No. 1 Day motivated to hold off McIlroy, Spieth

By Ryan Reiterman May 31, 2016, 8:39 pm

DUBLIN, Ohio – World No. 1 Jason Day took the last two weeks off to recharge after a stressful – but very satisfying – wire-to-wire win at The Players.

And while Day was away, the two guys in his rearview mirror in the world rankings – Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy – took back the headlines to set up a blockbuster showdown this week at the Memorial Tournament. All three players won in their last worldwide start.

Day took notice.

“I extended my lead for a while, and now Jordan and Rory are both closing in on it,” Day said Tuesday at the Memorial.

It can be lonely at the top – just ask Tiger Woods – but Day has found plenty of company with his two contemporaries. They have been passing around the No. 1 ranking for most of the past year, and they have combined to win five of the last nine majors.

McIlroy ruled the top spot for 54 weeks, mostly thanks to his two majors and a WGC win in 2014.

Spieth took over for McIlroy last August and ruled most of 2015 by nearly winning the Grand Slam, but Day was not far behind as he matched Spieth with five wins but one less major. Spieth ended the year at No. 1, but so far in 2016 Day has tightened his grip on the throne with three wins.


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Coming off a disastrous finish at Augusta and a missed cut at The Players, a grumpy Spieth admitted two weeks ago he was bothered that Day was extending his lead.

“It should bother guys who are competitive and want to stay on top as well,” Day said. “There's nothing wrong with being bothered by that.”

Spieth responded Sunday with a back-nine 30 to win his first professional event in his home state of Texas.

McIlroy had his “hey, don’t forget about me” moment two weeks ago at the Irish Open when he hit two brawny fairway woods down the stretch to win his “fifth major.”

Again, Day took notice.

“Some of the best 3-woods and 5-woods I've seen in a long while,” he said.

Now Day has a chance to respond, and he would love nothing more than to do it at his home course. But first Day will have to improve on his self-described “horrific” record at Muirfield Village. Day is a member – his wife, Elle, is from Ohio – but he has yet to crack the top 10 in eight starts at the Memorial.

The good news for Day is that he drew inspiration from his bad record at TPC Sawgrass and won The Players. He hopes a new approach will turn his fortunes around this week.

“I typically play this course when I'm playing in a social rounds; I play it very aggressive,” he said. “I'm hitting drivers off most tees or taking lines that you wouldn't take, and then I – for some reason, I've kind of turned that into the actual tournament, and I'm taking similar lines, and you just can't do that.”

In addition to world No. 2 Spieth and No. 3 McIlory, Day will have to contend with No. 4 Bubba Watson, No. 5 Rickie Fowler, and No. 8 Dustin Johnson, plus other big names like Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar and Hideki Matsuyama.

It is only the fifth time this year the latest version of the “Big 3” has been in the same field. Day has won two of those events (Match Play, Players), and he knows it will take a lot of work to stay at the top and hold off Spieth and McIlroy.

“It's a lot of pressure to be in this situation we're in, but we wouldn't want it any other way,” he said.

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Woods (T-6) qualifies for WGC-Bridgestone via OWGR

By Will GrayJuly 22, 2018, 7:43 pm

After narrowly missing out on a 15th major title at Carnoustie, Tiger Woods can take solace in the fact that he earned a return to Firestone Country Club by the thinnest of margins.

Woods was ranked No. 71 in the world entering The Open, and the top 50 in the rankings on both July 23 and July 30 will earn invites to the upcoming WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Despite missing a short birdie putt on the 72nd hole, Woods' three-way tie for sixth was enough to lift him to exactly 50th in the updated rankings.

It means that Woods will return to Akron in two weeks despite starting the year ranked No. 656. Firestone's South Course is the site of eight of Woods' 79 career PGA Tour victories, including his most recent worldwide victory back in 2013 when he won by seven shots. He has not played the invitation-only event since withdrawing in 2014 because of injury.

That's also the last time that Woods played in any of the four WGC events.

Woods had stated for several weeks that he hoped to return to Firestone this summer, given that the tournament will permanently shift to TPC Southwind in Memphis beginning next year. While he had the option to play next week's RBC Canadian Open to bolster his world ranking, Woods reiterated in recent weeks that his status for Akron would simply hinge on his performance in The Open.

"One of my goals is to get into Akron one last time before we leave there," Woods said at The Players Championship in May. "I've won there eight times and I'd love to get there with one more chance."

Speaking to reporters after a final-round 71, Woods explained that he thought he needed a top-4 finish to qualify and had fallen short. Instead, his 5-under total and best finish in a major since the 2013 Open at Muirfield proved to be just enough.

Woods will now take a week off before teeing it up in Akron Aug. 2-5, followed by an appearance the following week at the PGA Championship at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis.

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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.

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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.

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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.