Entries in Rory McIlroy (55)


Newsday (N.Y.): Rory Mcllroy is in contention at British Open despite double bogey

By Art Spander
Special to Newsday

TROON, Scotland — After others, especially those involved with Great Britain’s Olympic team, had taken their shots at him, verbal of course, Rory McIlroy on Thursday took his shots at Royal Troon in the British Open, the golfing kind. With one exception, they were effective.

In his first Open Championship round in two years — the winner in 2014, he missed 2015 because of an ankle injury — McIlroy shot a two-under 69. But for one 6 iron hit too well, he would have been further under.

Read the full story here.

Copyright © 2016 Newsday. All rights reserved.


Global Golf Post: McIlroy Leaves Without A Word

By Art Spander
Global Golf Post

OAKMONT, PENNSYLVANIA — He had telegraphed his feelings clearly upon arrival. "I'm obviously excited to be here," Rory McIlroy told us a few days earlier at Oakmont. But now after missing the cut he wasn't saying anything other than, "I'm not talking."

Read the full story here.

Copyright 2016 Global Golf Post


McIlroy looking at Masters numbers, not names

By Art Spander

AUGUSTA, Ga. — It’s a game where you hope to have control of yourself but understand you have no control over your opponents. In golf, you may be your own worst enemy. Or best friend.

“I don’t really look at the names on the left of the leaderboard,” said Rory McIlroy, who is one of those names. “I’m looking at the number to see how many shots I’m back.”

It was six shots after eight holes of the second round of this 80th Masters on Friday. And even though he wasn’t looking at the name, the rest of us couldn’t help but look, because it belonged to the defending champion, Jordan Spieth.

Six shots behind Spieth, who was sweeping over Augusta National like the chill wind that blew in from the west. Then, whoosh, like that, one shot.

“The comfortable thing for me,” said McIlroy, “is knowing that even if you are five or six shots back, things can change quite quickly. I’ve been on the opposite end where things can start to get away from you.”

The opposite end, the failure, the collapse, the round that leaves the golfer shaken and the critics gasping and harping.

Five years ago, at the 2011 Masters, McIlroy, the Northern Irishman, was in front after three days of well-played golf. Then he shot 80, eight over par, and tumbled so far, into a tie for 15th. To this day, he still lacks a Masters victory to complete the cycle of wins in all four majors.

“But that gives me confidence,” said McIlroy of closing the gap, “knowing that if you are a little bit behind, you can definitely make a comeback.”

After two rounds in a tournament that in a few hours went from decided to dramatic, he is only a stroke behind. He shot one-under 71 to Spieth’s 74. He is at three-under 141 to Spieth’s four-under 140. Change so quickly, McIlroy insisted.

Spieth was eight under, then after the 18th four under. McIlroy was one under after his eighth and three under after the 18th.

“You know,” said McIlroy, “unless someone is playing exceptionally well and really distances themselves from the field, everything sort of evens out.”

That’s the joy of golf. And the agony. There are no sure things, no playing safe, running the fullback up the middle, walking the cleanup hitter with nobody on so he can’t hurt you. In golf, you hurt yourself.

Didn’t Greg Norman begin the final round in 1996 six shots in front and finish second to Nick Faldo by five shots? Didn’t Jeff Maggert lead by two shots after three rounds in 2003 and end up fifth, five back of winner Mike Weir?

“You’re always going to make mistakes here and there,” said McIlroy, “and it all evens out at the end of the week ... A lot can happen.”

A lot happened to Spieth on this day when the sun shone but the temperature never made it out of the 60s — but unfortunately for their scoring, too many of the players did. Nobody in the top 10, Spieth, McIlroy, Danny Lee, Brandt Snedeker, Sergio Garcia or the rest, broke 70.

“It’s Augusta National,” reminded McIlroy, as if any of us needed reminding, “and in conditions like this, with pin positions the way they were, it was tough, and I just needed to stay patient.”

McIlroy is only a month from his 27th birthday, but he is wise beyond his years, especially about the game that is his business. He’s won a U.S. Open, in record fashion, a British Open and two PGA Championships. He’s stumbled here deep in the Georgia pines. He’s handled the triumphs and defeats like a gentleman, every bit as impressive as his 320-yard tee shots.

