Blog Entry

Rory glory blocked by unsung Bae?

Posted on: February 24, 2012 7:46 pm
Edited on: February 24, 2012 7:47 pm

By Steve Elling

MARANA, Ariz. -- Rory McIlroy's path to the final four, not to mention the world No. 1 position, is blocked by a familiar face ... sort of.

Now the tournament favorite, McIlroy will face largely unheralded rookie Sang-moon Bae on Saturday in the fourth round of the Accenture Match Play Championship, and while Bae is a new face on the PGA Tour, he's been around for a while.

In fact, McIlroy played alongside the powerful South Korean at the 2009 Korean Open in the final round, in the final group, and watched as Bae blew past him with a 4-under 67 to win. McIlroy shot 72 and finished T3 after starting the final day tied for the lead.

Bae, now 25, was one back of the leaders after three rounds, and took control of the tournament when he made three birdies in a row starting on the 11th. Bae earned his PGA Tour card last fall by finishing T8 at Qualifying School after three solid years on the Japan Tour, including topping the money list last year.

McIlroy, 22, is seeing to become the youngest winner at both the Accenture tournament and a World Golf Championships event. He dispatched Miguel Angel Jimenez on Friday, 3 and 1. Bae outlasted John Senden, 1 up, despite the fact that he had never before played in a match-play event.

"It's match play, so I only try to focus on my game, that's it," Bae said.

With a win, McIlroy can supplant Luke Donald as No. 1 in the world. He had little trouble with Jimenez, his former Ryder Cup teammate. McIlroy knocked five approach shots within seven feet of the flag on the front nine and jumped to an early 3-up lead.

Category: Golf

Since: Sep 19, 2011
Posted on: February 25, 2012 5:03 pm

Rory glory blocked by unsung Bae?

Keep your fingers crossed!

Since: Sep 19, 2011
Posted on: February 25, 2012 7:03 am

Rory glory blocked by unsung Bae?

The Belfast Telegraph reports that the crowd was backing Rory yesterday.  Hardly surprising.  What surprised me is that the Golf Channel's on-course annoucer made the claim that the gallery was backing Jimenez.

Am I imagining things or does the GC have a bias against Young Mister McIlroy?  It seems like they go out of their way to ignore him.  Do they fear his popularity rises inversely to Woods' and therefore strive to play down Rory as another of their methods of propping up Woods?  They need to let that go.  Like Nick said, Model I is gone for good; time to adjust.

Since: Sep 19, 2011
Posted on: February 24, 2012 11:28 pm

Rory glory blocked by unsung Bae?

Oops, I accidentally credited Shane for that piece instead of Steve Elling.  Sorry, Mister Elling.  It's late and the eyes are tired...

Since: Sep 19, 2011
Posted on: February 24, 2012 11:26 pm

Rory glory blocked by unsung Bae?

Good stuff, Shane.  Interesting they had that prior matchup.  Rory must have 18, maybe 19.  I'm worried about this one.  Rory has not been exactly sparkling, and Bae has really been clutch.  Rory and Moon, along with Westwood, are probably my favorite players left in this event.  Too bad they are meeting tomorrow.  On the other hand, even if Rory should fall, I'll still have a big rooting interest.  Oh, well, it's also kind of bad for Mahan and Kuch to play each other tomorrow, but hey, they seed by OWGR so it is what it is.

Westwood has no bargain with Laird tomorrow, either.  I find this side of the bracket more compelling than the "American side," truth be told.  Rory is the biggest favorite tomorrow, and Westwoods second biggest, but I think bookmakers are adjusting to public perception and the public probably is unaware of Laird's and Bae's great form this week.  Bae is nearly 2-1 against Rory for tomorrow's 18 holes.  Kuch a slight fave over Mahan, and Hanson even a slighter fave over Wilson.

I just noticed the first two matches go off tomorrow, then two hours pass before the last two matches.  That should make for much better coverage than we've gotten these first three days.  I'm really looking forward to Saturday, and I really hope both Lee and Rory can both advance.  That would set up an incredible morning match, and assure a compelling final as well. 

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