Brandel: Koepka Was "Disrespectful" Toward McIlroy

I was hoping for something less level-headed, but Brooks Koepka’s good buddy Brandel Chamblee makes a solid case in refuting the World No. 1’s recent remarks. Saying he’s added “fuel to a rivalry that definitely exists,” Chamblee convinced me that Koepka’s “he hasn’t won a major in five years” jab was, in fact, disrespectful when viewed through the context of golf greats.

Rory Blasts European Tour Course Setups: “I’m sort of honestly sick of coming back over to the European Tour and shooting 15 under par and finishing 30th"

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Some illuminating comments from Rory McIlroy coming off a fun week at the Alfred Dunhill Links, where, after nearly winning the pro-am with his dad, Gerry, the 30-year-old bemoaned the lack of difficulty found on European Tour setups. While he sounds a tad bitter largely with the Scottish Open setup earlier this year, this comments also speak to just how hard it is to find a course setup balance in the juiced equipment era.

From John Huggan’s GolfDigest.com report at the Dunhill:

“I’m sort of honestly sick of coming back over to the European Tour and shooting 15 under par and finishing 30th,” said McIlroy, who has played only four “regular” European Tour events (non-major and non-WGC tournaments) this season. At the Dunhill, McIlroy posted scores of 70-66-70-67 yet finished seven back of winner Victor Perez.

“I don’t think the courses are set up hard enough,” McIlroy said. “There are no penalties for bad shots. It’s tough when you come back and it’s like that. I don’t feel like good golf is regarded as well as it could be. It happened in the Scottish Open at Renaissance. I shot 13 under and finished 30th [actually T-34] again. It’s not a good test. I think if the European Tour wants to put forth a really good product, the golf courses and setups need to be tougher.”

While McIlroy sounds like he’s justifying his decision to play more in the U.S., the comments serve as a reminder that players want to be challenged and for their skill to shine. As the game becomes increasingly less interesting to play when players feel untested or fans sense a give-and-take between player and course is entirely in the player’s favor, there may be a range of consequences. The most obvious being a less interesting sport to watch.

In this case, McIlroy made clear the combination of setups and travel will keep him sticking largely to the PGA Tour.

“It’s been a great year,” McIlroy continued. “I’ve won big events and I've consistently played well. Every week I show up and I shoot good scores and play good golf. If I continue to do that, I’ll be in a good spot. I don't want to travel that much anymore. I’ve done it for 12 years. I want to have easy flights and not have to go across eight, nine time zones and have to get acclimatized. I’m happy to do what I’ve done this year.”

Rory: If Tennis Can Hand Out Penalties For Slow Play, So Can Golf

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The Rory McIlroy news from Wentworth has, so far, been mixed: he’s retaining his European Tour card after some negotiation with Chief Executive Keith Pelley (good), he opened the BMW PGA with a 76 (bad).

But as Rex Hoggard reports for GolfChannel.com, his comments on slow play add to the list of strong remarks by top players advocating penalty strokes for slow pokes. While that may not seem earth-shattering, the recent shift of players advocating penalty strokes is a change from years of players protecting slow pokes and muttering nonsense about field size.

The U.S. Open’s recent penalty of a lost point after a third violation by Rafa Nadal, got McIlroy’s attention:

Like many Tour players, McIlroy sees a reluctance to penalize players in high-profile situations and used last month’s U.S. Open in tennis and Rafael Nadal’s timing violation during a match as an example of what golf needs to embrace.

“Rafa got a time clock violation on a really big serve like at the end of the final of the U.S. Open, so if they can do it then, there's no reason why we can't do it in our tournaments, either,” McIlroy said. “It's just a matter of enforcing it and being consistent with it.”

Rory Hoping This Rivalry Is Finally The One

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There is plenty of great stuff from the latest Rory McIlroy podcast with Carson Daly in the latest installment of his Golfpass contributions.

