pixel 1
header
Friday, November 22, 2019

Golf

Brooks Koepka has great reason for not viewing Rory McIlroy as rival

Brooks Koepka

Brooks Koepka offered a great quote for why he does not view himself as having a rivalry with Rory McIlroy despite the two being the top-ranked golfers in the world.

Koepka shared his answer with the AFP ahead of this week’s CJ Cup, and it was a good one.

“I’ve been out here for what, five years. Rory hasn’t won a major since I’ve been on the PGA Tour,” Koepka told the AFP. “So I don’t view it as a rivalry.”

You really can’t argue with that. Yes, they both may have won three times on tour this year, and they each have four majors, but McIlroy hasn’t won a major since 2014. He’s had eight top-10 finishes, but no major wins since then. He also has failed to make the cut four times.

In that same span, Koepka has won all four of his majors, missed no cuts, and finished in the top four of all four majors this year. Koepka has come on strong and has been the top golfer recently when it comes to the biggest events.

However, the two split head-to-head, with Koepka winning the World Golf Championship in Memphis and McIlroy winning the Tour Championship for the FedEx Cup. McIlroy still had an excellent year.

None of that changes Koepka’s mentality.

“I’m No. 1 in the world. I’ve got open road in front of me. I’m not looking in the rearview mirror, so I don’t see it as a rivalry,” Koepka said.

You have to love his attitude and confidence. That’s a big part of what makes him great.

Rafael Nadal: Playing in front of Tiger Woods is ‘honor’

Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal won his fourth round match at the US Open on Monday night, and he captured victory in front of a packed Arthur Ashe Stadium that included one very special guest: Tiger Woods.

Woods and Nadal are both Nike-sponsored athletes in individual sports and among the best players in the history of their games. Tiger was really getting into things while cheering on his buddy:

Nadal, who beat Marin Cilic 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2, was asked in his post-match interview with ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi what it was like playing in front of Woods. Nadal was effusive with his praise for Woods.

“For me it’s a huge honor. To play in front of all of [the fans] is a huge honor, but to play in front of Tiger for me is a very special thing,” Nadal said. “I always said I never had big idols, but I have to say one idol is him. I always try to follow every shot he hit during the whole year. For me it’s a big pleasure to have him here supporting, means a lot. He’s a big legend of his sport, one of the legends of the sport. I want to congratulate him on one of the most amazing comebacks ever, winning the Masters this year.”

Rinaldi then asked Rafa if the two had ever played golf together, leading to a joke from the Spaniard.

“It’s much better if Tiger doesn’t see my swing.”

Woods was watching the match from a suite in the stadium. He was joined by his son, daughter and girlfriend Erica Herman.

The quarterfinals of the major are now set. Nadal will face Diego Schwartzman for a shot at reaching the semifinals.

Michelle Wie marries Warriors executive Jonnie West

Michelle Wie Jonnie West

Michelle Wie tied the knot on Saturday with her boyfriend Jonnie West.

The golfer and Golden State Warriors executive got married in Beverly Hills, Calif. Some guests in attendance shared photos of the wedding on social media.

Wie, 29, and West, 31, first went public about their relationship in January.

West, whose father is Hall of Famer Jerry West, serves as the Warriors’ director of basketball operations. He began working with the Warriors’ G League team in 2012 and has worked with the Warriors since 2015. He has said in the past that his goal is to become a general manager.

Wie has been in the spotlight since her pre-teen years due to her status as a youth golf prodigy. She received attention when she turned pro at 16, something she does not regret. Wie has won five LPGA Tour events, including the US Women’s Open in 2014. She announced in June that she was taking the rest of the year off from golfing.

Bryson DeChambeau on slow play critics: I already ‘play fast enough’

Bryson DeChambeau

Bryson DeChambeau has been irritated by all the criticism he’s received over his pace of play and is defending himself.

DeChambeau’s slow play became an issue this week after video circulated of him taking two minutes to hit an 8-foot putt at The Northern Trust in Jersey City, New Jersey on Friday. Justin Thomas, who was paired with DeChambeau for the first two rounds of the event, called DeChambeau a “slow golfer” and said he needs to be faster.

“I should have just said something to him in person. I didn’t say anything on social media,” Thomas said, via Golf Channel. “I like Bryson as a person but he’s a slow golfer. A lot of people I like that are just slow. They need to play faster.”