“I want to win this golf tournament,” said McIlroy, “and I want to finish on the lowest score possible, and whoever is ahead of me, I just want to finish one shot better.”

One shot, the margin by which he how trails the leader. One shot, which can be the result of his own birdie or a bogey by the man whom he had trailed.

McIlroy had been No. 1 in the world rankings but now is No. 3, behind Jason Day and Spieth. In theory, they constitute what so many of us at the moment call the Big Three of golf.

“I can’t get wrapped up in that and buy into the Big Three,” said McIlroy. “Of course it’s great for the game, but when I’m out there playing and competing that’s absolutely not what I should be thinking about.

“I should be concentrating on myself and thinking about what I need to do to win this golf tournament, regardless of who else is up there.”

Which, of course, is the only way to beat everyone else who is up there.

10:40PM Open a chance to see how good the pros are

By Art Spander

NAPA, Calif. — So it isn’t Augusta National. Or Pebble Beach. Still, Silverado is a wonderful, little and now historic country club course that enables amateurs who play it to have a decent round — and also to appreciate just how good the touring pros are. If they didn’t previously.

That slogan, “These Guys Are Good,” has outlasted its shelf life in this world of constant revision, but indeed these guys are good — very good, low-60s good. Because three rounds into this Open, everyone high on the leader board has a round in the mid to low 60s.

Saturday’s guy was Andrew Loupe, who shot a nine-under-par 63. That’s one off the course record. And the same that Brendan Steele shot Thursday. Or one better than Kevin Na and Jason Bohn shot on Saturday.

Steele, as he has been from the first round, was in first with a 63-70-69—202, 14 under par. Loupe and Na, at 203, not only share second but the distinction of being arguably the two slowest players on the Tour. A year ago, Johnny Miller, who now owns a fraction of Silverado (and won here twice in the 1970s), told his NBC-TV audience about Loupe, “If everyone on Tour played like him, I’d stop commenting.”

Johnny hasn’t stopped, meaning perhaps Loupe has sped up his routine — he once took seven practice swings — or Miller has become more tolerant.

There are a ton of players, eight to be specific, tied for fourth at 204. That group includes Justin Rose, Harold Varner III and Graham DeLaet, but it does not include Rory McIlroy, the Irishman trying to get back the lead in the world golf rankings. McIlroy is at 210, eight shots back after a second straight 71, and tied for 39th. Yes, 39th.

In addition, he nearly got skulled while on the green of the short (375-yard) 17th, reachable by long hitters who cut a dogleg where oak trees flourish. “Missed me by a couple of inches," said McIlroy. “Would have put me out of misery.”

He’s joking. McIlroy, who is third in the rankings behind Jordan Spieth and Jason Day, neither of whom is here in the opening event of the 2015-16 Tour, flew Tuesday from his home. He was obligated to enter after receiving an exemption of three years to skip the event and hoped it would give him a jump-start instead of waiting until February or March.

“I came here with the intention of trying to play well,” said McIlroy, who splits his time between the European and PGA Tours. “I’m here. I might as well give it my best shot.”

Loupe, 26, was born and resides in Baton Rouge. Yes, he graduated from LSU, in sports administration. Yes, he sped off after the round to watch the LSU-Florida game. “I love ’em,” he said when someone asked about the Tigers.

He also had to love a round of 31-32—63 that included 10 birdies and one bogey. “It was a fabulous day,” affirmed Loupe. Also one that didn’t take as long as some feared.

Steele, who’s from the little community of Idyllwild in the mountains above Palm Springs, gave a few clichés and, smart fellow that he is — a UC Riverside grad — conceded they were clichés.

“Sundays are tough,” said Steele about the final round. “Fridays when you’re hanging around the cut line and Sundays when you’re in the lead, those are the two toughest times. That’s when the character comes out.

“Any Sunday you’re in good position, you feel like every shot is important. You have to try the best you can. I mean, all the super cliché phrases, one shot at a time, and stick to the process and all that stuff. But it’s true. They are clichés for a reason.”