Golfweek’s Roxanna Scott highlights his comments on creating a rivalry to raise his game at the 2019 Tour Championship.

Finally, it seems maybe McIlroy has met his rivalry match after years of flirtations.

Brooks has been undoubtedly the best player in the world for the last couple years. I’ve been lucky that my career and my consistency level has been good for the last 10,” McIlroy said. “I feel like they’ve tried to create a rivalry between myself and Tiger, myself and Jordan (Spieth), myself and Dustin (Johnson), myself and Brooks, myself and Jason Day.

“It’s nice there’s a common denominator and it’s usually me, which means that I’m doing something right.”

As for the rivalry mindset, this was interesting:

“I needed that mentality going into East Lake because, you know, there was a little bit of revenge in there. He talked about trying to be the dominant player in the game and that was said to me in the media and I said, ‘He’s going to have to go through me first.’

“If that’s both of our mentalities going forward, I think that’s good for the game.”

Daly responded, “I love that. That’s what you should say. If you didn’t say that, you’ve got a problem. As a fan, that’s what you want to see.”

You can listen to the Rory & Carson podcast wherever fine pods are given away for free. Here is the iTunes store link.

McIlroy Closes Our 2018-19 Season In Grand Fashion And Now Mercifully We Don't Have To Hear About The FedExCup For A Month!

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The Tour Championship was mostly a fantastic culmination to the season—unless you had a brush with death Saturday as a few people did including one poor young lad knocked unconscious who can’t get on a plane back to Northern Ireland. and I believe I speak for most who are very pleased to see the FedExCup season over.

The marketing gurus will love all the mentions, impressions and other measurements to justify the shipping corporation’s huge spend. But judging by social and most fans, there is an exhaustion level of hearing about this important competition that sadly will make many happy to see the PGA Tour go away for a while.

Not to worry, the big boys will be back in action a month from now.

In the meantime, Rory McIlroy won the Tour Championship and $15 million, capping off a sensational season outside of a few bad days in the majors.

As Steve DiMeglio writes for Golfweek, the numbers show McIlroy doing it with both his driving prowess and incredible short game play (second in SG scrambling for the week).

While the money is nice, Rory sounds like he was most tickled by facing down Brooks Koepka and prevailing with ease, writes Brian Wacker.

Bob Harig dug deeper into McIlroy’s dominating performance where he started the event five back of Justin Thomas for those still keeping track at home. As Ryan Herrington explains, McIlroy would have won this one under any format.

Koepka chalked the day up to not feeling comfortable, writes Dan Kilbridge.

Joel Beall declared the new format a success though it still has some loopholes.

The threat of runaway winner endures under the new format; the 10-under pre-tournament leader starting 65-65 as No. 2, 3 and 4 falter would produce a snoozer. And as much as cash is supposed to be the storyline, it continues to be a disconnect with fan.

What exists is not perfect. But it is a notion acknowledged by officials and players.

“It's been an evolution since Day 1,” Rose said. “We're trying to figure it out.

Remember, it was the players who signed off on this scoring chassis, and although not universal—count McIlroy as one of its early week detractors—many cited the conversion of points to strokes as a positive.

As for the near-disaster Saturday, the PGA Tour issued this statement updating the welfare of those injured and the all important ShotLink equipment damaged.

Updated PGA TOUR Statement, 9 a.m., Sunday

The Atlanta Police Department and Atlanta Fire and Rescue have confirmed that five individuals were injured and transported to nearby hospitals; a sixth person was treated and released at the scene.  All were released from the hospital last night.

The safety and well-being of our fans and players is our highest priority, and we were with those being treated until they were released from area hospitals.  We are deeply grateful that the injuries were not more serious, and we’re proud of the collective efforts of the on-site team to quickly care for our fans during this frightening incident. 

Furthermore, late yesterday afternoon, officials were brought on site to assess the integrity of the pine tree that was struck and determined it to be safe. Additionally, several pieces of ShotLink equipment were damaged by the lightning and were replaced overnight. 

