USGA Takes Down Some Of Erin Hills' Fescue Rough, Rory Says "Really?"

As I note in this item for Golfweek.com, the USGA agronomist is suggesting this is not motivated by player complaints, but instead by the possibility of upcoming rains causing dense fescues to lay over.

"It would be unplayable," USGA agronomist Darin Brevard told Golfdom.

While a case could be made that the grasses were already unplayable in spots, allowing them to have gotten to such a point of density is another matter. At a course where the meticulous maintenance attention-to-detail is so utterly impressive, it's hard to understand how the prairie grasses were allowed to get so dense.

Either way, as my item notes, Rory was not pleased. But I'm happy for the marshals who may have fewer lost ball scares on the holes effected. And it's not like the 4-inches of dense fescue left behind will be a cakewalk.

Forbes: Rory 7th Among Athletes, Ahead Of Phil, Tiger, Jordan

As always take these numbers with a grain or two, but at least we see where golfers are lining up with the highest paid athletes.

Rory McIlroy landed T6th on the Forbes list at $50 million, tied with Andrew Luck and ahead of Steph Curry. The year comes on the heels of winning the FedExCup and finishing fifth in the Race To Dubai. His $16 million in on course earnings accounts for his 2016 PGA Tour play, FedExCup and European Tour play in the June 2016 to June 2017 window used by Forbes.

Phil Mickelson ranked 12th, with $43.5 million overall, of which $40 million was from off course endorsements. Tiger Woods at No. 17 is credited with $37.1 million of which $37 million was made off the course. And Jordan Spieth ranked 21st, making $34.5 million, with $29 million of that credited to endorsement income.

Nicklaus Blames WD's On Entourages, Money

AP's Doug Ferguson reports on Jack Nicklaus's pre-Memorial remarks on player withdrawals due to injuries.

Asked about Rory McIlroy's entry into the 2017 Memorial only to WD to rest an injured rib, Nicklaus said...

“You think I had any injuries when I played? Do you think Arnold had any injuries when he played? Do you think Gary had any injuries when he played? How many tournaments do you think that we entered that we withdrew from during the course of our career?” Nicklaus said.

He put his forefinger to his thumb to signal zero.

“Never entered if I wasn’t going to play,” Nicklaus said.

After mentioning the money in the game, there was this gem about entourages.

“Would they withdraw back 30 years ago? Probably not, because that wasn’t the norm,” Nicklaus said. “We played through it. We had a ton of injuries and I played through it. But that’s sort of the norm today. And the guys … I made my own decisions. I didn’t have an entourage. I didn’t have a fitness trainer. I didn’t have a nutritionist, whatever you all have, somebody to cut my toenails in the morning.

Zing!

"I didn’t have any of that. I did that myself.

“I think that entourage helps make that decision for the player, telling them, ‘We think physically this is probably not right for you to play.’ And that’s what their job is,” Nicklaus said.

Rory Teases New Driver On Verge Of Announcing Mega TaylorMade Deal

Golfweek's Forecaddie reported it and I can confirm: Rory McIlroy is becoming a member of Team TaylorMade this week. He'll be signing a huge money deal to play a full bag of their equipment. While adding another huge contract to the Taylor Made payroll will get plenty of attention, the signing is also a reminder that parent company Adidas is still attempting to sell the brand. Will signing Rory excite excite a buyer?

Rory's post...

Back on the range and ready for next week's @theplayerschamp 🏌️⛳️

A post shared by Rory McIlroy (@rorymcilroy) on May 7, 2017 at 12:00pm PDT

 

Urgent Rory-Wedding Music Plea: Not Coldplay!

I have no problem admitting I own Coldplay music and certainly understand, barring a reunion of Rory buds One Direction, they would be a huge get for the McIlroy-Stoll nuptials.

Ivan Little details those wedding plans for the Belfast Telegraph, set for Saturday at the beautiful Ashford Castle.

The Sun is reporting that Coldplay is the musical choice and while I have every reason to doubt that publication, I'm going to give them the benefit and assume the bride and groom will be serenaded by Yellow, Clocks and, gulp, Viva La Vida.

Rory you've had him perform at your foundation dinner. Furthermore, Have I Told You Lately that Someone Like You is moving Into The Mystic with this marriage, living on the Bright Side of The Road and most of all, marrying a Brown-Eyed Girl? So for this Wild Night of Crazy Love, there is only one man for this wedding: Van Morrison.

I know, the kids will wonder who that cranky old geezer is cranking out the tunes, but you know Van and the band can still bring it.

If nothing else, my suggestion was better than Feinstein's. (He apparently thinks you are marrying the daughter of a Long Island hedge fund billionaire.)

Greg Norman Resurfaces To Defend Rory's Round With Trump, Talk More About Himself

Thanks to reader LC for this BBC interview with Greg Norman explaining why Rory McIlroy was right to accept President Donald Trump's invitation to play golf. Apparently this was a placeholder discussion as we await Norman's Q3 plans to revolutionize the game.

