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…

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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.

An Incredible Decade Of Rory Winds Down With Winless Season And Fulfillment Of "Expectations Elsewhere"

The Daily Mail's Derek Lawrenson writes on the 10-year anniversary of Rory McIlroy's decision to turn pro and says "if the last decade has shown us anything, it is there's nothing in golf quite like the sight of McIlroy in full flow."

Suggesting McIlroy's first decade fell short only to those of Palmer, Nicklaus, Woods and Ballesteros, Lawrenson wonders what will happen to turn things around.

McIlroy has certainly got some serious issues to address, beginning with his health. We're told the persistent rib injury that has prevented him from practising properly for much of this season will be put right with two months of rest and we can only hope this proves the case.

While he's doing that in October and November McIlroy will begin the search for a new caddie, and you only have to look at the contribution Michael Greller makes to Spieth's success to illustrate the importance of the right choice.

On the course, McIlroy might have few peers when it comes to his work off the tee but it's not much use when it's accompanied by stats showing his wedge game and putting are way below a level to allow him to take advantage. The plan is to spend much of December working on a solution.

One of the more interesting comments from McIlroy at the BMW Championship was reported by GolfChannel.com's Will Gray. Discussing why he played the PGA Tour Playoffs after suggesting he might pass to rest a nagging rib injury, McIlroy said he ultimately played at someone else's request.

While he explained that playing the last three events hasn’t made any further impact on his existing injury, he also hinted that the decision to tackle the playoffs was not entirely his.

“Some decisions aren’t completely up to the individual,” McIlroy said. “There was outside expectation from elsewhere. I played these events for two reasons: thinking that I still had a chance, but for trying to fulfill obligations elsewhere. So there was two parts of it.”

McIlroy became a free agent of sorts when Nike exited the equipment business but signed with Taylor Made mid-season. Whether it was one of those two companies or the PGA Tour pressuring McIlroy to play despite his health issues, is not clear. But given the potential for harm, the resulting mediocre playoff run and the loads of potential McIlroy possesses to be a dominant player, it sounds like priority number one is getting some of his obligations in better order heading into 2018.

Rory Considers Shutting Down For Remainder Of 2017

I found the Roger Federer reference telling from a member of Rory McIlroy's camp, as quoted in Derek Lawrenson's Daily Mail story following a final round 68 at Quail Hollow.

‘There’s a lot to be said for what Roger Federer did in tennis,’ said one of his inner circle, referring to the five months the Swiss legend took off to get fit before coming back to win the Australian Open in January.

That sounds like a season shutdown, something McIlroy did not dispel following the round.

‘So right now, to be perfectly honest, I don’t know what to do. You might not see me now until next year. You might see me in a fortnight at the FedEx Cup. What I do know is that if I want to challenge on a consistent basis, I need to get 100 per cent healthy.’

Video: Rory McIlroy Narrates Traden Karch Story

Get ready for a seriously throat lump learning about the inspirational comeback of Traden Karch, an aspiring young golfer who's got some Rory in his swing and face. He has overcome a horrific accident with the help of doctors, family, friends, and Rory McIlroy, who narrates this Golf Channel piece.

If you saw this on Wednesday's Live From the PGA at Quail Hollow or maybe caught a glimpse from afar without audio, make sure to check out this fine piece of work by producer Adrienne Gallagher.

Ball Goes Far Files: Rory's Driver Carries Render Quail Hollow's Range Too Short

There is some truly blissful viewing here watching the Toptracer techology track Rory's monster carry yardages and his range balls bounding through the trees 350 yards away.

Note the drive that carries 365! (Link here if embed does not work.)

Rory Didn't "Sack" His Looper..."Changed My Path"

For once I admire someone leaning on euphemisms and jargon to defend a decision, because it's pretty clear from reading Steve DiMeglio's USA Today account that Rory McIlroy didn't feel good about firing longtime caddie J.P. Fitzgerald midseason.

