McIlroy and Woods take early leave
Between one thing and another, you can bet that whoever signed the appearance fee cheques here this week will feel like they’d have been better off snapping their pen in two.
Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods were on every poster, looked down from every billboard and smiled from every ticket in Abu Dhabi, yet both of them will have to find other business to attend to while the HSBC Golf Championship potters along without them.
They each came across kooky and interesting ways to miss the cut here, splashing a little intrigue onto the face of a tournament that was heading for the weekend with not a whole lot to say for itself.
To McIlroy first and the ongoing travails of his Fresh Equipment Hell. He overshot the cut with plenty of room to spare, his second successive 75 snipping his week’s work off on a Friday night for the first time since last year’s US Open.
It was his first missed cut in a regular tour event since the Dunhill Championship in South Africa way back in December 2008, as well as the only time in their careers to date that he and Woods have missed the cut at the same tournament. Yet nobody was particularly interested in these little factoids afterwards. All anyone wanted to talk about was his putter.
A week that had begun with him doing his best to avoid a question about whether he had the option of using his old Scotty Cameron putter if he so wished ended with him answering it without answering it out loud. After an opening round on Thursday where he had consistently left his putts short, he decided overnight to revert to the one with which he had such a stellar year in 2012. The problem as he saw it was one of weight – the slower greens here than the ones he’d been used to practising on with his new Nike Method putter apparently requiring a heavier blade. So just like that, the swoosh stayed in the locker.
Little bit heavier
“I just wanted to try it because I felt like I didn’t get anything to the hole yesterday. I just felt like it was a little quick for these greens. The greens aren’t particularly quick here so I just felt like the one I put in today was a little bit heavier and I felt like I could get the ball to the hole. I wouldn’t look too much into it – it’s the first week out. If anything, it’s more the Indian than the arrow at this point.”
His manager Conor Ridge wasn’t overly perturbed either. Certainly, if there’d been any less-than-thrilled communiqués from his new Nike overlords at the abandoning of their marque putter after just one round, it wasn’t outwardly weighing on either of them. “Rory even said himself at the start of the week that it was going to be an unknown,” said Ridge.
“Going into tournament play versus what he was doing on the range. To be honest, he said himself – he didn’t play well yesterday. And he hasn’t played well today. I think if he had 14 Titleist clubs in his bags yesterday and today, it would have been exactly the same.”