Tag:rory mcilroy
Posted on: March 4, 2012 5:37 pm

Rory McIlroy's world ranking by the numbers

Rory McIlroy walking into the history books at the Honda Classic. (Getty Images)

By Steve Elling

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- In the United Kingdom, they call it a CV, which is shorthand for curriculum vitae.

In the United States, we'd more commonly call it a resume.

By whatever title, when Rory McIlroy officially climbs to the top of the new world rankings issued on Monday, it will be a watershed achievement and yet another juicy item worthy of note on his individual highlight chart.

Here are some fast statistical, biographical and geographical facts about his rapid ascendance:

* Since the ranking was established in 1986, he's the 16th player to climb the ratings mountain, and the second-youngest at 22 years, 9 months and 29 days. 

* Only Tiger Woods, who was 21 years, 5 months and 17 days old when he first reached the pinnacle on June 15, 1997, got to the summit faster. 

* He's parked on a hot seat, to be sure. McIlroy is the fourth different player and fourth European to be ranked No. 1 since England's Lee Westwood supplanted Woods as No. 1 on Oct. 31, 2010. In this particular span, Woods held the position for 281 weeks in succession. 

* Of the 16 players to be ranked No. 1 since the ranking was first formulated, McIlroy is the eighth European and first from Northern Ireland. Only four Americans have topped the list -- Fred Couples, Tom Lehman, David Duval and Woods. 

* With his victory at the Honda Classic, McIlroy nudges aside England's Luke Donald, who held the No. 1 position for 40 weeks, the seventh-highest total number of weeks at the top since the OWGR began. Donald took over on May 29, 2011. 

* His dinner-table chatter just took a turn for the better. McIlroy and his girlfriend, tennis star Caroline Wozniacki, have both been ranked No. 1 in their respective fields of battle.
Posted on: March 4, 2012 4:53 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2012 5:00 pm

Tiger Woods reminds us he's still here

Tiger Woods swings in the final round of the Honda Classic. (Getty Images)

By Shane Bacon

There is golf, and then there is golf that involves Tiger Woods. On Sunday at the Honda Classic, it seemed we’d get the first one, a big golf tournament with a super talented field and the guy trying to take away what is Tiger’s and run with it. People were excited. The week had been great. It was Rory McIlroy’s chance to shine. 

But a funny thing happened internally for Tiger Woods. He decided to be competitive again. And no, I’m not suggesting that Tiger hasn’t wanted to win or hasn’t wanted to get better and hasn’t wanted to be the golfer he once was. His closing finish on Friday showed us that he is still a fiery guy who hates losing and wants to pull off every shot possible, no matter the circumstances.

But after his remarks about McIlroy on Saturday and his Ben Crenshaw-esque reminder that “you never know” when asked about his chances on Sunday, it seemed that something was bothering Tiger and it was time to change it. 

Let us be clear here; one round isn’t going to remake a career. The final round 62 Tiger posted on Sunday was absolutely remarkable for a number of reasons, but it really just reminded us that Tiger Golf, the events that have him in the mix, just feel different. He’s a needle-mover if there has ever been one in professional sports, and when a guy like that goes on a tear like he did at the Champions Course it forces everyone to drop what they’re doing and just stare in awe. My dad called me after Tiger’s putt dropped for eagle on 18, resulting in a double fist-pump by Woods that, frankly, has been missed by golf fans. My sister sent me a text message. I saw messages on Twitter from sports writers that I didn’t even know could spell “golf” before Sunday. 

Tiger Golf is special. It’s fun. It’s energizing. And to think, he did all this with the New Tiger, Mr. McIlroy, in total control of the tournament? Incredible. 

A lot of things happened on Sunday that were different. Tiger started a round and finished it. He made the putts he needed to make, and they weren’t just curling in putts, they were slammed in the back of the hole. He got excited. He was in the round. He was as focused as I’d seen him in ages. 

No, this 62 won’t mean much in a few months if he doesn’t win. Rory is in charge and it will be a special moment in golf for the boy wonder to land the official ranking that we’ve all been unofficially giving him for a couple of years. 

