Category Archives: Rory McIlroy

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2019 U.S. Open Final Round Highlights

The 119th playing of the U.S. Open is officially in the books following four days of grueling competition. The host site, Pebble Beach, didn’t quite fight back as many expected but it yielded plenty of exciting opportunities and tension down the closing stretch. After winning back to back in 2017 and 2018, defending champion Brooks Koepka nearly made it a three-peat but inevitably came up three shots short.

Keeping calm, cool, and collected Sunday, much like he did all week, gave Gary Woodland the poise to pull off his first Major victory. Since the close of Friday’s second round, the 35-year old four-time PGA Tour winner stayed at the top and refused to let go of his chance at history. With a final round of 69 Woodland finished the tournament 13-under par and three clear of the competition.

Between Woodland, Koepka, and Justin Rose battling at the top, the leaders turned in plenty of top shots Sunday. But the field below them jockeying for position also provided their fair share of highlight reel moments. Last Word on Golf has compiled the top highlights from Sunday’s final round of the U.S. Open.
Woodland wins at Pebble Beach
With Koepka and Rose already making moves to threaten the lead, Woodland answered right back with a birdie at the second hole to improve to 12-under.

With what can only be described as ice running through his veins, Woodland matched the roars from Koepka’s early charge with another confident birdie of his own to extend his lead back to two.

As Koepka began breathing straight down his neck, Woodland stepped up once again and delivered a clutch birdie to increase his lead to two shots once again.

Woodland proved human after barely missing a 21-footer for birdie that would’ve moved him to a three-shot lead.

Another narrowly missed birdie putt helped to highlight how Woodland’s lead so much of the U.S. Open this week, by minimizing the big numbers and keeping his scores consistent.

On the green in three at the par-5 18th, and already a two-stroke lead, Woodland refused to play it safe by turning in a crowd erupting 30-foot birdie to solidify his first ever major championship at the 2019 U.S. Open.


Rose and Koepka contend
Starting the day four off the lead, reigning back to back U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka turned the heat up quickly with a birdie on his first hole of the day.

With a birdie to close his round Saturday, Justin Rose kept the momentum train rolling with another birdie on his first hole of the day to get into an early tie of the lead.

From a seemingly impossible lie in the thick rough and an awkward angle, Koepka turned around what could have easily been a bogey or worse with an incredible approach that would lead to a par save.

From the fairway on the par-4 3rd, Koepka reeled in his approach to set up an easy birdie to get to 9-under.

With three birdies in his first four holes, Koepka jumped into a tie for second and began the rumblings of a comeback back to back to back U.S. Open championship bid.

With almost 22-feet to the hole, Koepka continued his birdie run at the par-3 5th.

After a few routine pars Koepka went back to the birdies at the par-4 11th to move to just one shot off the lead.

With so much going on around him Rose stayed laser-focused over his par-saving putt at 11.

Still two shots off the lead, Koepka had a chance to put the pressure on and move the lead to just one with one to play. Unfortunately for Koepka it wasn’t meant to be as his birdie putt on 18 just barely missed the right edge.


The Best of the Rest
Just a few more inches and Rory McIlroy would’ve had one of the shots of the entire tournament as he missed an ace at the iconic par-3 7th hole be just a few rotations of the golf ball.

After 59-years of Jack Nicklaus’ 72-hole U.S. Open amateur record standing strong, at his last tournament as an amateur, Viktor Hovland broke that record Sunday by two strokes.

He may not have had much to talk about for much of the tournament but Bryson DeChambeau turned in some early noise from the gallery with an eagle at the par-5 6th to get back to even par.

2012 U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson made his move up the leaderboard with an eagle at the 6th and a follow-up birdie at the 7th to also battle back to even par.

Falling off the gird after a sensational opening round, Rockie Fowler proved he still has plenty to prove at Pebble Beach following a birdie putt from off the green at the par-4 4th.

Aaron Wise used every inch of spin he could muster at the par-5 14th for a remarkable 79-yard birdie hole out.

Scott Piercy started his round in one of the best ways possible with a birdie hole out at the very first hole of the day.

Despite finishing the tournament at 4-over par, the newly turned 49-year old Phil Mickelson finished his 28th U.S. Open appearance with a birdie at 18.

If you come to play Pebble Beach you better know how to play out of the sand. 2018 Open Champion, Francesco Molinari proved he knows his way out of a bunker with a birdie hole out at the 8th.

No matter where he is on the leaderboard all eyes are on Tiger Woods. And Woods knows how to deliver late in on a Sunday including this lengthy birdie at the par-4 13th.

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2019 U.S. Open Third Round Highlights

The 2019 U.S. Open is far from over but while moving day provided a needed boost for some, the names on top saw little change. After a stunning second round, Gary Woodland continued his methodical poise around Pebble Beach Saturday.

Woodland began the day 9-under par for the tournament and holding onto a one-shot lead. Despite his first bogey in 34 holes, the current U.S. Open leader turned in a steady 2-under third round of 69. His playing partner Saturday, Justin Rose, kept things close with a 68 to stay just one back of Woodland.

While the top two didn’t change, the leaderboard below them shifted around with a number of odds on favorites making their move. With so many of the top players in golf pulling out all the stops at Pebble Beach, the third round of the U.S. Open turned in a number of replay-worthy highlights.
Woodland and Rose continue to set the pace
Gary Woodland showed no signs of pressure or slowing down as he needed just four holes Saturday to turn in his first birdie and extend his lead to three.

