Sunday 18 February 2018

MacGinty: Finishing in top 10 not good enough – McIlroy

Rory McIlroy of Nothern Ireland hits a tee shot on the 14th hole during the third round of the Wells Fargo Championship
Rory McIlroy of Nothern Ireland hits a tee shot on the 14th hole during the third round of the Wells Fargo Championship

Karl MacGinty

RORY McILROY has finished in the top 10 in six of eight tournaments this year, but he didn't do cartwheels down I-95 to Ponte Vedra Beach in Florida for this week's $10m Players Championship at Sawgrass.

"I'm in the top 10 every week and it's fine, whatever, but it's not wins," he said of Sunday's eighth place behind JB Holmes in the Wells Fargo.

Frustration showed as he added: "They're top-10s without getting in contention either. I don't want to back-door and top-10 it every week."

Quail Hollow is far better suited to his monster driving than Pete Dye's capricious Stadium Course, where McIlroy learned through bitter experience to throttle back and forsake his best weapon, the driver, on many holes.

Yet he neatly picked his way around Sawgrass last year, making the cut for the first time in five appearances and finishing eighth in golf's 'Fifth Major'.

Padraig Harrington, runner-up here to Davis Love III in 2003 and Adam Scott in 2004, is ineligible after a rule change.

Formerly, his 125 placing in the 2013 US money list would have sufficed but FedEx now are the arbiter and Harrington was 130th in that table last season.

The struggling Dubliner, down to 206th and out of the world top 200 yesterday for the first time in 938 weeks since his rookie season in 1996, had an unbroken 12 years at the Players since 2002.

Graeme McDowell, who led into the final round in 2011 but hasn't made the cut here since, is hungry to make this a lucky seventh appearance, while Darren Clarke, sixth in 2003, marks his 10th visit to Sawgrass and first since 2006.

The course was battered last winter. Five putting surfaces were damaged by a product designed to protect them and the fourth, 11th and 12th greens were still out of play during practice yesterday.

Irish Independent

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