Honda Classic. Rory Rolls On.

dragon logo darkThe Honda Classic Logo

Rory McIlroy rolls on at the Honda Classic taking a two shot lead into the final round at PGA National, Palm Beach Gardens, in Florida.

Rory McIlroy will take a two-shot lead into the final round at PGA National. (Smith/Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy / Getty Images

Rory carded a third round -1 under par 69 to keep his nose in front of the chasing pack, posting a total of -12 under par. The 2012 winner at PGA National, is looking to go wire to wire here. Rory spoke about not making mistakes;

” It’s all about not making mistakes, it’s about limiting the damage. You’re going to make a few bogeys out there. If you limit those, hit fairways and greens, that’s what I’m going to try to do tomorrow. There’s still eighteen holes to go, but I’m feeling comfortable with where I am.”

Russell Henley is in second place at -10 under par, his third round -2 under par 68 contained an Eagle 2 at the par four 14th hole. He is trying to ignore what Rory is doing;

” I’m trying not to pay attention to what Rory is doing, obviously, he’s playing great and he’s been in this situation a little bit more than me. But I still have a lot of confidence and I’m just going to try to play my game and not worry about what he’s doing too much.”

Russell Knox carded a third round -2 under par 68, for -9 under par total, and he is the only player among the top eight who has never won on the PGA TOUR.

Tiger Woods put together his best round for a while, a -5 under par 65, that shot him up the leaderboard to T17. He declared he is still in the hunt, even though he is seven shots off the pace of Rory;

“Today was a positive day, hit the ball well and made some putts and got myself back in the hunt.”

Brendon de Jong fell away badly while playing alongside Rory, he collapsed with a third round +6 over par 76, taking him out of contention. He is now T24, a drop of 22 places on the day;

“It was just unfortunately one of those bad days, it’s going to happen if you play this game for long enough. I just hit too many bad shots, I was putting for too many pars on this golf course.”

The Honda Classic. McIlroy Makes His Mark.

dragon logo darkThe Honda Classic LogoRory McIlroy makes his mark at the Honda Classic on the PGA National course at Palm Beach Gardens, taking a first round lead.

The Upshot: Rory roars

Rory McIlroy / Getty Images

 Rory carded a -7 under par 63 opening round, taking just 25 putts after hitting 14 greens in regulation in the opening round. Scoring birdies on the last two holes at PGA National giving him a one-shot lead, after the first round of The Honda Classic. By contrast,  he was +7 over par through eight holes last year when he became so frustrated with mounting expectations and a slumping game that he walked off the course in the middle of the second round. He said it was a mistake he would never repeat;

” It’s not something I really thought about out there. Coming in this week, I knew that I was playing well and I just wanted to try and get off to a good start. Regardless of what happened last year or where it is, it’s always nice to shoot a round like this and get yourself in the mix early.”

“You can’t fake it around here, you have to play well to shoot good scores, and I was able to do that today. I’ve reached a point now where I’m very comfortable with everything in my game and my swing. I’m seeing shots the way I want to see them. When I do that, I feel like the scores are just a byproduct of all the hard work and making good swings. I’m in a great place I couldn’t be happier.”

Russell Henley is in second place at -6 under par with a round of 64. He  opened with five birdies in six holes before cooling off. He put his good start  down to his career at the University of Georgia, which prepared him to face some of the more difficult venues on the PGA Tour;

“I think college golf may have something to do with that. Most courses you play are pretty difficult, at least the ones where you play the best teams and all of the highest-ranked tournaments. They’re pretty tough courses. Getting off to a good start here is pretty important, every hole is challenging, and you have to decide what to do with the wind and where it’s coming from.”

Rory Sabbatini, William McGirt and Jamie Donaldson are all tied in third place at -5 under par after their opening rounds of 65.

Phil Mickelson is not too familiar with this course, and it showed with his first round of even par 72;

“I’m a little uncertain at times where I want to go because I’m not as familiar with the course, but you should be able to pick that up quickly with the yardage books and I’ve got a great caddie. So those things are not as important as the execution, hitting the right shot and pulling it off. I really like this golf course, I think it’s a wonderful test of golf. I think it’s a very difficult, hard golf course but when you hit good shots, you get rewarded with birdies opportunities.”

Tiger Woods was one shot worse than Phil, carding a +1 over par round of 71; Tiger said he did not make too much;

“Well, I didn’t make much, it certainly wasn’t together today. I had four good looks early and didn’t make any of them. Then I made three good saves in a row at 16, 17, 18, which was nice, and then didn’t really hit the ball that well on the back nine. Then I started putting better. Figures.”

“We were talking about it out there today in our group, how different this golf course played this year compared to last year. They were as slippery as can be last year where now they are sticky and slower.”

Rory Regrets Folly about Wisdom Teeth.