Needing to capitalize on the rare Woodland mistake this week, Justin Rose settled in to gain the two-shot swing at the par-4 8th.

After his first bogey in 34 holes at the 8th, Woodland bounced back at 11 as he spun his approach to just over two feet. He would clean up for birdie to get back to 10-under par.

Following an awkward lie after his tee shot at the par-3 12th, Woodland found himself off the green chipping for par. However, no putter was no problem as he found the perfect line to save par.

Not letting Woodland’s chip-in par save rattle him, Rose fired back at 12 with a strong birdie putt to cut the lead back to two.

Looking to be in trouble once again at 14, Woodland had to cover over 42-feet for his par. And he used every inch of the green to bury that putt at the bottom of the cup for par.

Rose dropped a shot at 13 but fired one right back following Woodland’s stunning par-saving putt to again get back to 9-under and within two.

It may have been a grind Saturday but Rose will march into Sunday with the momentum and just one shot behind Woodland following a closing birdie at 18.


Koepka keeps history in sight
Looking to stay in striking range, the reigning back-to-back U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka nearly cashed in an eagle at the scoreable par-5 6th hole but had to settle for a birdie for his first red number of the third round.

Standing over his birdie putt at the par-4 10th, Koepka knew he had to find the right line to convert. And convert he did to move to 7-under and a tie for second.

Needing nothing put perfection from off the green at the par-4 15th, Koepka dialed in just that as he sent his par putt from 31-feet on a picturesque line for the save. He would save par at 18 to finish four shots off the lead in his quest to three-peat on Sunday.


Contenders continue to put the pressure on
Closing birdies at 15 and 18 moved Rory McIlroy to a solo 6th place at 6-under heading into the final round at the U.S. Open.

Culminating with this 12-footer at the par-3 17th, Louis Oosthuizen turned in three straight birdies to fight his way back to a tie for third heading into Sunday’s final round.

2010 U.S. Open winner Graeme McDowell finished his round in emphatic fashion after sinking a 34-foot eagle putt to reach 4-under par.

Everyone likes a good eagle so why not two more? Paired together Saturday, Chesson Hadley and Matt Kuchar completed the rare feat as both made eagle putts at the par-5 6th.

Kuchar and Hadley weren’t the only playing partners feeding off one another as Brandt Snedeker and Rafa Cabrera Bello holed out from off the green at the 8th.

Looking for his best finish at a U.S. Open, 24-year old Jon Rahm chipped in for birdie at the par-4 8th.

Friday may not have gone his way but perennial favorite Rickie Fowler turned his fortunes around early Saturday with three birdies through his first seven holes including a 27-foot putt at the par-3 7th.

From off the green and needing a lengthy make to save par, Chez Reavie followed the exact line from 17 yards out to stay tied for 5th at the time.

Despite not being on the green, Rory Sabbatini, who already claimed a hole-in-one highlight Thursday, sank back to back birdies from off the green at four and five.


Tiger finishes with a highlight of his own
It wasn’t a marquee day for the reigning Masters champion but fan favorite Tiger Woods turned in a birdie on his final hole of the day to battle back to even par for the tournament.

 

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2019 U.S. Open Second Round Highlights

Pebble Beach tried to battle back Friday but there were still plenty of low numbers to be had throughout the second round of the 2019 U.S. Open. Deep rough and ever-changing winds tried to unnerve some of the top names in the world of golf. Despite the conditions, one player emerged from the pack as the outright leader heading into the weekend.

Coming off two top-10 performances in his last three Major appearances, Gary Woodland shot a 6-under second round of 65 to take a two-stroke lead over the field. Since early in his opening round, Woodland now finds himself bogey-free over his last 27 holes. The 12-year pro may be in uncharted territory but if his play stays as steady as it did today he seems more than up to the task.

While the top of the leaderboard flourished, the rest of the field struggled to stay inside the dreaded cutline. The pressure of leaving Pebble Beach early mixed with the importance of a major championship provided plenty of top highlights during the U.S. Open’s second round.
Woodland goes low
Beginning his day 2-under par through his first nine holes, starting on 10, Gary Woodland began his battle to the top of the leaderboard with an emphatic birdie at the par-4 1st to move within one of the lead.

After putting himself in prime position, Woodland took his shot at the leaderboard with back to back birdies beginning with a quick, breaking two to tie for the lead at the par-3 5th.

A sensational approach at the 529-yard par-5 6th gave Woodland a look at eagle but he’d ultimately settle for a birdie to claim the outright lead at 8-under.

With his lead in jeopardy late in the round, Woodland stayed calm before pouring in a difficult 15-foot putt to save par.

After it seemed like Woodland pulled out every surprise he had in his bag of trick Friday he saved possibly the best for last with an improbable 49 and a half foot birdie putt to end his round with the tournament leading 9-under par.


Top contenders chase down the lead
The defending back to back U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka continued to battle through his second round just to stay in striking range of the lead. Back to back birdies at six and seven helped keep Koepka on track heading to the weekend.

One of the most consistent players in the game, Justin Rose seemed to have the 36-hole lead nearly untouchable early in his round Friday. Even following his missed hits, the Englishman found a way to birdie including battling out of the bunker at the difficult par-5 18th.

