Rory McIlroy Adds Honda Classic to Busy Spring Schedule

There were plenty of highlights over the past year on the course, from thrilling tournament conclusions to heart-stopping drama at majors. Golf fans were granted a bevy of impressive champions, each with a unique story that led them to the winner’s circle.

But what if the many-dimpled ball had bounced in a slightly different direction? How might the landscape have shifted with minor changes in some of the biggest tournaments of the year?

Without further ado, a look at five of the biggest “what-ifs” from the year in golf:

What if…the Royal Birkdale driving range was out of bounds?

The lore of Jordan Spieth’s Open triumph will always be inextricably linked to the chaotic scene that played out to the right of the 13th fairway during the final round. Spieth had sprayed his drive wildly off-line, but he had the wherewithal to realize that he could take a penalty drop on the adjacent driving range. He managed to save bogey and jump-started an electric finish that earned him the claret jug.

But at many tournament courses, the driving range is considered out of bounds. Had the range been off-limits, Spieth would have either had to take a risky drop on an enormous hillside, setting up a blind and difficult third shot, or trudge back to the tee to take another crack at one of the hardest holes Birkdale had to offer.

At that point even a double bogey would have been a noble goal, meaning Matt Kuchar would have walked to the 14th tee with at least a two-shot lead –  en route to what would have been a breakthrough major title.

What if…Dustin Johnson didn’t slip?

This will likely go down as one of the bigger hypotheticals in recent memory, as an 11th-hour freak injury kept the world No. 1 from playing in the Masters and derailed the momentum he accrued by winning each of his last three starts leading down Magnolia Lane.

Johnson was the man to beat for nearly the entire spring, and without a back injury sustained on the eve of the opening round he would have maintained that status throughout the season’s first major. Instead of Sergio Garcia, it would have been Johnson facing off with Justin Rose down the stretch, each vying for green jacket No. 1 and major No. 2.

Johnson still won four times in 2017, but the floodgates would have opened for a truly historic year with a Masters triumph. And Garcia would probably still be viewed as the best player without a major.

What if…Lexi Thompson had marked her ball correctly?

The biggest rules controversy of the year played out at the ANA Inspiration, where Lexi Thompson was assessed a retroactive, four-shot penalty in the middle of the final round for improperly marking her ball the day prior. A phone call from a TV viewer fundamentally altered the outcome of a major championship, as Thompson went on to lose a playoff to So Yeon Ryu.

While Ryu’s name was etched on the trophy, the tournament was Thompson’s to lose – and she wouldn’t have lost it without the penalty. A proper mark would have led to her second win in four years at Mission Hills, and it would have kicked off a torrid season that still netted her the $1 million Race to the CME Globe bonus despite her controversial runner-up.

It would have even meant a little less scar tissue lingering over Thompson as she addressed the 2-foot putt at the season finale in Naples that would have taken her to world No. 1 for the first time.

What if…Jason Day had chipped out?

The Aussie was still in the hunt at the PGA Championship, four shots off the lead when disaster struck on the final hole of his third round. An errant drive onto pine straw led to an ambitious rescue attempt through the trees, one that backfired and led to a quadruple bogey. Any hopes of a second major title vanished in the span of 15 minutes.

While Day still would have faced an uphill battle in the final round, a simple pitch back to the fairway would have likely resulted in bogey at worse. Day would have remained within arm’s length of Kevin Kisner, who went on to bogey the same hole, and would have been an intimidating presence on a leaderboard filled with first-time major hopefuls.

In the end, Justin Thomas’ run to the Wanamaker Trophy may have continued uninterrupted. But Day’s chances would have been kept alive for a win that would have turned around an otherwise disappointing season – and perhaps salvaged his partnership with caddie Col Swatton, which ended a month later.

What if…Brian Gay didn’t crunch the numbers?

Granted, this one didn’t impact the outcome of a major. But Ian Poulter’s resurgent season, highlighted by his runner-up finish at The Players, would have never happened without some number-crunching from Gay and his wife, Kimberly.

When Poulter missed the cut at the Valero Texas Open in April, he believed that he had exhausted his major medical extension without earning enough FedExCup points to keep his PGA Tour card. But after the Gays unearthed an issue with the Tour’s math, the status of both players was adjusted and the Englishman wasted little time in putting his reinstated card to use.