The lone comment from PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan came during the 18th green trophy ceremony and was met by lukewarm applause. Hopefully a more comprehensive response and plan of action will be forthcoming.

If you weren’t watching here are Rory’s final round highlights:

Rory Asks Rhetorically Of FedExCup Finale: Is This Really The Best Way?

Rory McIlroy, holder of 13 top 10 finishes in 18 starts, two of the more prestigious non-major titles in golf and unofficial title of 2019’s most consistent player week to week, is entitled to be a little annoyed with his fifth place FedExCup status.

McIlroy had his usually wise take on big picture items, not surprising since he’s one of the few players who will step back and ponder questions beyond his game or life. Brian Wacker reports for GolfDigest.com on McIlroy’s doubts about, well anything related to this reimagined FedExCup finale at East Lake, aka the Tour Championship.

“If the FedEx Cup really wants to have this legacy in the game, like some of these other championships do, is people starting the tournament on different numbers the best way to do it?” he said.

Of course not.

He also brought up the increase in overall winner’s take, to $15 million.

“One of the things that I’ve talked about over the past couple of years is I don’t think the money needs to be front and center, because I don’t think that's what the fans care about,” he said. “Players might care about it, and we want to be rewarded and paid for what we do. But at the same time, competitively, it’s not about that. It’s about trying to win golf tournaments.”

And that he will do, just starting five strokes back before he puts his peg in the East Lake grounds.

Rory Happy With Scottish Open Play, Heads To Portrush The Betting Favorite

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The punters have Rory McIlroy at 8-1 or so, the only single-digit price on the current OddsChecker board totaling all of the UK betting houses.

And while he wasn’t ashamed of his 67-67-68-69, the pushover that Renaissance Club proved wasn’t quite the exacting links test some might have wanted. Though McIlroy says he just wanted “a scorecard in his hand” and while it was unsaid, he surely wanted to arrive at Portrush late enough to cut down on the amount of “Rory” screams he will hear all week (with the best intent of course).

From Alistair Tait’s Golfweek report:

“All I wanted to do was get a scorecard in my hand,” McIlroy said. “Doesn’t matter if the winning score is 20 under or 10 under or whatever. I just wanted to play four rounds of competitive golf. I’m going to do that this week and at least have a better idea of where my game is at heading into next week, instead of having a few weeks off and trying to figure it out once I get there.

Rory On USGA: "If they can’t redeem themselves at Pebble Beach, then there could be a problem.”

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The man who was said to be ready to boycott the U.S. Open but was not given a chance to deny that claim by a fellow player sounded much more forgiving today.

Speaking at the Memorial, Dave Shedloski reports McIlroy’s view of the USGA headed to Pebble Beach following last year’s setup issues at Shinnecock Hills.

“They’re trying to do as good a job as they can,” McIlroy, No. 4 in the world, said Wednesday at the Memorial Tournament. “And I think they’ll admit they’ve made a couple of mistakes over the last couple of years. Everyone does. And I think we should give them the chance to redeem themselves. If they can’t redeem themselves at Pebble Beach, then there could be a problem.”

Like a boycott?

Roundup Of McIlroy's Players Win: “I needed to show a lot of character out there”

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The 2019 Players finale was a doozy, with the finishing holes magically weeding out a fascinating mix of characters, as Steve DiMeglio notes in his Golfweek game story.

McIlroy explained his Saturday range session that ironed out issues with his driving, explains GolfChannel.com’s Will Gray.

For the aficionados of more rough to offset distance advances, this was not a poster child week. McIlroy was 2nd in strokes gained driving even as he was T49 in accuracy, hitting just 33 of 56 fairways.

His putting stats were also a tad misleading, as McIlroy was 45th in Strokes Gained putting, yet was T3 in putts per green in regulation. He hit 58 of 72 greens.