The 2018 Open champion Francesco Molinari proved he doesn’t need a putter to move into contention following a chip-in for birdie at the par-3 7th.

A roller coaster ride featuring seven birdies and five bogeys brought down what began as a solid start for Jordan Spieth. The 2015 U.S. Open champion started his second round with three birdies over his first four holes.

Before Woodland made his charge, it was the South African Louis Oosthuizen who was threatening the lead thanks to his accuracy of the tee and touch around the green.

Despite a back and forth round both Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy proved why they are two of top players on the PGA Tour and around the world with bounce back play at the 14th and 16th respectively.

With back to back rounds of 69, the man known as Kuch ignited the crowd on his final hole of the day with a chip in for eagle at the par-5 18th to place Matt Kuchar at 4-under and five shots off the lead.

The last man to win a U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, Graeme McDowell, made a run of his own Friday featuring a stretch of four straight birdies starting at the par-4 4th.

A leader late Thursday before being passed by Justin Rose, Scott Piercy continued to claw back toward the lead with a long birdie putt Friday at the par-4 13th.


The battle against the cut heats up
Finishing 1-over par for his round, Tiger Woods skated inside the cutline by just two strokes thanks to clutch short game and putting including a birdie at the par-4 11th.

Only his second week back from injury and Justin Thomas flirted with the cutline throughout his second round. At the par-4 9th, JT’s game looked to have a glimmer of hope with a hole-out from the greenside rough. Unfortunately, the 2017 FedEx Cup champion failed to make the cut by two strokes.

Despite missing the cut, Ian Poulter finished his 2019 U.S. Open in memorable fashion after draining his third shot from 71-yards out for birdie.

 

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Last Word on Golf 2019 U.S. Open Predictions

This week some of the Last Word on Golf’s writing team tackle our 2019 U.S. Open predictions. For more insight from each member of the Last Word on Golf panel make sure to follow them at their mentioned Twitter handle. Don’t forget to follow @LastWordOnGolf on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram and let us know your U.S. Open picks and predictions.
Favorite Underdog
Kyle Walton (@TheKCWalton)- Graeme McDowell (80 to 1)

The biggest underdog I’ve picked this season comes back to a familiar locale this week at the 2019 U.S. Open. Northern Ireland’s own Graeme Macdowell was the last man to win a U.S. Open at Pebble Beach back in 2010. Earlier this season the 39-year old found himself back in the winner’s circle at the Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship.

McDowell’s recent form has been on the upward trajectory as he finished tied for 29th at the PGA Championship and currently sits 5th on the PGA Tour in Strokes Gained: Putting (an essential stat with this week’s tricky poa annua greens). This past week at the RBC Canadian Open McDowell gained a momentous boost of confidence after sinking a clutch putt on the final hole to punch his ticket back home to Royal Portrush and The Open Championship just over a month away.

Josh Mullenix (@TheJMULL_)- Matt Kuchar (50 to 1)

Not entirely sure you can consider Kuch an underdog, but he certainly isn’t a favorite. Pebble Beach isn’t that long of a golf course. What comes at a premium is hitting fairways and accurate approach shots to these small, undulated greens. Kuchar does both of these things beautifully and his lack of power won’t hurt him on a golf course that is only going to play 7,075 yards.

He ranks inside the top-10 on the PGA Tour in both driving accuracy and strokes gained: approach the green. Apart from a missed cut at the Memorial, Kuchar hasn’t finished outside the top-12 since the Players in mid-March.
Biggest Name to Miss the Cut
Walton- Jon Rahm

Entering the U.S. Open, Spain’s Jon Rahm sits at a 28-to-1 favorite and in many cases is a top-10 consensus to perform. However, the often emotional (and sometimes volatile) Rahm is coming off two straight missed cuts, including at the PGA Championship.

Going up against a tricky USGA layout at Pebble Beach may prove too much to handle for the immensely talented 24-year old rising star. Thus far this season Rahm sits 110th in Strokes Gained: Around the Green, 72nd in Strokes Gained: Approach and 71st in Scrambling.

The narrowed fairways and troublesome misses could play equalizer to the accuracy and length off the tee. While he is more than capable of making the proper adjustments, Pebble Beach has a way of humbling even the game’s greatest competitors which could mean an early return home for Rahm from one of the most iconic courses in all of golf.

Mullenix- Phil Mickelson

I really want Phil to win this week and complete the grand slam, but I just don’t see it happening. Since Mickelson won the AT&T Pro-Am at Pebble Beach earlier this year, his best finish is a tie for 18th at Augusta, he’s missed four cuts in nine events, and only has two rounds in the 60s since the beginning of the Masters.

He is 208th on tour in driving accuracy and is 102nd in greens in regulation percentage. Those stats don’t add up to a player that is going to make the cut at the toughest test in golf. Mickelson has been far too inconsistent this season and he’ll miss the cut at the 2019 U.S. Open despite his successful history at Pebble Beach.
2019 U.S. Open Runner-Up
Walton- Brooks Koepka

It’s incredibly difficult to bet against the Major prowess of Brooks Koepka. Not much can be revealed that hasn’t already been hammered home this past week, and even this past year. Not even 30 yet and he is coming off a tie for second at this year’s Masters as well as a successful title defense at the PGA Championship.