But the fact that it happened was as important to the game as one round could be. Tiger Woods played 18 holes like we all know he can, and it ended in (and I haven’t been able to use this phrase in a long time) typical Tiger fashion. 

Great stuff, Mr. Woods. Great stuff.

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Posted on: March 3, 2012 4:44 pm

Past major winners making noise at the Honda

By Shane Bacon

Leave it to one of the harder golf courses on tour to bring out some of the best from some of the best. Not only is Rory McIlroy attempting to become number one in the world with a win this week, but some of the guys we hoped would have great seasons are making this a statement week.  

You’d first have to look at Keegan Bradley, who seems to really pump his game up when the field is impressive. Keegan, who lives in the area, has been magnificant this week, and year, and has shown that 2011 isn’t going to be some fluke. 

But the two names you have to be impressed with are past major winners in Charl Schwartzel and Graeme McDowell. Schwartzel was a double-bogey on No. 11 away from posting a tournament-shifting round on Saturday, but still managed a 3-under 67 to get himself in the mix come Sunday. 

Then you have Graeme McDowell. Before there was Rory on our minds, McDowell was the stud out of Northern Ireland who won an incredible U.S. Open. McDowell had one of those special seasons in 2010, but has really struggled since the Chevron that year and has been looking to bounce back. After his 64-69 Friday and Saturday, Graeme is in the top-10 and if he keeps the momentum, might land in the top-five before the week ends. 

While this week is always going to be about Rory’s chance at number one and Tiger Woods trying to bounce back at a course near his home, some of the players making noise are the guys the tour needs to come back to raise the interest level, and so far, they’ve done their jobs. 

Check out the new Eye on Golf Facebook page and follow Shane Bacon and Eye On Golf on Twitter. 
Posted on: March 2, 2012 6:13 pm
Edited on: March 2, 2012 6:14 pm

One back, Rory still dressed to kill at Honda

By Steve Elling

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- They might have carried it a shade too far.

A couple of 20-something fans donned wigs with faux brown, curly hair on Friday and headed to the Honda Classic to back their favorite player, Rory McIlroy.

I asked one a question about when McIlroy was set to start his second round at PGA National, and one guy responded, "I tee off at 12:20."

The front of their shirts read, "Kiss Me, I'm Rory."

McIlroy himself certainly wasn't dressed as anybody other than a future world slayer, shooting a 3-under 67 to remain very much in the picture as the next player to assume the world's No. 1 ranking.

McIlroy, 22, is 7 under through 36 holes and one stroke behind co-leaders Justin Rose and Tom Gillis. With a victory, he will climb to No. 1 next week, which was apparently the message his two fans wrote on the back of their shirts.

"It had next Monday morning's world rankings -- their prediction," McIlroy laughed, describing what he'd read on their backs.

McIlroy meandered around for much of the day, missing a few chances early and then taking a long ride on the par train, before making birdies on three of the last five holes.

"You don't need to make tons of birdies, but you need to keep big numbers off your card," McIlroy said. "I know I don't have to make all of them, just a few of them."

Others seemed to make nearly everything, which compolicates the weekend task considerably for McIlroy, who joined the PGA Tour this year. Three players shot 64 to tie the Champion Course record, then lefty rookie Brian Harman shot 61 to obliterate the course mark.

Harman, 25, moved up more than 100 spots on the leaderboard. More charges from the rear guard could be in the offing unless the weather stiffens.

"A 61 around here is very, very impressive," McIlroy said.

With the projected cut at 1 over as McIlroy finished, there were more than 70 players within nine strokes of the lead on a course that, because the trademark winds have largely laid down, isn't nearly as toothy as in years past.

Category: Golf
Posted on: March 1, 2012 12:43 pm
Edited on: March 2, 2012 9:49 am

Rory McIlroy opens Honda with solid 66

Rory McIlroy talks with his caddy J.P. Fitzgerald while shooting a 66 on Thursday at the Honda Open. (Associated Press)

By Shane Bacon

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla -- On Wednesday night, I was lucky enough to spend a few minutes with Rory McIlroy. It was part of Oakley’s entire week here, and they set it up so that a lot of their players could spend some times with lowly journalists like myself. 

