Different Strokes: Rory McIlroy’s issues plane to see as he looks to sharpen game

Amateurs get boot at Pebble; Twitter Twaddle; On this Day; In the Bag; Know the Rules

Rory McIlroy watches his approach shot on the 14th hole during the final round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale in Arizona. Photograph: Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Rory McIlroy aims to spend quite a bit of time with his swing plane perfector over the next week as he prepares for a hectic upcoming schedule.

“I’m going to get the plane perfector out, that little machine I have, and work on that. I’m getting too steep in the downswing and hitting a lot of pulls and a lot of weak cuts, so I’ll work on that, try to get the club more out in front of me on the way back and try to shallow it a little bit on the way down,” said McIlroy of the to-do items on his week away from competition.

McIroy backed into a top-15 finish with a closing 64 in the Phoenix Open – to go with his third-place finish in Abu Dhabi and 16th in the Farmers Insurance – as he sticks to a strategy of playing his way into form.

The Northern Irishman's upcoming schedule will see him resume tournament play at next week's Genesis Invitational at Riviera, the first of a four-week stretch that will then take in the WGC at The Concession in Florida, the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill and the Players at Sawgrass.


McIlroy reverted to his use of a line on the golf ball during the final round in Phoenix. “It’s something I’ve sort of went back and forth with over the years. Sometimes I feel comfortable with it, sometimes not. I always seem to go back to it when I’m struggling to start it on my line or trust it.”

Pádraig Harrington will be in action again this week at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Photograph: Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Ams get shown the door at Pebble Beach

Normally you'd expect to see the likes of singer Justin Timberlake, actor Clint Eastwood and financier JP McManus among the amateur participants at the AT&T Pebble Beach pro-am tournament but that won't be the case this time around, with only the professional part of the event going ahead.

With the field reduced to 156 pros, only two – rather than three – courses will be used, with Pebble Beach and Spyglass playing host and Monterey Peninsula left unused this year after the decision was made to cancel the 'am' part of the event.

Pádraig Harrington is one of two Irish players in the field, along with Séamus Power. Harrington’s missed cut at the Phoenix Open was his first since failing to make the weekend at the DDF Irish Open last September and attributed losing a ball in bunker on his final hole of his first round for his “grump attitude” in his second round.

“Hopefully I will be better mentally with a better attitude [at Pebble Beach]. Even at my age, I still have to work at that,” said the 49-year-old Dubliner, who is on a three-week tournament stint Stateside that also takes in next week’s Genesis Invitational.

Word of Mouth

"If I'm at Augusta and I'm playing well and she starts [going into labour], I'm flying back. I would never miss the birth of my first born in a million years, or any born for that matter" – Jon Rahm revealing his wife Kelley is expecting the first child around the time of the Masters at the start of April.

By the Numbers: 49

The skyrocketing of Will Zalatoris up the world rankings is set to pay rich dividends, with exemptions into the Masters and the upcoming World Golf Championships among the rewards due his way. This time last year, Zalatoris was ranked 541st in the world.

Twitter Twaddle

I like the trend line. 3 weeks of wind, challenging greens and good competition has helped sharpen the game – Justin Rose, after a run of run of 57th-35th-2nd on his Middle East swing on the European Tour. Rose, who has moved up to 33rd in the latest world rankings, has returned to his home in the Bahamas before starting his PGA Tour later this month.

How much do you think the likes of DJ, Bryson are getting paid to play in Saudi? Is it growing the game there by them appearing? – question from Gary Flynn, from Wicklow, to Aussie tour player Scott Hend during a Twitter Q&A session.

Well let’s say they backed the truck up to collect the appearance fees – Hend’s reply.

Davis Love III hits off the 18th tee during the final round of the 2003 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Photograph: Jeff Gross/Getty Images

On this day: February 9th, 2003

Davis Love III's win at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am came with a lucky break. Although he finished in style with a birdie on the par-5 18th – shooting a final round 68 for a 14-under-par 274, one stroke clear of runner-up Tom Lehman – Love had cause to reflect on his good fortune on the 12th hole earlier in the round, where his tee-shot was destined for trouble beyond the green only to hit a photographer on the foot and the ball ricocheted back onto the green and he rolled in a four-footer for birdie.

Winning for the first time in two years, since his 2001 win in the same tournament, Love commented: “It was a nerve-racking day for me, probably as nervous as I have ever been playing a round of golf.”

Of his good fortune on the 12th, Love – who gave the ball to the photographer as a keepsake – said: “If we hit somebody in the head, we give them the ball. I felt like if you hit a guy in the foot and you make birdie, he deserves at least the ball, maybe more.”

In the Bag: Dustin Johnson (Saudi International)

Driver: TaylorMade SIM (10.5 degrees)
3-wood: TaylorMade SIM2 Max (15 degrees)
7-wood: TaylorMade SIM Max (21 degrees)
Irons: TaylorMade P730 DJ Proto (3-PW)
Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (56 and 60 degrees)
Putter: TaylorMade Spider Limited Itsy Bitsy
Ball: TaylorMade TP5x (2019)

Know the Rules

On arriving to his tee shot in the rough, Player A finds that part of a fence that is situated out of bounds leans onto the course and interferes with him playing the shot; in such a situation, can he push the fence back into an upright position?

No, as Rule 8.1a prohibits a player from improving conditions affecting the stroke by moving immovable obstructions. However, although Rule 8.1a prohibits moving, bending or breaking the immovable obstruction the player has the option to take free relief from interference by the immovable obstruction that is leaning onto the course under Rule 16.1b (relief from abnormal course conditions).