Add in that Koepka is already the reigning back-to-back U.S. Open champion and the facts and figures make it nearly impossible to not make him the frontrunner on every poll. That being said, chalk this prediction more up to a gut reaction. The three-peat is one of the most difficult tasks to accomplishment in golf especially coming into a course like Pebble Beach.

I still believe Koepka will turn in a solid, contending performance this week but I just don’t see him winning his 5th Major, at least not yet.
Mullenix- Patrick Cantlay

Patrick Cantlay is playing the best golf of his career. A pair of T3’s at the RBC Heritage and the PGA Championship were followed by an incredible win at the Memorial including a Sunday 64. Eventually, Cantlay is going to get a major, but it won’t be this week. I just don’t have faith in him at majors after what happened to him on the back nine at Augusta.

He looked very uncomfortable and two bogeys in the final three holes took him out of the running quickly. Don’t be surprised to see him near the top of the leaderboard come Sunday, but he needs to be in contention at a major one more time before he actually gets it done.

2019 U.S. Open Champion
Walton- Rory McIlroy

Simply stated, Rory is on a roll. In 13 events played this season McIlroy has finished top-10 in 10 of those tournaments. Six of those were top-5 performances including two victories. Just last week he took home the RBC Canadian Open by a staggering seven strokes following a final round of 61 (which could’ve been a 59) to finish with a tournament total of 22-under par.

Speaking to his stats he currently sits first in Strokes Gained: Total, Off the Tee and Tee to Green as well as the best on tour average for eagles made. Additionally, since 2014 McIlroy currently sits in the top three performers on poa annua greens at 2.93 strokes gained total. (behind Dustin Johnson and Jason Day)

The Northern Ireland native knows what it takes to battle against heavy hitters like Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson, and Brooks Koepka. This week, with momentum on his side and his confidence at an all-time high, McIlroy is undoubtedly a front runner to win his second U.S. Open and his 5th major championship.
Mullenix- Dustin Johnson

Nine years is a long time for demons to hang around and DJ’s win at Oakmont in 2016 effectively exorcised the demons from his collapse at the 2010 U.S. Open. DJ has a great track record at Pebble including back-to-back wins at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in 2009-10.

While it isn’t the same course presented for a U.S. Open that players find in February, history has shown that four of the five U.S. Open winners at Pebble Beach also won the Pro-Am at some point. Over his last 12 rounds, Johnson has 10 rounds in the 60s including four rounds of 69 or better at the PGA Championship where he finished in solo second. DJ gets it done at Pebble and wins his second major championship.

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Mickelson eyes Career Grand Slam at Pebble Beach

As father time ticks away, this week’s U.S. Open from Pebble Beach could be the last real opportunity for five-time major champion Phil Mickelson to complete the coveted grand slam of golf. The four-time All-American tees it up, alongside 155 other top players in the world, in his home state of California this Thursday.

Three times in his 27-year professional career the legend known as ‘Lefty’ has donned the green jacket as Masters Champion (2004, 2006, 2010). Add a PGA Championship in 2005 and The Open Championship in 2013 and just one more piece of the puzzle remains. Placing that last piece of the puzzle is easier said than done with a hard-hitting group of top contenders including Tiger Woods, Brooks Koepka and Rory McIlroy surrounding you.
Mickelson’s U.S. Open History
In 27 starts at the U.S. Open, Mickelson has yet to take home the trophy despite making the cut a remarkable 89-percent of the time (24 of 27 made cuts). Almost inconceivably, he has finished in the top-10 on 10 separate occasions. Six of those top-10 finishes saw Mickelson fall just short of the title in the runner-up position.

Throughout his career, Mickelson has played a U.S. Open at Pebble Beach three different years. Starting in 1992 with a missed cut, he has improved every outing since. In 2000 he found himself in a tie for 16th while 2010 ‘Lefty’ took charge with a tie for 4th.

With six-second place finishes including Pinehurst (1999), Bethpage Black (2002, 2009), Shinnecock (2004), Winged Foot (2006) and Merion (2013), Mickelson has been on the cusp but has never been able to make that final leap into the winner’s circle.

Winged Foot Golf Club’s West Course, the site of Mickelson’s 2006 runner-up finish, will be the host site next year for the 2020 U.S. Open. Despite his past success, the 14-year difference on Mickelson’s abilities may put the 7,264-yard length of Winged Foot out of reach for what will be a 50-year old Phil Mickelson.

Despite being 17th in driving distance this season, Mickelson still comes in 78th in strokes gained tee-to-green and 100th in strokes gained off-the-tee. While this year’s U.S. Open may not be a bomber’s paradise, keeping steady off the tee is an essential aspect for any victor to have in his bag. Luckily for Phil, he more than knows his way around the sprawling California oasis known as Pebble Beach.
Familiarity factor at Pebble Beach
An illustrious career has yielded Mickelson 44 PGA Tour victories. Five of which have come at none other than Pebble Beach Golf Links. While certainly a tale of two courses from the time-honored Pebble Beach Pro-Am to the USGA’s treacherous U.S. Open set up, the familiarity factor cannot be underestimated.

Four of his five Pebble Beach Pro-Am victories have come by a margin of two strokes or greater. Just this past February, Mickelson recorded his latest PGA Tour victory at this very course. With a 7-under final round of 65, the 12-time Ryder Cup participant bested England’s Paul Casey by three strokes.

Suffice to say Mickelson has plenty of fans cheering him on come Sunday, which ironically enough will be his 49th birthday. One such fan is the widely known, and respected, Jim Nantz who predicted Mickelson to win this year’s U.S. Open.