Rory McIlroy regrets walking off the course at the Honda Classic, and lying to all and sundry about the reason for his sudden withdrawal, initially saying his game was in a dark place. Then his management company came up with the novel idea that Rory had sudden toothache, it just had to be his wisdom tooth, such irony.

Rory McIlroy grabs his nose. I thought it was your tooth! (Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy / Getty Images

The Worlds Number One ranked golfer, Rory McIlroy had to eat humble pie, with no sign of teething problems, when he fronted up to the media to announce the truth behind his Honda Classic withdrawal.

” I realized pretty quickly that it wasn’t the right thing to do,’ no matter how bad I was playing, I should have stayed out there. I should have tried to shoot the best score possible even though it probably wasn’t going to be good enough to make the cut. At that point in time, I was just all over the place, I saw red, it was a mistake and everyone makes mistakes and I’m learning from them. Some people have the pleasure of making mistakes in private, most of my mistakes are in the public eye. I actually think in the long run, Friday will be a blessing in disguise, it was like it just sort of released a valve and all that sort of pressure that I’ve been putting on myself just went away. And I was like, just go out and have fun. It’s not life or death out there. It’s only a game. I had sort of forgotten that this year. I’ve learned from it and as I said, it won’t happen again.”

A contrite Rory spoke for 25 minutes,  with two of his agents from Horizon Sports, Colin Morrissey and Sean O’Flaherty in close attendance, along with Nike representatives and his coach Michael Bannon. Rory said he will have to learn to tough it out;

“I learned that when the tough gets going, I’ve got to stick in there a bit more and I’ve got to grind it out. There’s no excuse for quitting and it doesn’t set a good example for the kids watching me, trying to emulate what I do. It wasn’t good for a whole lot of reasons, for the tournaments, the people coming out watching me. I feel like I let a lot of people down and I am very sorry. Me and all you guys are hopefully going to have a working relationship for the next 20 years, so I don’t want to jeopardize that by being closed. I feel like I’ve always been open and honest and given you guys all my thoughts. I don’t want there to be friction, it’s not like I want it to be a strained relationship because it’s going to be a long one, I hope.”

Ernie Els,  a four-time Major winner, who is also playing in this week’s WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral’s Blue Monster said he regretted not stopping Rory from walking off.

It was obviously a heat of the moment thing, he is who he is. You’ve got to respect what the individual at that moment is like, and he wanted to get off. And we obviously heard that he had his wisdom tooth was bothering him, and if that was the reason, that was that. I would have been out of my depth at that stage to say something to him if something was bothering him. So I didn’t, but I thought I should have.”

Ernie and Mark Wilson were the three-some on the ill-fated round, Ernie went on to say when he was young he had done some silly things, and his experience in the game could have helped out Rory;

“That’s why I thought I needed to say something. Listen, I was also 23; I’m 43 now. I look back, I did a lot of silly things and what he’s done is nothing compared to what I did; speak to my parents. But when it comes to being where he’s at, you’ve got to maybe think a little bit more than two minutes. In a couple of years’ time, he won’t even think about this or talk about this. If he wins this week, it will be the last thing we talk about, it will be history and that’s what it should be. It’s something that’s happened and we should move on from that. He’s a great kid, he’s a great player and if he admits he’s made a mistake, then that’s that and let’s move on.”




Honda Classic, Camilo Villegas,Surprise Leader,

Back on track

Camilo Villegas / Chris Condon / Getty Images

Camilo Villegas is the surprising first round leader of the Honda Classic at the PGA National Champion Course,Palm Beach Gardens, with a round of -6 under par 64. It is  four years now since his back-to-back wins in the FedEx Cup Playoffs events, when he  rose to as high as No. 7 in the world. The  31-year-old Colombian then plunged  into a slump that  was so bad that over the last 18 months he lost his card last year. Camilo won The Honda Classic in 2010 at PGA National, so he at least has that to build on. But despite the good start, he wasn’t afraid to risk ruining the day on the last hole. Even his caddie asked what he was thinking of when he was addressing a shot on the last hole;

“My caddie said, where are you going to go with this one,. And I said, I’m looking straight at that flag. And I hit a great shot.”

Tiger Woods saved his round with a shot from out of the water on the par 4, sixth hole, taking his shoes off to enter the hazard, he finished the day at even par;

“I was 1 over at the time, and if that ball is not playable from where it’s at, where I crossed was pretty far back, looking at six, three over and all of a sudden I flip it, make par there and birdie the next.”

Charles Howell 111, Chucky three-sticks,  opened with a -3 under par, 67. He has just until the end of the month to go from No. 64 to the top 50 in the World Ranking to qualify for the Masters in his hometown of Augusta.

Branden Grace,  Rickie Fowler, Graham DeLaet  and Robert Streb, are all tied in second place at -5 under par for the opening round of this tournament.