DeChambeau’s slow play has been a topic all year. In January, Brooks Koepka said he didn’t understand why DeChambeau takes so long on some of his shots. DeChambeau and Koepka ended up talking Sunday morning to sort things out:

Golf Digest posted a photo and quote on Instagram Sunday about the talk between DeChambeau and Koepka. A fan asked DeChambeau in the comments section of the post whether he was “going to play faster or not?”

DeChambeau wrote back, saying “already play fast enough. Some situations take longer than others. That putt on 8 was way too long I agree!”

Well, that is some progress. He acknowledged he took too long on that particular putt, though he doesn’t believe he poses a problem otherwise. Several golfers feel differently.

Tiger Woods has oblique injury, withdraws from first round of FedEx playoffs

Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods has enjoyed a great season in which he finally broke through and won another major, but his health is once again creating issues for him.

Woods withdrew from The Northern Trust — the first round of the FedExCup Playoffs — on Friday. The official reason listed is a “mild oblique strain that led to pain and stiffness,” which could help explain why he struggled so much at the tournament on Thursday.

Woods shot a 4-over 75 at Liberty National on Thursday. While he did not appear to show any signs of discomfort, he hinted that he was not feeling his best while speaking with reporters after the round.

“It just feels frustrating to shoot anything high no matter how I feel,” Woods said. “We had the perfect greens and had to go out there and shoot something under-par and get it going. Had to be 4-, 5-, 6-under par today. I went the other way with it.”

Tiger entered The Northern Trust 28th in the FedExCup Standings, and he is secure for the BMW Championship next week even after withdrawing. It remains to be seen if his health will cooperate enough, however.

Woods has had numerous back surgeries and dealt with several injuries in recent years, and there was some speculation that he was in pain at The Open Championship last month. He admitted more than two years ago that he will never be back to 100 percent health, so playing through injuries is something he has grown accustomed to at age 43.

Rory McIlroy: Legalized sports betting could increase hecklers in golf

Rory McIlroy

Sports betting is expected to be legalized across more US states in the coming years, and that presents a multitude of issues that professional sports organizations will have to keep an eye on. Rory McIlroy is anticipating at least one significant one for the PGA Tour.

During a recent episode of The Golf Channel’s “Rory & Carson Podcast,” McIlroy spoke about the issue Ian Poulter had at the WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational in Memphis last month when a fan Poulter described as an “idiot” openly rooted for his approach shot on the 18th hole to find its way into a bunker. McIlroy said that is an unfortunate part of the sport, and he thinks it could become more prevalent with the legalization of sports gambling.

“I think that’s going to be one of the big things about golf and legalizing sports betting in this country. What is going to happen is you will see more of this (heckling) stuff occurring because there are going to be those who have bet against you, and the guy you are playing with,” McIlroy said, as transcribed by Tony Leen of the Irish Examiner. “Whether it’s the fantasy (golf game) or just sports betting, they’re going to want to try and alter the result because they will potentially either make or lose money from it.”

McIlroy may have a point, but that has been going on at sporting events for a very, very long time. Sports betting has been legal in Nevada for many years, and there is no shortage of bookies, online gambling sites, or other avenues for fans to place bets. Could it make the problem worse? Sure, but that’s not a new concept.

Golf has become increasingly popular among younger fans (think college age) in recent years, and that has led to more unruly behavior during tournaments. Poulter also gets heckled more than the average golfer because he has always been very outspoken and loves playing the role of heel at the Ryder Cup. While McIlroy’s prediction about sports gambling may prove to be accurate, there are plenty of other factors that lead to fans behaving inappropriately. Poulter’s flamboyant personality is one of them, and he brought a lot of that on himself.

Shane Lowry, dad Brendan share awesome moment after Open victory

Shane Lowry put the finishing touches on a magical week at The Open Championship on Sunday, and no one was more excited about the victory than his old man.

Lowry’s father, Brendan, was probably the most animated person at the 18th green as Shane closed out his final round at Royal Portrush. The two shared an awesome moment as Lowry walked off the green.

What made the win so special is that the Open was held in Northern Ireland this year. Lowry and his family are from neighboring Ireland, but he had plenty of support from the 200,000-plus fans who attended the event throughout the week and weekend.

Brendan Lowry is actually famous in his own right, as he was a popular Gaelic football player in the 1980s. Watching him and Shane celebrate together was one of the best moments of the 2019 Open Championship.