Back in January when he spoke with Golf Channel, Nantz stated “I think [Phil]’s gonna win at Pebble… I want to put that on the record right now. I think Phil is going to win the U.S. Open.”  With the storyline seemingly writing itself, fast forward nearly six months and Mickelson is hitting a hole-in-one at Nantz’s backyard replica of Pebble Beach’s par-3 7th hole.

Course history, celebrity endorsements, and backyard aces aside, while Mickelson may not be the best off the tee his short game precision is well documented. The shorter the club the better for ‘Lefty’ and with the reports of thick rough, small greens, and pinpoint placement with your wedges a near unanimous necessity, Mickelson already has a leg up on the competition.
The Last Word
At 49-years young by weeks end, Mickelson will rely on his precision, short game success, and valuable history at Pebble Beach to become the sixth golfer to complete the career grand slam in what may be Lefty’s best opportunity remaining to check off one more legendary feat in an already storied career.

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Rory McIlroy Cruises to Dominant RBC Canadian Open Win

HAMILTON– Rory McIlroy is a fan of national opens. He’s won Australia’s back in 2013. In 2016, he claimed his own national open in Ireland. And now, McIlroy can add the illustrious Canadian Open to his trophy case. With a dominant final round 61, it was a throwback to how McIlroy won his first two major championships.

Overpowering drives. Short iron shots. Efficient putting.

“I played with freedom,” said McIlroy after his round. “I was really proud of the way I kept being aggressive, even with the 54-hole lead.”
Aggression and Freedom Pays Off for Rory
After propelling himself to the top of the leaderboard in the third round, Rory McIlroy preached the importance of playing with aggression and freedom. With the wind not as bad as on Saturday, Hamilton Golf & Country Club yielded tons of birdie opportunities in the final round, if fairways are hit.

McIlroy asserted his stranglehold on the golf tournament right from the start. Birdieing five of the first seven holes propelled Rory to the top of the leaderboard. The rest of the field, including co-54 hole leaders, Matt Kuchar, and Webb Simpson, could not keep up. The formula was simple and repetitive for McIlroy: he would drive over 300 yards in the fairway. He would use small irons and wedges to land the ball close to the hole. And he converted birdies.

It is unsurprising that McIlroy led the field in strokes gained: off the tee (6.91), strokes gained: tee to green (15.3) and second in greens in regulation (76 percent). When he’s on his game, no one could overtake him.

“It’s a huge confidence builder, not just for next week, but for the rest of the season,” said McIlroy. “It’s been awhile since I played like this and put my foot down, which was nice to do in the final round.”
Rory McIlroy Embraced, Adored by Canadian Fans
There was one time where playing the RBC Canadian Open would not have been possible for McIlroy. The lone PGA Tour tournament in Canada used to take place the week after the Open Championship in July. But a PGA Tour scheduling change brought the RBC Canadian Open the week before golf’s third major, the U.S. Open. A new opportunity for the tournament to position and brand itself as an event the best golfers in the world come to prepare for a major championship.

But McIlroy could not have imagined the reception he received in Canada. It was electrifying. Every hole he went as he progressed through the final round, the cheers grew louder and were more boisterous. On Saturday, Rory labeled the Canadian Open as “one of the best atmospheres on the PGA Tour.” Sunday paved the way for McIlroy to back that claim up with a stellar performance. Now, he will forever be a fan favourite amongst the enthusiastic Canadian crowd.

“The reception from the Canadian crowds have been incredible this week,” said McIlroy. “They’ve been so welcoming all week. I can’t wait to come back next year.”

With the victory, McIlroy becomes the sixth golfer to have won the U.S. Open, Open Championship and the Canadian Open, known as golf’s Triple Crown. Heading to the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach next week with a win is the impetus that McIlroy needed to once again contend at a major championship. With an all-around high-quality tournament, with the facets of his game firing at all cylinders, McIlroy is once again entering the conversation as one of golf’s best players.

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Rory McIlroy Must Rely on Perspective to Win Canadian Open

HAMILTON– Rory McIlroy is once again in a familiar spot. In contention at a PGA Tour event. After shooting a bogey-free six-under 64, McIlroy has a share of the lead heading into the final round of the RBC Canadian Open.

But despite being in the mix at multiple events, McIlroy has only managed to win once this year. Granted, it was the PLAYERS Championship. But Rory has secured nine top-10 finishes, where before his win at TPC Sawgrass, he struggled to perform in the final round.
Rory McIlroy Must Rely on Perspective to Win Canadian Open
The antidote to quell those underperforming final rounds? Patience and Perspective. Two qualities that go hand in hand for a golfer. And that McIlroy must rely on if he is to capture his 16th victory on the PGA Tour.

“I just have to concentrate on what I can do,” stated McIlroy after his third round. “Perspective has been a word I’ve used a lot this year, along with patience and persistence. They’re things I have to keep reminding myself of, to ease the tension and make things simpler.”
Playing Free and Aggressive Key for Rory McIlroy’s Success
On Moving Day, Hamilton Golf & Country Club showed that it can be unforgiving when the wind picks up. It required a golfer like Rory McIlroy to not be tentative and play with freedom. And pick the appropriate holes to showcase his aggressive style of play.

