Friday 15 November 2019

Rory McIlroy: Club flinging not one of my proudest moments

Rory McIlroy shows his frustration during his second round in Doral
Rory McIlroy shows his frustration during his second round in Doral

Karl MacGinty

How far does your 3-iron go, Rory? At Doral yesterday it flew a good 70 yards into the lake left of the par-five eighth!

Rory McIlroy’s patience snapped after he pulled his 226 yard approach shot left of the green and into the water.

After a momentary pause, he tossed the offending club in after it with as much finesse as fury. Indeed, his polished throw would not have looked out of place in the Olympic arena.

That had been the second ball McIlroy hit into the water as he endured jaw-grinding frustration in the early stages of his second round at the Cadillac, though he rallied bravely for a fighting 70.

Asked what the distance was on eight after this round, McIlroy quipped: “The second shot or the throw? It must have been a good 60 to 70 yards, I think.

“It felt good at the time,” said McIlroy after his round. “Look, I just let my frustration get the better of me. It was the heat of the moment.

“If it had been any other club, I probably wouldn’t have thrown it but I didn’t need the 3-iron for the rest of the round, so I thought why not.

It wasn’t one of my proudest moments but I walked away with a bogey six and regrouped and did okay from then.”

Though McIlroy almost certainly will be fined by the US Tour for this transgression, he earned more sympathy than admonishment from his fellow professionals, many of whom admitted taking similar action themselves.

"I can understand Rory throwing a club as it's the most frustrating game ever," said Australian Adam Scott. "So I am not surprised to learn he's thrown a club as we've all done it whether your a pro or just playing at your local club on a weekend.

"It's shocking when you see it from a leading Tour player but it's a brutal game and tell me who hasn't thrown a club,” he added. "I threw one back home in Australia about four years ago just playing a social round and I wasn't even playing in a match.

"But then I have to say it felt good.  Though I didn't throw it forward as Tommy Bolt use to recommend and actually made the mistake of throwing it backwards," joked Scott.

McIlroy’s playing companions Henrik Stenson and Bubba Watson claimed, Wenger-style, that they hadn’t seen a thing.

“Well it’s hot out there and we’re sweating a lot. Obviously Rory’s practice swing didn’t work out and the club kind of ended up in the water,” said the Swede, adding with a smile: “Iit’s a big issue that we don’t have enough baby powder out there.”

Reigning Masters Champion Watson I thought it was a practice swing and his grip was wet. I don’t have any comments on that because we all get frustrated. So there’s no reason to say anything negative about it.”

McIlroy’s pal Rickie Fowler wanted to know “what was the hang time” on the throw

Holywood’s World No 1  was “pissed off” to miss the cut at Honda last week in his first US appearance of 2015 and admitted being “cheesed off” by a wayward first round 73 here on Thursday.

Yet the 25-year-old seemed to leave all that behind him as he opened his second round with two straight birdies. Then he pushed his tee shot at three into the water on the way to the first of infuriating back-to-back bogeys, the second coming by way of a three putt from 47 feet.

It all became too much for the off-colour World No 1 in the fairway at eight, where he made eagle three in the first round.

Not since Sunday at the US Open at Merion in 2013, midway through the most fraught season of his career, have we seen such histrionics from McIlroy. Back then, he threw one club and bent another out of shape.

After getting 2015 off to a fine start with victory in Dubai, McIlroy’s swing was out of kilter in the gusting winds at Honda and once again on Doral’s wide-open fairways on Thursday, when he admitted to feeling “tentative”.

As the breeze dropped to a whisper yesterday, he was expected to call ‘The Blue Monster’ to heel but instead became increasingly impatient as a series of treacherous pins defied his best efforts.

As his expectations soar in anticipation of next month’s bid for a career Grand Slam at the Masters, yesterday’s faux pas on the eighth fairway appears indicative of the pressure mounting on McIlroy.

After venting on eight, where he made bogey six, McIlroy picked up birdie fours at 10 and 12, then rebounded from a bogey at 14 with his sixth birdie of the day at 17 to claim a share of 11th place on one-under through 36 holes, eight behind leader JB Holmes.

In keeping with US Tour policy of not disclosing disciplinary measures against golfers, any penalty incurred by McIlroy will not be made public.

A new Nike 3-iron was winging it's way overnight from their Texas HQ in Fort Worth after members of McIlroy’s management team contacted them within half an hour of the incident.

Shane Lowry also offered his sympathy: “I gave one the same (treatment) myself in China at the end of last year.

I mean, that’s what this golf course will do to you lads.”

The Clara man's own second round 74 came to a frustrating conclusion with a bogey five at 18 that left him tied-23rd on one-over.

Lowry was delighted with his driving and a hot putter but said he needed to sharpen up on his iron play and chipping to contend for a high top-10 finish this weekend. Graeme McDowell shared 29th on two-over after back-to-back 73's.

Scott has dumped his broom-handle but once again performed splendidly with a conventional putter during the second round 68 that left him third on six under.

Holmes found the going tougher yesterday than in Thursday's 62 and a double-bogey six after driving into the water on 18, The Blue Monster itself, left him with a 73 and three ahead of his closest challenger Ryan Moore. 

WGC Cadillac, Live, Sky Sports 4, 5.0pm

 

Phelan drops off the pace in East London

Kevin Phelan dropped to six shots off the lead on the second day of the Africa Open after a frustrating level-par round of 72 at East London Golf Club.

The Waterford man held a share of the lead overnight lead and started superbly with an eagle at the third; however, he gave those two shots back with consecutive bogeys in the two holes before the turn.

Seven pars, a birdie and a bogey brought him back in even par, but he now lies six shots off leader Matt Ford, who carded a 66.

There was better news for Darren Clarke, who added a 68 to his opening 72 to lie in joint 24th.

Clarke was inconsistent in his round but struck while the iron was hot with four birdies in his opening five holes. However, like Phelan, two bogeys before the turn broke his momentum.

Clarke did recover with two birdies on the back nine but will need a charge similar to the one which started his round yesterday if he is to get into contention.

England's Ford took advantage of calmer conditions for the morning starters to card six birdies and an eagle, with his only blemishes coming on the ninth and 17th.

Ford was about to spend a winter working for Royal Mail before coming through November's European Tour qualifying school at the 10th attempt.

Africa Open, Live, Sky Sports 4, 10.30am

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