After a three-week absence from tour life, dating back to his missed cut at the Masters, Rory McIlroy gets back to tournament duty at a favoured venue for this week’s Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow, another of the PGA Tour’s $20 million designated events.
McIlroy has been in private mode after since quietly slipping away from Augusta National after completing his second round and, subsequently, withdrew from the following week’s RBC Heritage Classic. He didn’t ever have New Orleans or Mexico on his planned itinerary, so his reappearance at Quail Hollow – where he is a three-time winner – offers a first opportunity to offer his own views on his Masters disappointment and also his only outing prior to the US PGA in a fortnight.
Quail Hollow has been a happy hunting ground for McIlroy, with wins in 2010, 2015 and 2021. Shane Lowry and Séamus Power are also back playing for the first time since the Heritage.
Irish well represented at UAE Challenge
Stuart Grehan gets a rare start on the Challenge Tour this week, thanks to an invitation into the UAE Challenge which takes place at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club in Abu Dhabi.
The Tullamore man had a hugely productive season on the developmental EuroPro Tour last year, where he had five top-10s including a victory in the Spey Valley tournament but he has found it hard to earn spots on the Challenge Tour – a pathway to the main DP World Tour – with his last appearance being in the Swiss Challenge back in 2021.
Grehan is one of eight Irish players in the field in Abu Dhabi, where he joins Conor Purcell, Ruaidhri McGee, Niall Kearney, Jonny Caldwell, Paul Dunne, Dermot McElroy and Cormac Sharvin.
Word of Mouth
“I had actually missed the cut last week at Chevron, and my other two wins that I had on (the LPGA) Tour, I missed the weekend the week prior. Not that I want to miss cuts, but it has been some sort of a recipe to a win” – Hannah Green identifying an unlikely secret to her success after winning the LA Open in a playoff over Aditi Ashok and Ruoning Lin.
By the Numbers: $14,462,840
That’s the amount – in US dollars – which Jon Rahm has won so far on the PGA Tour this season, breaking the single-season money record, by the end of April, which was set by Scottie Scheffler last year (when the American won $14,046190, not including the Tour Championship bonus payout). Rahm’s license to print money has come on the back of a run which has seen him win four times already this year, among them the US Masters. He added $839,300 to his season’s earnings with the runner-up finish to Tony Finau in the Mexico Open.
On this day: May 2nd, 1982
Mark James enjoyed something of a love/hate affair with the Italian Open. Four years previously, he’d set the unenviable record of shooting a score of 111 – the highest round ever on the European Tour – when continuing to play on despite injury; but he experienced a far nicer emotion when capturing the title at Is Molas in Sardinia, where a final round 72 for eight-under-par 280 gave a three strokes winning margin over Ian Woosnam and Bobby Clampett.
In winning the fourth of 13th career titles on the European circuit, the Englishman – winning for the first time since his Irish Open success of 1980 – compiled rounds of 70-67-71-72 for an impressive success, with his much-improved putting the key to the win.
James started the final round three shots clear of his Ryder Cup team-mate Woosnam and had moved six shots clear through seven holes but leaked shots, including hitting a one-iron tee shot only 60 yards in his play of the 391 yards Par 4 ninth hole. However, James managed to regain his composure and a birdie on the 17th gave him some breathing space to close the deal.
Shoutout to @aditigolf on some fantastic golf last week and all of 2023. Just keep going, the doors will pen soon. #GoIndia – Anirban Lahiri tipping the cap to his Indian compatriot Aditi Ashok after her runner-up finish to Hannah Green in the LA Open. Ashok lost out in a three-way playoff but her second place is the best every by an Indian player on the LPGA Tour.
Congrats @TalorGooch on the first back-to-back victory in #LIVGolf history and to @RangeGoatsGC on a top finish #GOATS – Greg Norman gets it out there for his start-up/breakaway tour and “history maker” Talor Gooch, who defeated Sergio Garcia in a playoff at the LIV Singapore tournament.
Just missed my 211th cut. Two takeaways: 1 – I might want to hit the ball better than this. 2 – I’m getting really good at dealing with disappointment – Greg Chalmers after missing the cut at the Mexico Open.
Know the Rules
Q: On a Par 3, Player A’s tee shot misses the green and might be lost, so he plays a provisional ball which is holed. Player A does not wish to look for the original ball, but Player B does go to look for it. Before Player A lifts the provisional ball from the hole, Player B finds Player A’s original ball in some thick rough near the green. What is the ruling?
A: Player A must abandon the provisional ball and continue with the original ball. Such a situation is covered under clarification of rule 18.3c(2)/3 which determines the score with a provisional ball that has been holed only becomes the player’s score for the hole when the player lifts the ball from the hole before the original ball has been found in bounds.
In the Bag
Tony Finau, Mexico Open
Driver: Ping G425 LST (9 degrees)
3-wood: Callaway Paradym Triple Diamond T (14 degrees)
Irons: Nike Vapor Fly Pro (3), Ping Blueprint (4-PW)
Wedges: Ping Glide 4.0 (50 and 56 degrees), Titleist Vokey Design SM9 (60 degrees)
Putter: Pi9ing PLD Aanser 2D prototype
Ball: Titleist ProV1