And above all else, the thing I took away from McIlroy was at just 22, the kid is a superstar in every sense of the word. As he was leaving dinner, the thing I kept thinking to myself was, “he’s going to win this week. I know it.” And after the first round of the Honda Classic, the prediction might not be far off. 

McIlroy shot an opening round 66 at PGA National, dropping just one shot and taming the always brutal Bear Trap along the way. He did it in the precise way that we used to a see a certain someone that is also in the field this week work. Rory picked his spots, made his birdies, and took his chances when they needed to be taken. 

People nitpick on Rory about his inability to close, like at the Masters a year ago and the Accenture just last week. Critics easily forget his work at Congressional, but above that, just look at the way he’s played the last two months. Second at the match play, fifth at Dubai, another second place finish at Abu Dhabi and a win in December in Hong Kong. 

His play of late has been scary consistent, much like his golf swing, and if he continues to put himself in a position to win, like he has this week after the Honda, the wins are going to start pouring in. 

This week has been about Tiger Woods. The press conference. His debut at this event. The fact that Tiger is playing two weeks in a row. But the real story should be McIlroy. The golf world has been looking for someone to start dominating again after a two year hiatus from such a figure, and if we’d all start opening our eyes, we’d see that someone is a curly haired kid with growing biceps and an incredible resume the last few months. 

Rory needs to win here, but more than that, we all need to just realizing what we have right in front of us. 

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Posted on: February 28, 2012 10:01 am

Rory favored over Tiger at Honda

Tiger and Rory shake hands at the Abu Dhabi event. (Getty Images)

By Shane Bacon

The thing about sports betting is that you're almost always going to lose (thanks a lot, Eli Manning), but it definitely makes sports more interesting to watch. And another thing about sports betting is that the people in Las Vegas know more about the sport than you do, and they know more about how your mind works than you do. Case and point? Tiger Woods continues to be the favorite at golf tournaments. The reason is because people are always going to put money down on Tiger because he's a name they remember and he's a guy they like to root for.

So it's interesting when you check out the Honda Classic odds (and Masters odds, for that matter) and see Rory McIlroy favored ahead of Tiger to win this week.

These are the numbers in Vegas:
  • RORY McILROY - 8/1
  • TIGER WOODS - 10/1
  • LEE WESTWOOD - 10/1
  • KYLE STANLEY - 25/1
  • BEN CRANE - 25/1 
Sure, looking at the lines in sports don't really mean anything, because it's more about the casinos winning money than putting the right person at the top, but it definitely reiterates our point that McIlroy might slowly be taking over as the main attraction in golf if Vegas thinks people would want to put money on him just as much as they would on Tiger. 

If nothing else it just defines my point about betting on golf; it's stupid and you should never do it.  

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Posted on: February 27, 2012 6:18 pm

Do high ratings mean Rory is the new Tiger?

By Shane Bacon

The ratings for the Accenture Match Play finals between Hunter Mahan and Rory McIlroy were the highest non-Tiger final since the tournament started in 1999. The numbers could have been for a few reasons (no real sports competitor with the rainout at Daytona and the NBA being on All-Star weekend), but what if it was simply because we've found the next Tiger Woods? 

Now I'm not one of those guys that sits here and searches for that person. Rory McIlroy will never be 100 percent of Tiger Woods. Tiger changed the game of golf forever, and his ability to transcend sports was exactly why he was such a big deal. But eventually someone was going to come along to be the successor of Woods. A talent that wins early, wins by a lot, and does so in the big events. 

Sure, McIlroy has fallen on his face as many times on the big stage as he has won (see 2011 Masters and the Accenture), but that many people coming to watch Rory play means that something is up, and it's a great thing for the game of golf.

If Rory can bring that many views to something like the Accenture, playing against Mahan, imagine what would happen if he found himself going head-to-head with a HUGE name in golf on the biggest stage? If Rory was to face Tiger, or Phil, or Lee or Luke in the final round of the Masters, we'd really see what the McIlroy movement would do. 