McIlroy gave several post round interviews, though none was as compelling as his Live From appearance. Here is all 15 minutes of it if you missed the show:

Rory Unveils New Hospital-Friendly Nike's And Everyone Wants His Shoe Bag

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With a new season means awkward photos of players in their new gear, showing off new clubs and writers pretending to be surprised by announcements they were told about in September.

Rory McIlroy posted the new shoes in what appears to be a Seamus golf-made shoe bag and judging by the comments on his post, most just wanted the bag. The shoes, eh, not so much.

Others posted on the shoe design, or lack thereof, and the themes were predictably focused on the medicinal qualities—i.e. nurse’s shoes—, the lawn-bowling friendliness of the new line and a surprising number of Cousin Eddie references! You know, in the Christmas Vacation holiday spirit that we are all in, even the cynical millennials of Instagram!

Here is one of the posts followed by the best of the comments sections from various posts of the shoes (I see another was taken down…).

Some highlights from the comment sections…

thelext Shuffleboard shoes.

rtmartinaz Paging Nurse Ratched

303michael When you've got a tee time at 9 but you gotta go be a nurse at 2.

new84man @jeffcolburn4 better if they have Velcro.

5m_madden Does @rorymcilroy have bad circulation or diabetes? Those are absolutely terrible.

seth_thomas Where can we get the shoes bag?! Wow. Fire. 🔥

rlab77 Not even an endorsement contract like Rory's could get this pair on my feet. The bag looks top notch though

prettyzach @handcuff11 Nike making footjoys now?

ken212525 They handed those out at local bowling alley last night. Rolled a 98

therealroymcavoy Air Griswold’s? Modeled after the gift from cousin Eddie? #superdope

majortimmy01 Pee wee Herman Shoes!

Rory's Back On The European Tour He Never Left, It Seems...

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The Forecaddie says Keith Pelley got on European Tour 1—or British Airways—and pitched Rory McIlroy on making sure to play four non-major/non-WGC events to retain his membership. With it, presuming Rory follows through, is the right to some day Captain a Ryder Cup team. Had he let his membership expire, no cart in Rory’s future and even more unnecessary drama than he’d already created.

It’s almost cinematic imaging Pelley—in somber black frames—pleading with Rory in his childhood home to find two events he hasn’t committed to!

Why Is Rory Escalating A Situation That Should Not Be A Situation?

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As Rory McIlroy digs in on his schedule change at the expense of the European Tour’s image, it’s hard not to wonder if something deeper is at the root of his plan to give up membership in 2019. The move will be a blow to the tour and if the rules are not changed, end his ability to ever drive a Ryder Cup cart.

Paul McGinley, former Ryder Cupper, European Tour board member and host of next year’s Irish Open at Lahinch—which Rory plans to skip—penned his thoughts. When you read McGinley’s case for McIlroy essentially creating this fuss over not wanting to commit to just two more events, McIlroy is either creating unnecessary drama or has another motive in play.

From McGinley’s Sky Sports piece, not even trying to make the case for the Irish, but for merely playing twice after August.

The FedExCup finishes in August next year, so you've got all of September, October, November and December where the PGA Tour is played in Malaysia, Korea and various other places.

Is Rory going to play in those rather than play in Dubai, where he has had unbelievable success and offers the exact same prize money as those events? Or is he just not going to play at all over the last four months?

We've already reduced the number of events players have to play on the European Tour from five down to four, just to make it easy for the guys, like Rory, who are playing a worldwide schedule.

McIlroy Retools Swing After U.S. Open Missed Cut, Shoots 64

Jordan Spieth and Zach Johnson leading understandably led Mike McAllister's PGATour.com roundup of day one at the Travelers, but one back is Rory McIlroy.

It seems the lad spent his post-U.S. Open performance further refining his seemingly-great swing to get back to a certain year, enabling him to work the ball both ways.