“I think you got to pick and choose your spots,” stated McIlroy. “I stayed aggressive on the first tee this afternoon and was able to make birdie. If the hole location’s in a good spot for driver tomorrow I’ll use that club.”

All facets of McIlroy’s game have been firing on all cylinders. In the third round, McIlroy was second in driving distance (322.4 yards), hit 10 of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens in regulation. For the tournament, Rory has demonstrated his affinity to gain on the field tee to green. He is currently first in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee (4.91), third in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green (8.26) and ninth in Strokes Gained: Putting (4.15). Given the difficult, windy conditions that the golfers had to endure today, it highlights that McIlroy’s game is on an accelerated trajectory compared to last week, when he missed the cut at the Memorial.

“A week can make a big difference,” says McIlroy. “I got the driver going a bit better, and my wedge play is much improved. I was grateful for the opportunity to work on my game a bit over the weekend.”
McIlroy Will Have to Conquer a Cluttered Leaderboard to Win Canadian Open
Winning the RBC Canadian Open would be a sizeable accomplishment for McIlroy. Not only is it the first time he has competed in this tournament but he would dethrone a plethora of golfers looking to steal his place at the top of the leaderboard. Matt Kuchar and Webb Simpson, currently tied with McIlroy, have demonstrated their ability to have success on this golf course. Simpson currently leads the field in Strokes Gained: Putting while Kuchar is fourth. The low Canadian Adam Hadwin, who shot a third round 67, will have the home country behind him as he tries to become the first Canadian-born golfer to win the RBC Canadian Open since Karl Keffer in 1914. Hadwin’s game has been trending in the right direction and he hopes he can put the pieces together to produce a stellar final round for the Canadian fans.

“I’ve done a lot of really good things,” said Hadwin. “I’m missing a couple putts out there but even if I didn’t drive it that well, I had some really good iron shots on the back.”

But what Rory McIlroy has on the field is a large dose of perspective. It enabled the four-time major champion to conquer the adversity of answering question after question about his disappointing final round performances.

And now, it gives him a chance to seal the deal at a venue that McIlroy has embraced and thoroughly enjoyed.

“The Canadian fans really come out and support this event,” said McIlroy. “It’s probably the best atmosphere I’ve played in a long time. I’ve really enjoyed my time here and excited to get to play in front of them again tomorrow.”The post Rory McIlroy Must Rely on Perspective to Win Canadian Open appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


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Last Word on Golf Roundtable: PGA Championship Predictions

This week’s roundtable of predictions by Last Word on Golf’s talented group of writers tackles the 2019 PGA Championship. For more insight from each member of the Last Word on Golf team make sure to follow them at their mentioned Twitter handle. Don’t forget to follow @LastWordOnGolf on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram and let us know your PGA Championship picks and predictions.
Favorite Underdog
Kyle Walton (@TheKCWalton)- Paul Casey (50 to 1)

The last Major memory golf fans have of Paul Casey is a missed cut at The Masters. Despite that, in 13 starts this season Casey has not only made the cut in 10 events but in each of those has finished no worse than a tie for 25th. Half of his made cuts were all top-10 performances including his latest start at the Wells Fargo Championship two weeks ago with a tie for 4th. The Englishman currently sits 17th in Driving Accuracy and could finesse his way around the treacherous Black Course.

Brenden Martin (@brendenmartin28)- Henrik Stenson (70 to 1)

Bethpage Black is a narrow course. You have to be accurate, especially off the tee. Stenson is ranked 7th on Tour in driving accuracy and has been in the mix in previous majors.

Brandon Eisenman (@BrandonEisenman)- Rory McIlroy (12 to 1)

McIlroy needs to have solid drives off the tee and hit as many fairways as possible to have a chance to contend. The former PGA winner may have a tough time at Bethpage this week, but look for him to be in contention as the weekend nears.
Biggest Name to Miss the Cut
Walton- Patrick Reed

With such a strong field this week this was the toughest prediction to have much confidence behind. While it’s true the last time the PGA Tour played Bethpage Black, Patrick Reed found victory but the 2018 Masters champion has had a tough 2019. He has yet to break through to a top-10 finish this year and has missed the cut twice in his last six starts. Additionally, Reed currently sits 169th in Driving Accuracy, 132nd in Greens in Regulation Percentage, and 126th in Total Putting; all stats you want with you, not against you at the PGA Championship.

Martin- Jordan Spieth

Spieth has been inconsistent with his play for the last few years and has struggled in key moments since he was a Major champion. He’s a great person, but he needs to regain his confidence and his game.

Eisenman- Jason Day

Day has played great golf all year long so far. However, Bethpage is one of the toughest courses in the country and he may have trouble making par on many holes. With his performance last week at the AT&T Byron Nelson, Day comes into this week looking to contend. But, he will miss the cut and fall in the rankings.
2019 PGA Championship Runner-Up
Walton- Tommy Fleetwood

There’s a gut feeling inside that says a European is going to make a run this week. The adverse weather conditions and thick rough set up perfectly for someone like Fleetwood to take advantage. Last week the Southport native made a strong run at the Betfred British Masters finishing tied for 8th. The 28-year old has made the cut in his last seven PGA Tour Major appearances and could take home his first Major victory this week in Farmingdale.

Martin- Tiger Woods

What Masters hangover? This is one of the greatest players in history and he has returned to glory. Watch him make a run on Sunday in his legendary red shirt.

