Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Rory McIlroy's historic win and five talking 

points from the World match-play 

Rory McIlroy made more history with his win at the WGC, but he's not the only talking point from Northern California. Here are the five things we learned this weekend. 

McIlroy is World No 1 for a reason
McIlroy doesn’t need to prove anything to anyone but if you wanted further evidence of his class, here it is: In winning the WGC Cadillac World Match Play, McIlroy joined Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as the only players to win 10 PGA tours before their 26th birthday. Add that one to the history list.
Against Paul Casey in the quarter-final, he was one down with two to play. He prevailed at the 22nd hole. Next up in the semi-final against World No 5 Jim Furyk he was again one down on the penultimate tee. What followed was perfect golf; a birdie two on the par three 17th and then a long iron from the rough to the 18th green to set up a 45-footer for eagle. He drained it.

Furyk accepted the defeat with grace and resignation. He’d played the last three holes in one-under but you can’t beat that kind of golf and that’s why McIlroy is presently the best in the game.

Casey heading back to his best

In 2013 Paul Casey had dropped from the world’s top three to 167 in the space of four years. On-and-off the course life wasn’t as bright as it had once been for a man that had played in three Ryder Cups and notched up 12 professional wins.
The 13th win came at the 2013 Irish Open but it was still his only his second title in more than four years. Starting the 2015 season ranked 75th in the world, Casey’s decision to drop his European Tour commitments to limit the volume of travel is paying dividends. He’s back to 34th in the world and over the course of the week beat former World Number 1 Adam Scott, 10th in the 2014 FedEx Cup Chris Kirk and Francesco Molinari before dispatching 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel in the quarter-final.
It took McIlroy 22 holes to finally beat him and even that came after darkness took the match into a second day and illness meant Casey resumed without the benefit of a full night’s sleep and his full powers. On current form Casey can realistically look forward to breaking back into the elite.

Where there’s a Willett, there’s a way
“A meaningless match that should be axed.” Louis van Gaal, then Netherlands manager, on the third place play-off at the 2014 World Cup. Rarely the most popular match at a tournament, beaten semi-finalists could be forgiven for not taking this one seriously but not so this weekend for England’s Danny Willett in California.
Beaten 3 and 2 by Gary Woodland in the semi-final, perhaps having something extra to play for made the difference for Willett in his own 3 and 2 win over veteran American Jim Furyk. 
Victory meant he earned £430,000 instead of £345,000 but more importantly secured his US PGA Tour card. He is now inside the world’s top 40 and the future looks bright on both sides of the pond for the Yorkshireman.

By Jimenez!
He is 51-years-old, has 21 European Tour wins spanning three decades and is a senior statesman of European golf. But there is fire in the belly of Miguel Angel Jimenez yet!
Playing in a dead rubber against Keegan Bradley, Jimenez took exception to a ruling given to Bradley after he’d fired his drive close to the TV compound on the 18th.
 When Bradley’s caddie, Steve “Pepsi” Hale, tried to intervene, Jimenez dismissed him with a short, sharp “shut up”.
Hale refused to shake hands after the round with Jimenez, who said he was “trying to be helpful”. Perhaps the Manny-Money build-up had filtered onto the golf course but it shows that despite being eligible for the Seniors’ Tour, Jimenez has lost none of his desire to win against the elite.

By the way, Jimenez won the hole and the match by two holes.

Ryder Cup watch

The United States might have found a future Ryder Cupper in beaten finalist Gary Woodland but the signs from San Francisco are that Europe still has the edge in match play.

Four of the players to reach the last eight are eligible to play for Europe, while only two were from the US, and only five Americans made it to the last 16 from a field of 29 starters, compared to five from 22 Europeans.
However the Americans edged the head-to-head with a 20-19 scoreline in US v Europe matches. The biggest win of the week though went to Finland’s Mikko Illonen with his third round 8 and 6 whipping of American Matt Every.

Rory McIlroy speaks to Tim Barter after his victory at the WGC-Cadillac Match Play beating Gary Woodland in the final to clinch the title.



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