Thursday, July 20, 2017

Caddie's expletive dressing down puts Rory

McIlroy back on the rails

SOUTHPORT, Lancashire – Rory McIlroy couldn’t have asked for better conditions in the 146th Open Championship. Ditto for Sergio Garcia, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose, Tommy Fleetwood, Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson.

They didn’t take advantage of them, but at least McIlroy managed to salvage his round with a display of damage limitation over the back nine to post a one-over-par 71. He has caddie J P Fitzgerald to thank for that.
McIlroy was five over par standing on the sixth tee and heading for a third consecutive missed cut following the Irish and Scottish Opens when J P gave him a good talking to.
“I was nervous going out,” McIlroy admitted. “I was a little anxious, timid. Probably just not as much belief in myself as I should have had. J P gave me a good talking on the sixth tee box, and sort of reminded me of who I was.
“He said: ‘You’re Rory McIlroy: What the (expletive) are you doing?’
 “It definitely helped. It kept me positive. He did a great job.”

McIlroy bogeyed the 499-yard, par-4, sixth hole, but that‘s no sin: it’s the hardest hole on the golf course because it used to be a par-5. However, he played the next 12 holes in four under par to shoot a 71 and is six shots off the lead.
“I could be standing here and hit 18 greens and shot 1-over and missed every putt and feel terrible but, because of the way I started, I actually feel really positive. It’s a bit like the Ryder Cup at Medinah in 2012. We were 10-6 down on Saturday night but we felt like we were right in with a chance, because we won the last two points.
“Even though there’s a lot of golf left, in other circumstances it might have been a disappointing day, but just with the way I finished, I feel really good.”
Rose, Fowler and Johnson matched McIlroy’s 71. The Englishman got onto the leaderboard early when he moved to two under par after three to tie the lead but stumbled coming home.
Johnson only made one birdie all day, at the second, and didn’t take advantage of the two back nine par-5s. Fowler was a model of inconsistency with five bogeys and four birdies on his card.
 Garcia was two shots worse off after a 73. The Masters winner looked less than masterful, as he admitted.

“It was a terrible day,” Garcia said. “I didn’t hit many fairways. Even the good drives I hit, I didn’t hit the fairways. My iron play wasn’t great. And the birdie chances I had early on I didn’t make them. And then I started hitting some bunkers.”
Mickelson also shot 73. He didn’t make a birdie in his round, like Johnson failing to take advantage of the easily reachable back nine par-5s. Bones McKay probably had a better day commentating than his former boss.
 Fleetwood carried the hopes of hometown Southport on his shoulders, but returned a 76. He needs a miracle if he is to be around for the weekend.

McIlroy just needs an under-par round to get back into the tournament. He tees off at 9:47am with the weather forecast to get worse as the day progresses.
“If I go out tomorrow before the bad conditions and shoot something in the 60s, I feel like I’ll be right there for the weekend. I was four over through three holes last year in Boston (Deutsche Bank Championship). And won that tournament. So I’ve done it before.”
He might just need J P to remind him of that constantly. Several other marquee names might need similar pep talks.



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