Eisenman- Brooks Koepka

Koepka won the PGA Championship in 2018 with four solid rounds of play. Bethpage Black is a tough course to play on, but Brooks knows what it takes to contend for another major victory. Being paired with Tiger Woods this week should give Koepka a challenge as he seeks another win on the TOUR this season.
2019 PGA Championship Winner
Walton- Dustin Johnson

The 2016 U.S. Open champion is due for another Major victory so why not this year at the PGA Championship. Thus far this season Johnson has teed it up in 11 events featuring 11 made cuts, seven top-10’s and a victory at the WGC-Mexico Championship. The top-ranked golfer in the world nearly pulled off a comeback victory at the Masters but had to settle for a tie for second. Look for DJ to take advantage of his length off the tee and his continued Strokes Gained success to come home with the coveted Wanamaker Trophy this year.

Martin- Brooks Koepka

Koepka, of course, has a history of winning this tournament and has played well going into it. It will be close and not an easy course to play, but Koepka should be playing with a ton of confidence this week.

Eisenman- Tiger Woods

Woods comes into the PGA Championship searching for another major win. The 2019 Masters winner reclaimed his title of being one of the best golfers in the world with the win at Augusta in April. Tiger leads the PGA in reaching the green in regulation at 72%. Solid drives and nice shots on the green could land Woods his next major win.

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Wells Fargo Championship Predictions

Wells Fargo Championship Predictions
The Wells Fargo Championship gets started on Thursday at Quail Hollow. The tournament looms two weeks before the prestigious PGA Championship. 2018 Wells Fargo winner Jason Day is a strong favorite to repeat, but will he take home the trophy once again or someone from the field?

Can Jason Day Repeat?
Jason Day has played strong rounds of golf in 2019, and repeating at the Wells Fargo Championship would set up Day for a strong run at the upcoming PGA Championship. Quail Hollow has been one of the Australian’s best courses in the game of golf. The 2015 PGA Championship winner knows what it will take to win this tournament. However, the field in this tournament can bring forth a strong outing as well.
A few favorites to win the Wells Fargo are familiar faces within the PGA. Jason Day is the clear favorite given that he won it one year ago. Tony Finau has been playing great golf and should put forth a strong showing at Quail Hollow throughout the week. Rory McIlroy played solid a few weeks ago at The Masters and is looking for redemption after not getting a green jacket.

Tony Finau’s Chances
Finau has what it takes to outlast the field and win the Wells Fargo Championship. Given his performance at The Masters in early April, Finau has proved himself in tournaments this year. A win for Finau would be strong and could push him into the favorites for the PGA Championship. The Utah native has been a close favorite in a lot of tournaments this year. A great outing here would set up Finau with a great shot at the upcoming PGA Championship.

Rory McIlroy’s Chance for Redemption
After finishing strong at the 2019 Masters, Rory knows he can compete to win this week. His drives off the tee may need to be more solid this time around. If he can get the drives off the tee to make the fairway the majority of the time, that will set him up to make numerous birdies and some putts as well. McIlroy is one of the faces of the PGA, and a strong finish this week would be stellar for the game. Even if he doesn’t come out victorious, at least making the cut would go a long way with three of this year’s four majors all coming within nearly two months time.

2019 Wells Fargo Championship Winner Prediction
Simply stated, Jason Day will repeat as the Wells Fargo Championship winner. The key difference this week will be Day’s ability to hit fairways off the tee. Currently sitting 4th on the PGA Tour in Strokes Gained: Putting, he will have to continue his steady putting game throughout the Wells Fargo. Many around the game of golf believe that Day can repeat as the winner, but it is going to take a lot. This tournament is one of the Australian’s best every year. The field is outstanding, and he knows he has to be on his best game in order to retain at Quail Hollow.

Which Golfer Will Miss the Cut?
The player that will miss the cut this weekend will be Phil Mickelson. Mickelson is likely looking ahead to the PGA Championship, and that will affect his game. Like Tiger Woods, Mickelson’s focus is on his play a whole, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, if he centers his focus to the task at hand he could find himself right back in the running to compete for a trophy this week.
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Five Thoughts Heading into Ryder Cup Four Ball Matches

On the eve of the start of the Ryder Cup, Team USA and Europe’s selections for the morning four-ball matches were revealed. Captains Furyk and Bjorn made the vital selections that will pave the way for their teams to have success in the Ryder Cup. Here are the morning four-ball matches that will open the Ryder Cup:

Match 1: Brooks Koepka-Tony Finau vs. Justin Rose-Jon Rahm

Match 2: Rickie Fowler-Dustin Johnson vs. Rory McIlroy-Thorbjorn Olesen

Match 3: Jordan Spieth-Justin Thomas vs. Tyrell Hatton-Paul Casey

Match 4: Tiger Woods-Patrick Reed vs. Francesco Molinari-Tommy Fleetwood

With the golfers set for both squads, here are my five initial thoughts heading into the Ryder Cup Friday Four-Ball matches.
1) Both Europe and USA Lead with Strength
It is clear that both Europe and USA want to get off on the right footing when it comes to who they put into the Four-Ball matches. For the Americans, they included golfers who come into the Ryder Cup with a ton of momentum. Tiger Woods is arriving at this competition, fresh off winning the TOUR Championship. Brooks Koepka has won two major championships this year.

