Rory McIlroy says remarks about Tiger Woods out of order
McIlroy shoots 65 in China to hold two-shot lead after first round
Rory McIlroy during yesterday’s first round of the HSBC Champions tournament at the Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai, China. The Northern Ireland star shot a 65 to lead by two shots after the first round.
Golf Channel television pundit Brandel Chamblee was out of order earlier this month when he implied world number one Tiger Woods had cheated, Rory McIlroy said yesterday.
In a column, former US PGA Tour winner Chamblee graded several golfers for their seasons. Of Woods, he wrote: “He won five times and contended in Majors and won the Vardon (Player of the Year) Trophy and . . . how shall we say this . . . was a little cavalier with the rules”.
Woods has threatened to sue Chamblee over his remarks and world number six McIlroy jumped to the defence of the 14-times Major champion by urging the Golf Channel to take action against the pundit.
“He was out of line and something should be done about it (by) the Golf Channel, that’s who Brandel is employed by and they are the ones that can deal with it,” the Northern Irishman told reporters after taking the first-round lead at the WGC-HSBC Champions Tournament.
“I’ll let the Golf Channel executives think what the right way is,” added McIlroy, referring to Chamblee’s full-time employer although the comments were made on golf.com which is not affiliated to the TV network.
American Chamblee, who has been an outspoken critic of Woods’s swing, has already announced he will stop his golf.com column at the end of the year and instead write only for golfchannel.com.
Woods has been involved in a few rules controversies this season, most notably at the US Masters in April where he dropped his ball in an incorrect spot after taking a penalty from a hazard at the 15th hole.
The 37-year-old American was given a retrospective two-stroke penalty. Organisers allowed the infraction to go unpunished on the day it occurred before a Masters official received a telephone call about the violation from former US Golf Association rules director David Eger.
Meanwhile, McIlroy enjoyed one of his best rounds of a disappointing season to storm into a two-shot lead over a star-studded field at the $8.5 million tournament in Shanghai yesterday.
Displaying a deft short game with a new lob wedge, McIlroy reeled off eight birdies en route to a first round seven-under-par 65 at the World Golf Championship event in Sheshan.
Spaniard Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and Welshman Jamie Donaldson are tied for second on five-under, one ahead of a group of four players that includes American prospect Jordan Spieth and Briton Justin Rose.
After cruising along nicely for 16 holes, British Open champion and two-time winner of this event Phil Mickelson looked primed to challenge McIlroy’s lead until he suffered a dramatic late-round meltdown to fall off the pace.
The left-hander dropped four strokes at the par-five eighth, his 17th, where he twice found the pond in front of the green, and also dropped a shot at the ninth after pulling his second into the water for a one-under 71.
McIlroy, on the other hand, had no such misadventures with his only dropped shot coming on the 11th hole, his second of the round. “It’s only one round but it’s definitely the way I wanted and needed to start this week,” said the two-time Major champion, who was ranked number one in the world as recently as March but has yet to record a victory this season.
However, refreshed after a recent four-week break and armed with a new driver and new ball, the world number six looked to have rediscovered the swagger that carried him to order of merit titles on the European and PGA Tours a year ago.
His improvement was not readily apparent in his tie for 27th at last week’s BMW Masters, also played in Shanghai, but when he beat Tiger Woods in an exhibition on Monday, his timing and demeanour around the course looked like the McIlroy of old.
Reading the greens
“Last week I wasn’t reading the greens very well and my pace was off as well and when you have that combination you’re not going to hole any putts,” he said. “I let a couple of putts get away from me today – a couple of the downhill ones – but I was able to hole the ones coming back. And with the irons, I pretty much had the ball under control all day. I shot 64 at Boston (Deutsche Bank Championship) but this is probably better because of a little trickier conditions.”
McIlroy is a surprising 62nd on the European Tour’s Race to Dubai. Only the top 60 qualify for the season-ending event in a fortnight, so he is not quite guaranteed a spot yet, but has made a huge step in the right direction. “I obviously want to play myself into Dubai and pick up my first win of the season,” he said.
Fernandez-Castano, meanwhile, continued the form that carried him to victory at the BMW Masters on Sunday.
“I was feeling a little tired on Tuesday but I guess it’s normal after all the adrenaline rush,” he said. “I was feeling a little tired but I wasn’t in the pro-am yesterday so I took a good rest and I’m feeling 100 per cent.”
Donaldson is also feeling refreshed after suffering from jet-lag last week.
“I didn’t sleep great last week but I’m fully acclimatised now so there are no excuses,” said Donaldson, who eagled the par-four 16th after driving the green.