For more golf news, rumors and analysis, follow Shane Bacon and Eye On Golf on Twitter. 

Posted on: February 27, 2012 7:29 am
Edited on: February 27, 2012 6:10 pm

MMSC: Mahan, McIlroy and The Question Mark

Hunter Mahan showcases his newest hardware. (Getty Images)

By Shane Bacon

Golf is probably the hardest sport in the world to play, and play well, so it makes total sense that everyone is a critic, and that’s what we’re going to do here at Monday Morning Swing Coach. Cover just the PGA Tour? Nope. We're going to try to expand this Monday feature to anything and everything that happened the past weekend. 

A Mahan masterpiece or a McIlroy mulligan? 

The crazy thing about match play format is the fact that a lot of the times you don’t get the best “TV matchup” when you get down to the final four players. We hardly ever get the two best players in the world going against each other, and a lot of the times one of the people in the finals isn’t exactly warranting views, but it was a nice surprise when Rory McIlroy and Hunter Mahan ended up being the final two men standing in Marana. 

Mahan is a talented American who has always been a golfer to watch, and has had marginal success on the PGA Tour. McIlroy, of course, is Tiger 2.0, a kid with curly hair, a desirable golf swing and the swagger to become the best at a very young age. 

And while we didn’t really pick this as one of our hopeful matches to begin the week, it was definitely satisfying. Mahan had played some of the best golf heading into the finals and McIlroy was searching for something that would have made all the headlines if it happened. But did it turn out to be Mahan’s victory of Rory’s defeat? 

McIlroy admitted after his finals loss that grinding out a win against Lee Westwood in the semifinals might have taken more out of him than he initially thought possible, but I’m not so much into buying that as I am to think that he simply got beat by a guy playing better golf.

Mahan seemed to keep hitting the shot he needed at the right time, rolled in some clutch putts and would have beat McIlroy even worse if not for a nasty lip-out on the 16th green. Rory is the type of player that could go on Tiger-like runs with his game, but it sure doesn’t seem like he’s there quite yet.

For now, we can all enjoy the fact that an American with an equally impressive golf swing and flat-brimmed custom caps took down an incredible field and did it on his own terms. 

McIlroy will have his chance to win this tournament when he’s ready. For now, Mahan notched his third PGA Tour win in as many years, and second World Golf Championships trophy. 

The Question Mark rookie

There is something incredibly brilliant about a good nickname in sports, and a rookie that outlasted a tour vet in an eight-hole playoff at the Mayakoba Classic might have the best nickname of them all.

John Huh is a big-time player, and in his fifth career PGA Tour event, won after Robert Allenby did just about everything in his power to give Johnny Question Mark the event before a playoff even ensued. 

Allenby had a two-shot lead standing on the 18th tee, but knowing that it’s 2012 and no lead is safe, hit driver into the trees and carded a double-bogey.

Ten holes later, Huh was the champion and Allenby was left wondering how the heck he didn’t get his first PGA Tour win since 2001. 

Note to just about everyone with a big lead on the final hole; it’s okay to hit an iron off the tee. Nobody is going to make fun of the way you win if you win. Anything goes if it means you leave with the trophy. 

One Last Tiger Note

I got a lot of messages from people that mentioned something about Tiger Woods not really looking into his matches this week at the Accenture. A few people mentioned that it almost seemed like he was just working on some stuff and getting ready for this week’s Honda Classic. 

But in our Tiger Vernacular Handbook, wouldn’t that go against everything he has ever said when he talks about playing? He stays true to certain phrases, and “coming here to win” is one of his favorites. If he has some things to work on, that’s fine, but I don’t think Tiger is heading to a big event like the Accenture in hopes of practicing and “finding” something for the next week’s event.

That isn’t Tiger, and I’d be surprised if he believed that is the way to go about things. 

For more golf news, rumors and analysis, follow Shane Bacon and Eye On Golf on Twitter. 

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com