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For the Europeans, who can argue the success Justin Rose has had this year. FedEx Cup Champion. World Number One. Oh, and he has an above .500 record in the Ryder Cup. Rory McIlroy is the other leader for the Europeans, coming into the Ryder Cup with a 9-6-4 career record. Putting the squad’s two top golfers in the first two matches sends a message that Europe wants to get the early lead and set the tone early in this competition.
2) Older Veterans Are Sitting
In the past, normally it would be the older veterans to start for the squads, to galvanize the respective teams. But in this Ryder Cup, both the Americans and Europeans are sitting their older players for future sessions. The USA is sitting Phil Mickelson, playing in his 12th Ryder Cup. Europe is resting Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter, both of whom have played pivotal roles in victorious European Ryder Cup teams in the past.

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But can you blame Captains Furyk and Bjorn for their decisions? Since being selected as a Captain’s Pick, Phil Mickelson has been at the bottom of the leaderboards at the BMW and TOUR Championships. Sergio Garcia has not made the cut of a major championship since he won The Masters back in 2017. Ultimately, these players will have to compete at least once in the Ryder Cup. Most likely, some of them may play in the Foursomes session on Friday. But giving rest to the older players is important, as the Captains would like to keep them physically fit and not tired before the grueling Singles Sunday.
3) Rookies Get Golden Opportunity
It is clear that Captains Furyk and Bjorn aren’t shying away from putting their rookies in the hot seat early on in the Ryder Cup. Six rookies combined will be starting in the Friday morning Four-Ball session; Tony Finau and Justin Thomas for the Americans and Jon Rahm, Thorbjorn Olesen, Tyrell Hatton and Tommy Fleetwood for the Europeans.

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“Players stand up and they are counted for what they do in the greatest events in the world. But legends are made in this event,” Bjorn said. “That is where the public comes around them and can do so much for their careers. It’s an opportunity to go out there and be the best that you can be on a grand stage.”

Thomas Bjorn is risking more with starting four rookies compared to Furyk’s two. Not to take away anything from Tony Finau or Justin Thomas but those two have been in the mix in major championships (Thomas 2017 PGA Championship winner) and relish those high-pressure moments. For Bjorn, he will roll the dice with Rahm, Olesen, Hatton, and Fleetwood. These four have shown promising golf this year, but will it shine through in front of the rowdy home crowd? The Danish captain believes they have what it takes to seize the moment.

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“There are the obvious guys out there, in the sense that they are players you would all expect to see, and then there’s a new guy in every group,” Bjorn said.

“They have been just itching to go, especially Thorbjorn, Jon and Tyrrell. I think Tommy is a different guy, in the way that he’s won [the 2017 France Open] around here, and he’s been real quality for the last couple of years.”
4) Best Morning Match?
While it will be fantastic to see the big hitters of Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy going toe-to-toe or the lifelong friendship of Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas becoming Ryder Cup partners, the best morning match will be the last one. Tiger Woods and Patrick Reed, the Big Cat and Captain America taking on Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood, the Italian Stallion and the English Rookie.

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Patrick Reed’s Ryder Cup record is sensational. 6-1-2 and most famous for exuding that American pride in defeating Rory McIlroy at the 2016 Ryder Cup. Despite Tiger Woods’ underwhelming Ryder Cup record (13-17-3), he is coming into the Ryder Cup on a high after winning his 80th PGA Tour victory. The partnership of Woods and Reed can fuel and ignite the fire within each other, showcasing that emotion and enthusiasm we are used to seeing at the Ryder Cup.

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Francesco Molinari arrives in Paris playing the best golf of his career. Winner of the BMW PGA Championship and the Open Championship, Molinari utilized his steady ball striking tee to green to capture these victories. This includes deflecting a Tiger Woods final round charge at Carnoustie to hoist the Claret Jug.

Molinari will be paired with Tommy Fleetwood, a Ryder Cup rookie who has played brilliantly this season. From shooting a 64 in the final round of the U.S. Open to winning the 2017 French Open at Le Golf National, Fleetwood’s coolness under pressure will be a critical asset to possess in this Ryder Cup match.
5) Who Wins Each Match?
These four matches have the potential to produce terrific drama to open the Ryder Cup. As both the USA and Europe teams know, getting off to a strong start is crucial. When a player arriving to the first tee at the Ryder Cup, there is no messing around. Just ask Rory McIlroy, who vividly remembers his experience of coming to the first tee in his inaugural Ryder Cup appearance.

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“I still thought it was this team event that really doesn’t matter in the big scheme of things,” McIlroy said. “I was more concerned about individual titles and all that. Then I got to the first tee and I realized the magnitude of it all. It just hits you. You try and put your ball on that tee and it takes you a couple times to get it to settle on there.”
With that said, here are my predictions for the opening four matches.

Match 1: Brooks Koepka-Tony Finau vs. Justin Rose-Jon Rahm (Europe)

Match 2: Rickie Fowler-Dustin Johnson vs. Rory McIlroy-Thorbjorn Olesen (USA)

Match 3: Jordan Spieth-Justin Thomas vs. Tyrell Hatton-Paul Casey (USA)

Match 4: Tiger Woods-Patrick Reed vs. Francesco Molinari-Tommy Fleetwood (Half)

 

Score After Friday Morning Session: USA 2.5 – Europe 1.5

 

 

 The post Five Thoughts Heading into Ryder Cup Four Ball Matches appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


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