3 second, his 11th hole of the day.

The Canadian closed with three straight birdies, including this one at the ninth, to record the first 59 in the tour's history.

Perhaps more impressive than breaking 60 was that Nesbitt found a way overnight to shave 20 strokes off his first-round 79.

"I knew I had to shoot a low round if I was going to make the cut," he said. "The first hole of the day, I happened to knock it in from 100 yards and get my day started pretty quickly. ...

"My goal, obviously, was just to make the cut. To do it shooting 59 was absolutely incredible. You can't really ask for anything more than that."

With rounds of 79-59 for a 4-under-138 total, Nesbitt sits in a tie for 32nd through two rounds, 10 off the lead held by 2015 champ Alexandre Rocha.

"This is a golfer's dream, to shoot a sub-60 round and to do it in a tourmament and to do on this tour especially makes it that much more special," he said.

On Friday, Oliver Fisher became the first player in history to break 60 on the European Tour with a 12-under 59 at the Portugal Masters.

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Tiger Tracker: Tour Championship

By Tiger TrackerSeptember 22, 2018, 3:00 pm

Tiger Woods is in the final group on Saturday at the Tour Championship. He's out at 2:30 p.m. ET with Justin Rose and we're tracking him.


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Stricker shares first-round lead in South Dakota

By Associated PressSeptember 22, 2018, 12:48 am

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - Steve Stricker shot a 7-under 63 on Friday to share the first-round lead at the Sanford International.

The 51-year-old Stricker was 8 under through 17 holes at chilly, rain-softened Minnehaha Country Club but closed with a bogey to fall into a tie with Jerry Smith, Brandt Jobe and David McKenzie.

Stricker only got to play seven holes in the pro-am because of rain that prevented the field from getting in much practice.

''You've just kind of got to trust your yardage book and hit to the spots and then try to make a good game plan on the way into the green, too, not really knowing where to hit it or where to miss it up there on the green. Sometimes it's good, too,'' Stricker said. ''You go around and you're focused a lot more on hitting it to a specific spot and not knowing what lies ahead in the course. So I guess today was the ultimate 'Take one hole at a time' because we didn't really know anything else, what was coming.''


Full-field scores from the Sanford International


Stricker has two wins and has not finished worse than fifth in six starts this season on the over-50 tour as he continues to play a part-time schedule on the PGA Tour. Next week, he will be one of U.S. Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk's assistants at the matches outside Paris.

McKenzie, a 51-year-old Australian, had two eagles on the back nine, holing a wedge from 116 yards on the par-5 16th.

''We got told ... to play faster on No. 16, and so my caddie just said, 'Hit it in the hole so you don't have to putt it,' so I just did what he told me,'' McKenzie said.

Smith had eagles on Nos. 4 and 12.

''Honestly, I was just trying to hit some good shots and I really wasn't with the irons,'' Smith said. ''I just really didn't like the way I hit them today. You know, just the putter was the big difference for me. I just felt good with it all day, especially say outside of 10, 15 feet, where I felt like I was a lot.''

Scott McCarron, Lee Janzen and Paul Goydos were one shot back. McCarron came in second in the Charles Schwab Cup money standings behind Miguel Angel Jimenez, who is not playing this week.