Sport Golf

Thursday 22 February 2018

McIlroy's bit of Argy-bargy sets tone for bad weekend

Damien McGrane won't be taking part in the UBS Hong Kong Open
Damien McGrane won't be taking part in the UBS Hong Kong Open
Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

Emiliano Grillo was the first Argentinian to startle an Irishman last weekend - but sadly, he was not the last.

Grillo jumped the gun and fired his approach shot to the par-four 17th at the Silverado (North) golf course in the Frys.Com Open last Saturday before Rory McIlroy and his playing partners Adam Hadwin and Kyle Reifers had cleared the green.

McIlroy jumped out of the way as Grillo's ball bounced beside him and careered through to the back of the green.

To say he was not impressed was putting it mildly, but whatever might have been said privately afterwards, McIlroy made light of the incident publicly.

Asked had he found it scary, he responded with gallows humour.

"Missed me by a couple inches. Would have put me out of my misery out there a little bit, to be honest with you," he said.

Grillo (23) from the appropriately named Resistencia in Argentina, tried to apologise, and was relieved that his play-off victory on Sunday in which he defeated Kevin Na made the headlines.

"I wasn't able to find him (McIlroy). I almost actually ran a few fairways across to apologise to him. I didn't want to be the guy who almost hit Rory McIlroy this week," he said.

"I kind of wanted to have this trophy, and everybody to know me because I have the trophy, and not because I almost hit him."

Sport has an uncanny way of catching individuals and teams on a rising tide, and Sunday was a truly magical day for Argentina in golf and rugby.

Meanwhile McIlroy turns his focus to winning the Race To Dubai and his next tournament, the Turkish Airlines Open at Antalya from October 29 to November 1.

"I'm looking at the three tournaments I've got coming up, which are important to me because I want to try to win the Race to Dubai again," he said.

After Turkey, the World No 3 plays the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai, and finishes with the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai (November 19-22).

Padraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell, Peter Lawrie and Kevin Phelan are in action in the UBS Hong Kong Open, which starts on Thursday at Fanling GC.

Lawrie and Phelan are in the last chance saloon as regards claiming a Tour card for 2016 at Hong Kong.

One player who won't be there is Tour veteran Damien McGrane (below).

The 44-year-old is taking time out to assess his future and signed off his 2015 campaign with a tied-29 finish in the Portugal Masters last Sunday.

McGrane has been an ever-present on the circuit since 2003.

The career highlight was his 2008 victory in the Volvo China Open but in the last year or so, the game has lost its lustre.

"I suppose I've just lost a bit of the appetite for it. I don't look forward to playing golf," he confessed.

"I don't know if I take time out if I'll be happy to be out of the industry, or whether I'll actually miss it, and want to get back out there and try my luck.

"I'll just take it easy and see what happens."

Irish Independent

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