Steele is in first for a reason. He’s made only four bogeys in 54 holes, three Friday and one Saturday, the latter on the tricky, uphill eighth hole. “I can’t control what the other guys are going.”

That’s both the best and worst part of golf. There’s no defense. There’s the opportunity to shoot a terrific round. At Silverado, a course basically for amateurs, the pros have been shooting one terrific round after another. Those guys are good.


Brendan Steele, down the mountain and up Fry’s golf leader board

By Art Spander

NAPA, Calif. — So it’s the first tournament of the new PGA Tour season Thursday and on his sixth hole of the round — the 15th, since he began at the 10th — Brendan Steele already has four birdies and has playing partner Steve Wheatcroft shaking his head.

“I made like three 20-footers in a row,” Steele said almost apologetically, “and he was like, ‘Just hang in there, it’s a long season. You’ll make one eventually.’” Oh those pros, determined to get under your skin, as well as under par.

On this first day of the wrap-around 2015-16 season, Steele was way under, minus-nine, a 63 at Silverado Country Club’s North Course, atop the leader board but only by a shot over Jhonhattan Vegas. Another shot back, at 65, is Harold Varner III, who Tuesday talked about being one of the few African-Americans on the Tour.

The big guns had big days. Justin Rose was among those at 67. And a satisfied Rory McIlroy shot 68, saying, “It definitely was a step in the right direction.” But the biggest day was Steele’s, a 29 on the back, a 34 on the front that included birdies on holes 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18 and without anything worse than a par.

“It’s always hard to just to have a solid nine,” Steele philosophized, “after you shoot six, seven-under on one side.” He’s 33, a golfer despite growing up in the mountains southwest of Palm Springs, in Idyllwild, where the nearest course was in the desert town of Hemet, 22 miles of winding road distant.

Brendan was a baseball and soccer kid until visiting his half-brother, who lived at Newport Beach and played golf. “I wanted to do everything my big brother did,” said Steele.

Steele’s father, Kent, an attorney who had escaped the hassle of Beverly Hills and Los Angeles, a hundred miles down I-10, put up a net and dug out a bunker in the backyard of their home. “That’s sort of where I learned to play,” said Steele.

Then he would ride buses, leaving at 5:45 a.m. from Idyllwild, elevation 5,600 feet, to Hemet High, at the 1,200 foot level. “I started when I was 13,” said Steele, “so pretty late for PGA Tour players, but I just fell in love with the game and found a way to get in some practice when I could.”

Steele played for UC Riverside, not too far from Hemet, graduating in 2005 with a degree in business. He qualified for the Tour in 2011 and with his wife, Anastassia, moved to Irvine in Orange County, where there are no mountains but dozens of courses and one airport, John Wayne.

“I didn't think much of it at the time,” said Steele, referring to his mother and father’s drives up and down what he refers to as “the hill” to take him to and from golf practice. “I just thought that’s what parents do. Looking back, it’s a pretty big sacrifice they made.”

All sports require sacrifice of some sort whether it’s a mom hauling a kid — think of Kutida Woods, Tiger’s mother — or a kid spending hours hitting baseballs or golf balls. Or jump shots.

“I’m doing a lot of things that I didn’t do before,” said Steele, “and kind of understanding how to play better.”

What McIlroy, the Irishman who is No. 3 in the world, understands is if you want to be high in the Tour’s FedEx Cup standings as well as the Euro Tour’s Race To Dubai, you have to be competing. He said because he didn’t enter events in America until March, he felt he was playing catch-up.

Now he’s in at the start, and he believes he's in for some good times as well as very good golf.

“I’ve never been to this area before,” he said of the Napa Valley, maybe 60 miles north of San Francisco — where in May McIlroy took the Cadillac match play. “You can see why everyone is so relaxed. Beautiful weather, a lot of stuff to do away from the golf course. Trying to find a balance between enjoying myself this week and still trying to play well. Yeah, it’s a great event. I’m obviously very happy to be here.”

Brendan Steele, the man who came down the mountain, would second the motion.