GolfDifferent Strokes

Confident McIlroy fully focused on Masters challenge

Irishman up to second place in the updated world rankings after his third-place finish in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play

“A ton of positives,” is how Rory McIlroy described his so-close yet so-far challenge in the WGC-Dell Techologies where he at least got the bragging rights over world number one Scottie Scheffler in their third-fourth place playoff.

But the tournament is already confined to the rear-view mirror as he now sets his sights on next week’s Masters.

McIlroy – up to second in the updated world rankings and to sixth in the FedEx Cup standings – intends on paying another reconnaissance visit to Augusta National some day this week ahead of the season’s first Major where he will again go in search of the elusive missing piece in the jigsaw in completing the career Grand Slam.

“I don’t think there’s any harm in going up again,” said McIlroy of his intention to get more play time at Augusta without the roars of the crowds and in his own time.


McIlroy took a day off Monday – indulging in the 3Rs, to “rest, recover, refuel” – but heads onwards to Augusta in good spirits.

“I feel a lot better about things now compared to this time a couple of weeks ago after The Players. I’ll try to rest and recover a little bit and all eyes [are] on Augusta and just making sure the game is ready.

“Everything feels in really good order, just work on some things that I know that I’ll need for that week and just make sure I’m ready and rested.

“The driver’s definitely better. I thought the putter looked pretty good for the most part, felt I progressed with the putter as the week went on. The short game was sharp. All in all, I thought most aspects of the game were in good shape . . . . I look at the stats after every week and I’ll analyse where my game’s good, where it maybe needs improvement and then I’ll sort of marry that to the statistical profile of Augusta National and what I need to do well there.”

Long embracing his new role at Golf Ireland

“It’s a daunting task, it looks as if the commitment will be huge but I am looking forward to it . . . . it will be busy, but I am looking forward to getting stuck in.”

That’s how John Long, the incoming President of Golf Ireland, described the challenge of the year ahead after assuming the presidency at GI’s annual general meeting in Mullingar at the weekend.

Long, a member of Monkstown and Dooks, succeeded Kay O’Loughlin, who was the first female president of the national governing body.

Long becomes the third president of Golf Ireland following the merger of the Golfing Union of Ireland the Irish Ladies Golf Union three years ago.

Word of Mouth

“It feels like I’ve been out here for years. I’m getting grey hairs with all the stress I put myself under” – Matt Wallace after securing his breakthrough win on the PGA Tour with his win in the Corales Puntacana championship in the Dominican Republic. However, the Englishman didn’t earn an invite to the Masters for his win and would need to go back-to-back and win this week’s Valero Texas Open to earn that exemption.

By the Numbers: 2

Leona Maguire and Stephanie Meadow are both playing in this week’s LA Open at Palos Verdes on the LPGA Tour.

The two Irishwomen finished tied-23rd in the Drive On Championship in Arizona which improved their Race to CME Globe rankings in this early part of the season. Maguire moved to 13th on the updated standings while Meadow, in her first tournament of the year, moved to 68th.

On this day: March 28th, 1965

Dick Hart’s only career win on the PGA Tour came the hard way, but it was worth the wait.

Hart had made a late decision to enter the Azalea Open and, legend has it, only got his entry submitted two minutes before the deadline.

It proved to be a wise decision. Hart – with rounds of 70-65-72-69 for a total of 12-under-par 276 at Cape Fear Country Club in North Carolina which drew him level with Phil Rodgers – had produced a remarkable homeward run in his final round which included holing out a 40-yard wedge shot for eagle on the 15th hole and also rolling in a 12-footer for birdie on the final hole.

The play-off was one that went on and on . . . on. Eventually, on the eighth hole of sudden death, Hart managed to salvage a winning par after missing the green with his approach shot.

Twitter Twaddle

Finished tied 5th. 10 under, 6 behind. Hit my putts well this week but just didn’t hit it close enough to count. Well done @davidtoms – Pádraig Harrington, after the Galleri Classic on the Champions Tour. The Dubliner switches back to the PGA Tour for this week’s Valero Texas Open, where he is the only Irishman in the field.

3rd place finish in last weeks @asiantourgolf event was enough to qualify me for this years @TheOpen! Bring it on! Comon @TigerWoods please play – Travis Smyth, who earned his ticket to Hoylake for finishing third in the World City Championship in Hong Kong.

I’m officially the #1 Greg. Massive day – Greg Chalmers on moving to 1,076th in the world rankings. The next best Greg? That’d be Greg McKay, ranked 1,105th. Small victories matter.

In the Bag

Celine Boutier – LPGA Drive On Championship

Driver – PXG 0311 Gen5 (9 degrees)

Hybrids – PXG 0311 Gen5 (19 and 25 degrees), PXG 0317X (22 degrees)

Irons – PXG 0311 P Gen4 (5-PW)

Wedges – PXG 0311 Milled Sugar Daddy II (50, 54 and 58 degrees)

Putter – Odyssey Works Bit T V-Line

Ball – Titleist Pro V1x

Know the Rules

Q In a singles match, Player A concedes Player B’s short putt for a four (and a halved hole). Player B then attempts to hole out and misses the putt. Player A then claims the hole. What is the ruling?

A The concession stands and Player B has completed the hole in four strokes. Such a situation is covered by Rules 6.5 and 3.2b. A player has completed the hole in match play when their next stroke is conceded.