More mesmerizing is Norman recounting the story he's told many times about not wanting to golf with Bill Clinton, only to have President George Bush set him straight. Norman admits to that round changing his perspective of Clinton and even becoming friends with the former president.

Why that experience didn't stop Norman from suggesting more than once that President Barack Obama was playing a "hefty" amount of golf, is a mystery. Or worse, hinting Obama's supposedly flippant approach to keeping score was the sign of character issues. Or the Shark weighing in on any of this!

Here is Shark at Fox and Friends sharing his enthusiasm for President Trump's efforts to get the economy going. The Shark's excited about rollbacks in regulations he sees helping the golf course design industry, but still no announcement on his efforts to disrupt the game...until Q3 when they "go to market" with whatever the mystery product is.

 

McGinley On Rory Backlash: "This is not a noise you really want to have."

Rory McIlroy ably defended himself during his Tuesday press conference in Mexico City, yet seems to be on the ropes concerning his golf round with President Donald Trump.

Brian Keogh reports the comments of Paul McGinley, who points out that McIlroy has not played well when facing criticism, is nonetheless befuddled by the anger expressed on social media toward McIlroy.

"I think it is disappointing that this noise doesn’t seem to be abating, looking at his press conference yesterday again. It dominated his press conference again, and in preparation for the Masters, this is not a noise you really want to have.

"He will be focussing on his injury, focussing on his game. He has walked into a storm, and I certainly won’t be critical of him, but I think it has taken him by surprise, and it has taken a lot of people by surprise, the vitriol that he has received.

"He was in a no-win situation, and that's the problem. When you get asked by the President of the United States to go and play a game of golf, it's very hard to say no."

Twitter...Give And Take Files: Rory And Brandel At It Again

They last manspatted almost a year ago over the purpose of Rory's conditioning work and given the recent injury news, it's a tad surprising McIlroy is pushing back at Chamblee's assertion that the best players hit down on the ball.

Maybe Chamblee's Twitter reminder upon this week's injury news started the latest squabble?

Anyway, McIlroy counters that they hit up on the ball and given what Trackman tells us, and the way Rory drives the ball, his pushback Tweets made sense.

Of course, this is reminscent of the days when Jack Nicklaus used to feud with Jim Flick over backswing footwork, or when Lee Trevino once nearly came to blows with Harvey Penick over the true meaning of Take Dead Aim. Just kidding!

For The Win's Luke Kerr-Dineen on the latest flare up.

Rory's measured reply to the photo analyzed by Chamblee:

McIlroy's young online army declared an 8&7 win and came through with some fun GIFs. This took the prize:

Dr: Minimum Of Six Weeks To Heal For Injury Like McIlroy's

Golf Channel's Matt Adams spoke with an orthopedic surgeon who has served as an independent examiner for the NFL and who says Rory McIlroy's stress fracture is extremely rare for a golfer.

More ominous is his prescription for recovery and healing.

“They are typical in rowing or upper body weight bearing athletes,” Kunkel said. “Stress fractures are caused by an accumulation of micro-trauma. They are tiny fractures or cracks in the bone. Usually the body just heals them. If you do not give it time to heal, it can result in a full fracture. Typically, an injury of this sort will take a minimum of six weeks to heal.”

Kunkel noted that the only way to ensure that an injury of this nature does not reoccur is to stop engaging in the activity that caused the injury and to strengthen the muscles around the core and spine.

“The modern golf swing is hard on the body,” he said. "To have athletes in their 20s experiencing these types of injuries is very concerning for the long-term.”

Dr. Ara Suppiah explains more in this Golf Central phone call with Lisa Cornwell:

Rory's HSBC WD Will Seriously Alter Pre-Masters Plans

Talk about a kickabout to Rory McIlroy's pre-Masters preparation plan.

While his beloved downtime activity of gym time is something Rory McIlroy credits for his ascension, his rib stress fracture was blamed on excessive club testing over the holidays. However, the gym work will be questioned after the almost-World-No.-1-again has WD'd from the HSBC Championship and perhaps other pre-Masters events.

Brian Keogh writes at the Irish Golf Desk:

The Northern Irishman underwent extensive clinical examinations on Monday after picking up the injury in South Africa last week and will now commence rehabilitation and return to golf when he is fully recovered from the stress fracture.

He said: “It’s bitterly disappointing to have to withdraw from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. I think everyone knows how much I love playing this tournament, which is one of the best on the European Tour thanks to the incredible support of HSBC and the Abu Dhabi Sports Council."

Last year, McIlroy discussed the injury-prevention intentions of his workout regimen, which was detailed here by Brian Wacker at PGATour.com, who sat in on the Men's Health cover shoot.

"I think from the start of 2011, the direct correlation between leading a healthier lifestyle and my performance on the course was the same.

"Obviously I'm trying to be strong, but the whole reason I started this is because I was injured."

Storm Wins On Patrick Reed Lifeline; Rory To Have MRI

The European Tour's 2017 kicked off in wild fashion with 38-year-old Graeme Storm edging Rory McIlroy in a three-hole playoff.

