GolfDifferent Strokes

Pádraig Harrington puts it down to one of those days after ugly 81 in Dubai

Doonbeg will have to LIV without an event - Rory’s reasoning for laying up - Rocco’s return to winner’s enclosure

Pádraig Harrington will be aiming to put his Jekyll and Hyde performance in Dubai – where he followed an 81 with a 65 in missing the cut – when he moves on to this week’s DP World Tour stop, the Ras Al Khaimah championship.

“It was one of those days, you get them hopefully only once a year where you are a bit of a klutz all day,” said the Dubliner of that opening round 81. “I did some good work over the weekend, got a better ball flight going on the driver, so I’m looking forward to Ras Al Khaimah.”

Harrington is one of four Irish players in the field for the third straight week of events in the UAE, with Tom McKibbin, Gary Hurley and John Murphy also in action.

McKibbin missed the cut in Dubai, while Hurley, in his rookie season, is playing for the first time since a top-15 finish in the Mauritius Open in mid-December. Murphy, also in his first season on the main tour, also last played in Mauritius where he missed the cut.


Doonbeg will have to LIV without a stop as schedule announced

So, no Trump Doonbeg after all on the confirmed full schedule of tournaments for the LIV Golf.

In all, LIV’s new itinerary for this year will feature 14 tournaments, starting with the event at Mayakoba in Mexico on February 24th-26th. The seven new venues added are Mayakoba, The Gallery GC in Tucson, Grange GC in Adelaide, Australia, The Serapong at Sentosa in Singapore, Cedar Ridge in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Valderrama in Spain and The Greenbrier in West Virginia.

The Centurion Club, outside London, remains the only tournament venue in Europe.

Graeme McDowell remains the only Irish player to have jumped across to LIV, captaining one of the 12 team franchises competing for $405 million in prize money in the 14 tournament schedule.

“Last year helped lay the foundation for the future of golf at extraordinary courses that have hosted some of the world’s top competitions. LIV Golf’s schedule features fantastic venues and championship sites for our official league launch that will carry the sport into a new era,” said LIV Golf chief executive Greg Norman of the new schedule.

By the numbers: €1,407,598.47

That’s the amount Rory McIlroy won in prize money for lifting the Hero Dubai Desert Classic for a third time in his career. The win also moved McIlroy up to second behind Victor Perez in the updated Race to Dubai order of merit and maintained an impressive streak in his formline dating back to his Tour Championship win on the PGA Tour last August: his results since then are – 1st-4th-1st-4th-4th-2nd-1st.

Word of Mouth

“It was a tale of two lies. Behind the ball it was all sort of downgrain so I could get into the back of the ball okay with like a five or a six iron but there was a big tuft of rough out in front of the ball which was going to kill any speed the ball had coming off the clubface. The only realisation I had was to hit a wedge and try to get it up-and-down to get the win,” – Rory McIlroy on the lie he had after his tee shot to the 18th hole, opting to lay up en route to winning the Dubai Desert Classic.

On this day: January 31st 1999

“How many weird things have gone on?” wondered Rocco Mediate, after a final round 71 for a total of 11-under-par 273 was enough for him to end a six-year drought on tour by winning the Phoenix Open, two strokes clear of Justin Leonard.

Weird is right. This was the final round where Mediate was heckled by a spectator while playing partner Tiger Woods was also heckled by a fan who, it transpired, was carrying a semi-automatic pistol in his backpack.

The information about the spectator with the gun was withheld from Mediate and Woods until after the round was completed. “It might come to the point where it might be like a high school, where you have to have metal detectors in order to get in, especially when you have this many people doing the things they’re doing out there,” remarked Woods with a degree of prophecy.

Mediate, who had undergone disk surgery in 1994, claimed a first win in six years despite heckling from a spectator who persistently yelled at him during the round that he would “fold like a cheap suit” under the pressure from Woods. He didn’t.

Twitter Twaddle

Shane Lowry after a disappointing missed cut in Dubai. He returns to tournament action at next week’s WM Phoenix Open.

Collin Morikawa replying to Max Homa, after Homa’s win in the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines.

Ben An planning some food comfort after a fourth round 83 in the Famers Insurance.

In the Bag: Rory McIlroy – Hero Dubai Desert Classic

Driver: TaylorMade Stealth Plus (9 degrees)

3-wood: TaylorMade Stealth 2 Plus (15 degrees)

5-wood: TaylorMade Stealth Plus (19 degrees)

Irons: TaylorMade Rors Proto (3-PW)

Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM0 (54 and 58 degrees)

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Hydro Blast

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

Know the Rules

Q: In match play, a player, whose ball lies in a bunker, casually leans on her club in the bunker while waiting for her opponent to play. What is the ruling?

A: As per Rule 12.2b(2), there is no penalty for a player casually leaning on her club in a bunker providing it is not for the purpose of testing the condition of the sand, or as otherwise prohibited by Rule 12.2b(1).