From the story:

“There’s nothing to say that J.P. mightn’t work for me again at some point, but right now I just felt like I needed a little bit of a change,” McIlroy said. “I hate the term fired or sacked or axed, because that’s definitely not what it was. I just changed my path a little bit, but maybe in the future that path might come back to where it was. Right now I just needed to mix things up a little bit, and J.P. understood that and we’re still all good.”

Time will tell if, during a season he's mixed things up so much already, this was the right call.

Karen Crouse of the New York Times notes something that suggest McIlroy could be forcing himself into a different level of engagement that either works or backfires.

Last week, two days after finishing in a tie for fourth at the British Open, McIlroy parted with the caddie J. P. Fitzgerald. In their nine years together, Fitzgerald had shepherded McIlroy to four major championships and the top of the world rankings.

For at least the next two weeks, Diamond, a Northern Irishman who had a decorated amateur career, will carry McIlroy’s clubs while McIlroy bears the burden of determining the yardages and choosing his clubs — and living with the decisions.

“I’ve enjoyed the last couple of days of carrying a yardage book, doing my own numbers, pacing stuff out, really getting into the shot, something I haven’t done for a few years,” McIlroy said.

Roundup: Rory Sacks J.P. Fitzgerald, Turning To Best Mate As Next Bagman?

Reuters' Andrew Both broke the news that Rory McIlroy was dumping his longtime luggage handler and sidekick of nine years, J.P. Fitzgerald.

As Derek Lawrenson notes in the Daily Mail, the sacking comes "just 11 days after crediting Fitzgerald with transforming his fortunes at The Open."

Coming on the eve of the WGC Bridgestone and a PGA Championship at a course where McIlroy won two Wells Fargo Championships with Fitzgerald, the news is surprising. Add in a year where McIlroy switched clubs mid-season to help finalize Taylor Made's sale, the timing is even more amazin

Oh, and let's not forget that Fitzgerald was credited with a pep talk that ignited a strong finish at The Open by...Rory McIlroy.  

James Corrigan in the Telegraph says the switch may have been prompted by a tenth hole strategic blunder at Birkdale, though of all the holes in golf to blame a caddie for mishandling, that would not have made my list.

However, two days later, McIlroy’s charge for a second Claret Jug was derailed when he took a double bogey on the 10th, courtesy of the wrong club selection off the tee. Again, the spotlight picked out Fitzgerald.

In the caddyshack, the development was not greeted with too much surprise. And do not expect an overload of sympathy either, and not just because Fitzgerald is estimated to have earned more than £8m in his employment with McIlroy.

“It was coming,” one caddie told Telegraph Sport. Fitzgerald’s meticulousness has been called into question by his peers, some of who believe the mistake at Birkdale was merely the latest error.

The British press has long blamed Fitzgerald for McIlroy's strategic blunders. But going off of McIlroy's handling of his equipment deals this year, especially the recent putter demo day debacle, it's hard to see how the caddie is to blame for bad decision-making when the client is very much his own captain.

According to Corrigan, McIlroy appears set on turning to wedding best man and entourage chairman and three-time winner of the best pen name award, Harry Diamond.

Diamond could even prove the permanent solution. A childhood friend who grew up in the same Belfast suburb of Holywood, Diamond is a fine player in his own right, having played with McIlroy in the Ulster youth team and going on to represent the Irish senior team.

And he has caddied for McIlroy before. When the then 16-year-old prodigy was invited to play in the Irish Open in 2005, it was Diamond who was on his bag. The pair are extremely close, with Diamond reportedly acting as best man at McIlroy’s wedding to Erica Stoll in April.

Brian Keogh at the Irish Golf Desk talks to Paul McGinley. The former Ryder Cup captain used to employ Fitzgerald and was surprised. Among his interesting comments:

“I don’t want to be critical of him and I haven’t spoken to him but going into the last major of the year, I’d agree that it’s surprising timing.

“I'm surprised that he’s made that decision going to a golf course where he has won twice with JP on the bag.

“Who knows what the reasons were.”