Without a mathematical assist from Gay, Poulter would have been scrapping for playing opportunities all summer long while trying to keep pace with players nearly half his age. Instead, he’ll end the year knocking on the door of the OWGR top 50, with a return to the Masters within reach and a spot on next year’s European Ryder Cup team in Paris a very real possibility.

Tiger Woods thanks Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy and Daniel Berger

NASSAU, Bahamas – Tiger Woods has appeared in great spirits all week. From his practice rounds to the pro-am to the first round, Woods seems truly happy to be walking back inside the ropes with his PGA Tour brethren.

Like it or not, this week is about Woods. It’s about him being back for the first time in 301 days. It’s about him being able to compete at his tournament. Everyone here, including the players, realize this.

On Tuesday, Justin Thomas, the reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year, was asked about Woods five times before he was asked a question about himself.

And on Thursday, after matching Woods’ opening 69, Thomas walked to the assembled media and asked a question of his own: “What do you want to talk about?”

He knew the Woods questions were coming, and he was more than happy to answer them.

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Full-field scores from the Hero World Challenge

It’s been more of the same from everyone here at Albany.

“I just want him to come here and play solid golf and be healthy and feel good where he’s going to be able to go play some of the West Coast to start the year,” Rickie Fowler said.

Matt Kuchar, who has shared a number of U.S. team rooms with Woods, was asked if he spent any of his day peaking at leaderboards to check on Tiger.

“Absolutely, we wanted the Tiger Woods update. On every hole we were trying to find an update,” said Kuchar, who played alongside Jordan Spieth. “We were asking some of the microphone guys for an update. Certainly I think everybody was excited and couldn’t wait to see how he would do.”

After his round, Woods credited some of his South Florida tour pro buddies with helping him get ready to play this week. You could tell it meant a lot to him that the younger guys, those who looked up to Woods for the past 20 years, were willing to push Woods in any way possible.

“The guys have been great, from JT to Berger to Rory to all the guys, Rickie, DJ,” Woods said after his opening round. “I played with all of them, and they’re all trying to help me. They’re all texting me, ‘Come on, let’s go out and play. Let’s go play for some dollars and have a good time.’ They really want to help me and come back and play.”

One thing Woods specifically needed help with was club distances. So he used Fowler as a measuring stick.

“I didn’t know how far I was hitting clubs,” Woods said. “When I left the game, I was much shorter than Rickie and next thing you know I’m about the same length. So it was nice to be able to play rounds of golf with those guys.”

Rory McIlroy quivers in pain as he planks for Gary Player

  • Rory McIlroy and Martin Kaymer have taken part in the #Plank4Player challenge
  • Task involves people holding the plank position to mark Gary Player’s birthday
  • Golfing legend and nine-time major winner turned 82 on Wednesday

Max Winters For Mailonline

Rory McIlroy and Martin Kaymer have taken to social media to share their attempts at a fitness-based challenge to pay tribute to golf legend Gary Player on his 82nd birthday.

The South African, renowned for keeping himself in superb physical condition, won nine major titles in a glittering career but it is his dedication to keeping fit in his senior years that was the subject of McIlroy and Kaymer’s birthday messages.

The #PLANK4Player campaign encourages people to complete the core strength exercise, which involves holding a static position similar to a push-up for 82 seconds to mark Player’s age. 

Rory McIlroy posted a video of him planking to celebrate Gary Player's birthday

Rory McIlroy posted a video of him planking to celebrate Gary Player's birthday

Rory McIlroy posted a video of him planking to celebrate Gary Player’s birthday

Gary Player has been a vocal supporter of the benefits of having good core strength in golf

Gary Player has been a vocal supporter of the benefits of having good core strength in golf

Gary Player has been a vocal supporter of the benefits of having good core strength in golf

McIlroy can be seen struggling as the pain begins to intensify while holding the pose

McIlroy can be seen struggling as the pain begins to intensify while holding the pose

McIlroy can be seen struggling as the pain begins to intensify while holding the pose

In his Instagram post, McIlroy assumes the plank position but struggles to maintain it as his body begins to shake under the pressure.

‘At the end of my gym session I remembered it was @gary.player 82nd birthday today,’ the Northern Irishman wrote.

‘What better way to honour the legend and pioneer of fitness for golf than doing a plank.