From an unbylined Reuters report:

“I’m trying to get back to the way I swung in 2010, 2011 and it’s sort of hard because my body’s changed quite a bit since then,” the 29-year-old, whose muscular frame now is a far cry from the scrawny teenager of days gone by, told reporters. 

“The feeling I have now is the feeling I had in the middle of 2009. 

“That’s basically what I did over the weekend. I got a feeling that really resonated and brought me back to a time when I was swinging really well, and sort of went with that feeling."

Okay so it's like 2009-11, but still fascinating that he'd drifted that far from his swing of seven years ago and that he could get it back in a weekend. 

Rory: USGA Overthinks Course Setup

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I can't say I agree with Rory McIlroy's assessment of recent U.S. Open course setups, but as Dan Kilbridge notes for Golfweek, the 2011 champion chimed in following a strong third round at Muirfield Village.

“I think the USGA thinks that we’re better than we actually are, if that makes sense,” McIlroy said. “I think they overthink it. I think that, and I don’t want to single out (USGA Executive Director) Mike Davis here, I think it’s a collective thought process. We were talking about this yesterday. They sort of, I don’t think it should be as much of an exact science to set up golf courses as it is. I mean, get the fairways sort of firm, grow the rough, put the pins in some tough locations, but fair, and let us go play.”

Ah if it were only that simple!

I certainly understand the player reaction to the Davis era of more variety and different questions being asked. Most have made the golf better to play and watch, with a few hiccups. 

But it's most intriguing to read McIlroy's example of overthinking setup, which may be a case of him overthinking just how much the USGA controls Mother Nature.

“It’s been a very reactionary few years to what happened at Chambers Bay,” McIlroy said. “I think they felt Chambers Bay was – Erin Hills was going to be similar to Chambers Bay. So they soaked it and made it really wide and all of a sudden 16 under par wins again and they’re like, um, what just happened? So I think they have to take previous results out of their head and just say, ‘Okay, let’s set up this golf course as best we can and just let the guys go play.'”

Rory Vaults Himself Into The Masters Discussion With Resounding API Win

Rory McIlroy entered the Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by Mastercard 124th in Strokes Gained Putting. He left Bay Hill 23rd in the category and also takes home a new red cardigan, a pile of cash and loads of confidence just two weeks from the Masters.

Golfweek's Dan Kilbridge with the nuts, bolts and quotes from Sunday's dynamic finale.

Ryan Lavner reminds us just how long it's been since McIlroy has won and what the victory means.

Eamon Lynch with lots more on Brad Faxon's putting lesson and contest with Rory earlier in the week that helped turn things around for McIlroy. 

Will Gray at GolfChannel.com with a fun Rory anecdote from a dinner with Arnie.

A fun comparison with Rory's 18th hole birdie putt to shoot 64 and one from Tiger's greatest hits collection:

No wonder that putt on 18 looked so familiar…

A post shared by PGA TOUR (@pgatour) on

Pulling off the Alpaca cardigan:

A perfect fit! 😁 #ArniesArmy

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The round four highlights from PGA Tour Entertainment:

Forecaddie: Rory #1 In Strokes Gained Putting After Lesson From Brad Faxon

The Bears Club, Brad Faxon, Rory McIlroy, a putting "meeting," and T11 heading into the weekend? The intrigue! The drama!

The Forecaddie with details that might explained how McIlroy has gained almost six shots (First in SG!) on the Arnold Palmer Invitational field with his balky putter.

This sounds like more than a simple meeting and given the looming Masters, the desperate times did call for something...

One immediate change McIlroy made this week after seeing Faxon was in the length of his putter. He is back to using a 34.25-inch model, the same as he used in winning his four majors. Kenyon had McIlroy using a 33-inch putter.

Rory: "It's not the ball, it's not the equipment, it's the people that have got more athletic and have more speed."

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A Sky Sports roundup at the Valspar Championship talks to European players commenting on the distance debate includes Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson, Paul Casey and Ian Poulter.