As James Corrigan writes for the Telegraph, Storm thought he'd lost his card in October after a final hole bogey and by just €100, only to receive a lifeline from Patrick Reed. Now Storm's holding the SA Open trophy and all of the perks that come with winning.

But then the American Patrick Reed failed to fulfill the minimum number of events when skipping the Final Series and so Storm was handed a reprieve. And there he was, at the Glendower Country Club near Johannesburg, captilasing on his second chance in one of the most gutsy scenarios imaginable.

To win just the second title of his career – following up his French Open a decade later - and in the process ensure he retains his Tour playing privileges for at least two years was the stuff of fantasy. But to do so when going head-to-head with McIlroy, the world No 2 and winner of four majors, was, in his words, “totally unbelievable”.

The news was tempered by Rory McIlroy's upper back issues. With a chance to retake the World No. 1 spot in Abu Dhabi this week, he's headed for an MRI machine in Dubai.

“It was manageable this week with tape and a few pill, but it’s not 100 per cent.

"Part of me really wants to make this week because there is so much to play for with world No 1 on the line. But at the same time there is so much to play for over the whole season and I don’t want to jeopardise long-term goals for short-term gain. Hopefully, I’ll be good to go.”

Despite the pain, McIlroy uncorked some stunning tee shots, including a 392-yarder to open the week. The European Tour compiled this collection of tee balls of McIlroy and his new Epic driver:

 

 

All of the three-hole playoff shots in under five minutes, courtesy of the European Tour:

 

 

Rory: "I hate that term 'growing the game'...golf was here long before we were, and it's going to be here long after we're gone."

Part 1 of Rory McIlroy's open and engaging chat with the Independent On Sunday's Paul Kimmage is worth a read, and while his comments about the Olympics got most of the attention, the grow-the-game views and his comments on Tiger stood out.

On the Olympics, he explains himself well and, in hindsight, probably would not have had to wheel out Zika if he'd just said what he tells Kimmage. Then again, his grow the game remarks might have gotten him a lecture from Mssrs Dawson and Finchem.

RM: Well, I'd had nothing but questions about the Olympics - 'the Olympics, the Olympics, the Olympics' - and it was just one question too far. I'd said what I needed to say. I'd got myself out of it, and it comes up again. And I could feel it. I could just feel myself go 'Poom!' and I thought: 'I'm going to let them have it.'

PK: (Laughs)

RM: Okay, I went a bit far. But I hate that term 'growing the game'. Do you ever hear that in other sports? In tennis? Football? 'Let's grow the game'. I mean, golf was here long before we were, and it's going to be here long after we're gone. So I don't get that, but I probably went a bit overboard.

PK: They were goading you.

RM: Yeah, but maybe I shouldn't have reacted in the way that I did. But Olympic golf to me doesn't mean that much - it really doesn't. I don't get excited about it. And people can disagree, and have a different opinion, and that's totally fine. Each to their own.

PK: There was a lot of blow-back for you afterwards. When you were asked about it after the opening round you said: "I've spent seven years trying to please everyone and I figured out that I really can't do that, so I may as well be true to myself."

RM: Yeah, I mean when it was announced (that golf was to be an Olympic sport) in 2009 or whatever, all of a sudden it put me in a position where I had to question who I am. Who am I? Where am I from? Where do my loyalties lie? Who am I going to play for? Who do I not want to piss off the most? I started to resent it. And I do. I resent the Olympic Games because of the position it put me in - that's my feeling towards it - and whether that's right or wrong, it's how I feel.

Ok, so we won't pencil you in for Tokyo 2020.

As for the tired "grow the game" phrase, it's wonderful to see a player single it out.

May I propose "sustain the game," which would allow McIlroy and others not look hypocritical when working to inspire kids to take up the game, something he clearly enjoys. Because we know the "grow" is merely a product of fear that the numbers have, gasp, flatlined.

On Tiger:

RM: I’m drawn to him, yeah. He’s an intriguing character because you could spend two hours in his company and see four different sides to him. When he’s comfortable and he trusts you — and his trust (sensitivity) is way (higher) than mine — he’s great. He’s thoughtful. He’s smart. He reads. He can’t sleep so that’s all he does — he reads stuff and educates himself on everything. But he struggles to sleep, which I think is an effect of overtraining, so I tell him to calm down sometimes. He’d be texting me at four o’clock in the morning: ‘Up lifting. What are you doing?’

PK: Really?

RM: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

He's never dull!

Rory On Tiger: "He looked happy"

Brian Keogh reports on the remarks of Rory McIlroy speaking at Monday's Excellence in Sport Awards in support of the Irish Youth Foundation in Dublin.

Say what you want about Tiger--and many have--but this comment from McIlroy is the most important big picture observation from last week's Hero World Challenge.

“Anytime we saw him on a golf course in the last couple of years he had the furrowed brow and he has been so concentrated.

“But  he looked happy so obviously that tells you he has been away and he has come back out happy and he is in a better place.”

Keogh's item also explores the prospects of which players might play in the Irish Open two weeks prior to The Open.