‘Hopefully everyone can join me today and #PLANK4Player to honor the great man!’

Martin Kaymer also posted a photo on social media of him getting involved with the gesture

Martin Kaymer also posted a photo on social media of him getting involved with the gesture

Martin Kaymer also posted a photo on social media of him getting involved with the gesture

 McIlroy credited Player as the reason for transforming his fitness regime many years ago

 McIlroy credited Player as the reason for transforming his fitness regime many years ago

 McIlroy credited Player as the reason for transforming his fitness regime many years ago

Kaymer’s attempt is only limited to a photo but his claim of a time of 164 seconds is impressive.

The German and McIlroy were joined in taking part by American professional golfer and TV personality Blair O’Neal.

She posted a short video of herself holding the pose in the ocean while simultaneously reading Player’s ‘Black Book’. 

McIlroy is currently enjoying a three-month winter break after a disappointing, injury-ravaged season saw him drop to ninth in the world rankings.

The 28-year-old four-time major champion has vowed to return stronger than ever though and set his sights on becoming the best non-American golfer of all time.  

‘If I had a career goal, it would be to be the best international golfer ever. Gary Player has nine majors. I’d like to think I’m going to give myself a chance to get close to that tally,’ the former world No 1 told British media last month.

McIlroy has previously credited Player with transforming his fitness regime after the South African questioned his weight a number of years ago.

Player is a fitness machine and was still performing 1,300 sit-ups and pushing 300lb on a leg machine at the age of 80.

Rory McIlroy drops to worst World Golf Ranking in over three years

Rory McIlroy World Golf Ranking is at its lowest ebb since May 2014.

He’s down three places to ninth as his 2017 season has been hampered by injury.

The drops comes after Justin Rose produced a brilliant finish to take advantage of a stunning collapse from world number one Dustin Johnson and win the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai.

Rose’s second WGC title lifts him from 13th in the world to sixth, with Koepka and Stenson now seventh and eighth respectively, pushing the absent McIlroy down to ninth.

Fellow Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell dropped five places to 162nd in the World, Michael Hoey is down to 602nd, just ahead of Jonathan Caldwell in 617th. Dermot McElroy is 837th with Cormac Sharvin at 1,115th and Darren Clarke out at 1,256th.

World number one Johnson is ahead of second placed Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas in third, Hideki Matsuyama, Jon Rahm, Rose, Koepka, Stenson, McIlroy and Rickie Fowler completing the top ten.

Rose began the final round in Shanghai eight shots behind Johnson and was still six adrift at the turn, but fired five birdies in a back nine of 31 to complete a closing 67, with Johnson slumping to a 77.

At 14 under par, Rose finished two shots ahead of Ryder Cup partner Henrik Stenson, Brooks Koepka and Johnson, who had started the day with a six-shot lead in pursuit of a record third World Golf Championship victory this year.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Rose, whose chances looked to have disappeared when he bogeyed the eighth and ninth to reach the turn in level par.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve won, or at least it feels like that. I’ve won every year since 2010, if you include the Olympics last year. I’ve left it late this year but it feels amazing.

“Obviously we all know the position DJ was in and I think today was the kind of day that the leader probably didn’t want. You want a six-shot lead any time, but this is the kind of day where that kind of swing is possible.

“To shoot 31 on the back to come through, I saved my best till last.”

Belfast Telegraph

Rory McIlroy has got his putting fixed j…

McIlroy is putting in the hard work on the greens.

Andy Roberts's picture

Submitted by Andy Roberts on


Rory McIlroy would be the first to admit he did not putt well enough in 2017, ranking 140th in strokes gained putting on the PGA Tour (-.143).

But the Northern Irishman certainly looks to be addressing the issue during his off season, which has started already.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking… it’s a tough life working on your putting on some exotic golf course abroad with millions in the bank.

Check out McIlroy’s nifty gate and green reading drill on the putting green, which he revealed on his official Instagram page, signing off with #progress…



This drill is not dissimilar to the one our resident PGA pro Adam Glass showed us earlier in the season…

McIlroy, winless since landing the 2016 FedEx Cup with victory at the Tour Championship at East Lake more than 12 months ago, is not scheduled to appear again in competition until 2018. 

Here’s a look at McIlroy’s putting stats on the PGA Tour last season, which don’t make for particularly pleasant reading for the Ulsterman…



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