All downplay any issues for different reasons, but McIlroy's comments were of note given his views on equipment influences. 

"For me there's no concern. It's not the ball, it's not the equipment, it's the people that have got more athletic and have more speed.

"The guys train better, they know what they're doing more, they have Trackmans so they can figure out how to swing it fasters and be more efficient. It's not the golf balls, it's not the golf clubs, I think it's just fine the way it is."

So if the equipment is not a factor--a farcical statement but let's work with the theory--then what's the harm in tweaks to the rules for elite players to keep courses a sustainable distance?  

I'm not sure I understand the line of rhetorical questions posed by Rose:

"Is the golf ball going further? Yes. Are we stronger? Yes. Is it a problem? Golf isn't getting any easier for the amateur and it isn't getting much easier for the pro.

"Are we getting make some courses obsolete by the distances we're hitting? Yes, but then again great designed golf courses don't need to be long."

So they're obsolete, but the courses do not need to respond to a changing game?

Obsolete would imply they are outmoded and in need of replacement. 

Onward...

Must Read: Kimmage Chats With Harrington, McIlroy

Carve out a few minutes or Instapaper this Sunday Independent conversation moderated by Paul Kimmage and featuring Padraig Harrington and Rory McIlroy chatting.

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This is a nice teaser:

Harrington says: "We would like to spend more time with Rory in the evenings. But we have a very different way of preparing for tournaments. He likes to play early, I like to play late. I’m not prepared to do his thing, he’s not prepared to do mine. And that’s fine because when I was his age I would do nothing for nobody in terms of (making compromises). Everything was: ‘What was the best thing for me?’. . . I’m prepared to compromise now.”

And Harrington says that he prefers the version of McIlroy that he occasionally comes across in private to the public face.

"I wonder sometimes about how you present yourself to the world,” he says. “It always seems much colder than who you really are. I don’t think I’ve ever been in your company where I haven’t walked away thinking you’re a nicer guy than I thought beforehand. And yet, media-wise, you can sound quite cold and clinical at times and I think: ‘He’s trying to be Tiger Woods.’ Because you present this . . . wall."

Dubai Duties Free: Rory Spreads Host Role To Other Irishmen

There was a point you'd have to figure a player in their prime like Rory McIlroy would tire of the duties involved in hosting a professional tournament.

Thankfully for the Rory-rejuvenated Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, the host will be handing duties off to a rota of Irishmen. In some cases this could be problematic, but given the charisma of Paul McGinley, Padraig Harrington, Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell, the event should keep the momentum going. McIlroy's Foundation will still be the Irish Open's charitable beneficiary.

Brian Keogh reports for the Independent on what the move means for Rory's career thinking and includes this from 2019 host McGinley.

"He has certainly helped regain the momentum of the Irish Open and he has done his bit. He wants to remain involved going forward but the Irish Open was a weight of responsibility.

"Even though he has won it, he has missed the cut for four of the last five years. So while his commitment to playing will remain, it is a question of handing over responsibility and we are happy to take on the mantle.

"We owe Rory a lot for where the Irish Open has come from and where it is going. So it is only right that we take responsibility off Rory's shoulders and let him do what he does best."

One last request this year Rory before you hand things off: put that call into Tiger! He needs some links golf under his belt!

"Rory firm's $105m loss after rights write-down"

I haven't a clue what this means, but Gordon Deegan briefly explains why Rory McIlroy's in-house management firm took a massive $105.4 million (€88.3m) write down in 2017.

The paper loss stems from a non-cash writedown of $99m in the value of McIlroy's lifetime image rights.

The Northern Ireland golfer is unlikely to be too perturbed with the loss, with 'Forbes' magazine last year estimating that he earned $42.5m in 2016 - broken down between $35m from endorsements and $7.6m in winnings.

Deegan goes on to explain the finances of McIlroy's firm which presents far-fewer jaw dropping lines as the write-down.

Rory named his ownself as manager/agent to Rory in 2013.