McIlroy Wins Honda Classic & is World #1


Sunday at PGA National

Rory McIlroy, Of Northern Ireland, ReactsAP

Rory McIlroy won The Honda Classic, and with it the World Golf Ranking of #1. Rory had a last round of 69 for a tournament total of -12 under par, two shots clear of the field. Tiger Woods finished joint second after a marvelous round of -8 under par, and a total of -10 at the end. He shared second place with the ever present and consistent Tom Gillis, who made a mockery of his lowly world ranking with four rounds in the sixty’s in this tournament. Justin Rose sadly could not improve on his overnight score, finishing with a level round of 70 and a -7 total. Ricky Fowler also had a good last round, with a 66, to finish tied 7th, looks like he may be getting used to those new Cobra clubs of his.

Tiger Woods eagled the 18th, which sent a massive roar around the golf course, Rory heard it all the way back on the 13th green, just as he was about to put for a birdie, he said;

“I could hear the huge roar, and it definitely wasn’t a birdie roar.I was able to hole that putt, which was very important. I knew if I could just play the last five holes at even par, it was going to be good enough. Great to get the job done, and very happy to come out on top.”

“It was tough today, especially seeing Tiger make a charge, I knew par golf would probably be good enough. To shoot 1 under in these conditions, when you go into the round with the lead, is very nice. And I was just able to get the job done.”

On becoming World #1 Rory enthused;

“It was always a dream of mine to become the world No. 1 and the best player in the world or whatever you want to call it. But I didn’t know that I would be able to get here this quickly. Hopefully, I can hold onto it for a little longer.”


McIlroy Drives to the front @ The Honda Classic

Rory McIlroy fired a -4 under par 66 to lead the Honda Classic tournament by two shots at the PGA National Champion Course · Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. For the second Sunday in a row Rory will have a chance to win a tournament and also climb to #1 in the World Golf Rankings, replacing Luke Donald who has held the ranking for the last nine months. Asked about why things are different this week Rory said, while smiling;

“I wasn’t standing 2 up on the first tee in the final.”

  Rory McIlroy Of Northern Ireland WavesGetty Images

Just two strokes in arrears are Tom Gillis and Harris English, Tom had a magical putting round saving par from distance on a number of occasions and Harris matched Rory’s -4 under par 66 on the day.

Justin Rose had a poor round of +1 and 71 to slip four shots adrift of McIlroy, even missing a short put on the last for a much needed birdie.

  Justin Rose Of England Hits

Getty Images

Justin escaping from just one of many bunkers he encountered during the third round.

Tiger Woods had a slightly better round but is still a long way from the top being at only -2 under par for the tournament, a distant 10 shots behind the leader after three rounds. Lee Westwood fared no better, and is now 11 strokes adrift of his main rival this week for the top spot in the world rankings.

From Rory’s position going into the last round it is easy to see why he is now everybody’s favorite for the title, and of course #1 in the world. He said;

“I definitely feel like I need to put it out of my mind tomorrow, I need to focus on just trying to win this golf tournament. It might be a little difficult.”

Justin Rose & Tom Gillis lead @ Honda Classic

Justin Rose and Tom Gillis lead at the Honda Classic after the second round with a tournament total of -8 under par. Rory McIlroy is just one shot back after a second round 67 which keeps him very much in touch at -7. Round of the day went to rookie Brian Harman who shot a course record 61, and -9 under par, elevating him to tied 4th for the tournament at -6. He said of his exceptional round;

“Just one of those crazy days where everything comes together. Got off to a really hot start and just kept the pedal down all day. It was awesome.”

Justin was philosophical about dropping two shots coming in;

“You can’t play 36 holes around here and expect to come away without any bruises at all,”

McIlroy, who needs to win The Honda Classic to replace Luke Donald at the top the world rankings said;

“Still a lot of golf left, 36 holes, I just need to keep doing the same things, try to drive the ball in the fairway and give myself loads of opportunities, and try and take a few. Because you don’t need to make tons of birdies out here. I had a few chances early on and didn’t take them. Kept making pars and making pars, and broke that run with a bogey on 13 which was frustrating. But to bounce back from that and birdie three of the last five holes was nice, and puts me in great position going into the weekend.”

Two move to the topGetty Images

Tiger Woods and Lee Westwood are still hovering around mid table, tied for 31st at -1 under par, which is not a good score given the soft and benign conditions. This year is the easiest this PGA National Champion Course has played for this tournament, last year the cut was at +6 compared with +1 this year.

Tiger closed with two birdies, and was watched playing in a tournament for the first time by his three year old son, Charlie.

“It was nice to get that kind of finish because I was struggling today a little bit, trying to find a motion that was going to get the job done. Somehow, I managed to score.”