Posts Tagged ‘US Open’

Japanese star Hideki Matsuyama adds Dubai Duty Free Irish Open to schedule

June 11, 2017

JAPANESE superstar Hideki Matsuyama will make his first appearance at a regular European Tour event when the world number four tees it up at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation from July 6-9.
The 25-year-old has become one of the hottest properties in the game following three victories on the US PGA Tour, including the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai.
It’s a big boost to the tournament to have another bright young talent committed to playing at Portstewart alongside two other world top 10 players in Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm.
Matsuyama is considered one of Japan’s best bets to finally make that Major Championship breakthrough.In his last seven appearances in golf’s big four, he has claimed three top tens and two more top 20 finishes, while he also finished in the top ten at both The Open Championship and US Open Championship back in his first year as a professional back in 2013.
His form has tailed off somewhat in recent months and he admitted going into the recent Memorial Tournament – where he finished tied for 45th – that, “my swing isn’t where I’d like it to be and I’m not putting very well” but he will still go into this week’s US Open as one of the favourites.
He said: “I am really looking forward to playing the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open for the first time. I have heard great things about the tournament and about the Northern Irish fans.

“It is important to play some links golf ahead of The Open Championship and I’m sure Portstewart will be the perfect preparation for me.

“I know Rory puts a lot into this tournament and he has done an incredible job raising its profile. I’m really excited and I know it will be a great week.”
Matsuyama’s compatriot Hideto Tanihara has also confirmed his participation at Portstewart, with the World Number 47 making his debut at the event having finished in a share of third at the very first Rolex Series event – the BMW PGA Championship – two weeks ago.

Tickets to see Matsuyama, Tanihara and the numerous other superstars at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation are on sale at, and begin at £20 for Pro-Am Wednesday, with tickets for Thursday and Friday costing £40 and day tickets for the weekend costing £45.
An adult season souvenir ticket, which covers five days of world class golf from Wednesday to Sunday, costs just £100 (a saving of £90 over the course of the five days).
Concessions are available for customers aged over 60 and between 16 and 21, while children under 16 are permitted free entry when accompanied by a
ticket holding adult.
To get a full seated view of all of the drama
at the 18th green, grandstand tickets cost an additional £11.50 for Thursday and Friday, £16.50 for Saturday and £21.50 for Sunday.



Maturing Mehaffey learning the value of rest and recovery

January 8, 2017
Olivia Mehaffey in action with ASU

Olivia Mehaffey in action with ASU

It was supposed to be the off-season but Olivia Mehaffey spent much of her Christmas break on the practice ground at Royal County Down working on her game.
The 18-year-old amateur star from Banbridge, currently ranked number three in the world, has been making some swing changes under the watchful eye of RCD professional, Kevin Whitson.
“I’ve been working on compression, starting the ball out a bit lower with a stronger flight,” said Olivia who was back in Northern Ireland after completing her first semester at Arizona State University.
“I’ve tended to hit it a bit high with too much spin. The college coaches have been very supportive. I am in control of my own game and it was my decision to make this change. It’s more powerful and more efficient. I’m hitting it lovely right now so I’m very happy with how the changes have bedded in.”
The reigning Irish Strokeplay champion, who played a key role in last year’s GB&I Curtis Cup success, is still adapting to life in America but is looking forward to Spring and the main body of the competitive season.
“It was nice to get settled in and everything. I really like it over there but there are a lot of things that are different. So the first semester has all been about getting used to those things,” added Olivia who admitted that juggling college studies and golf has been tricky.

“The practice, that is no problem, I would have been doing that anyway even if I was at home. School has been quite demanding. I didn’t expect that to be so difficult but you have to knuckle down and focus. My days are regularly 6am to 10/11pm. It’s pretty hard work.”

Arizona compete in the Pac-12 conference and will be facing some of the best college golf teams in the US, including the likes of Stanford and UCLA. It’s top class competition but with the season not finishing until late May, it will likely curtail her outings in domestic events.
“It’s impossible to fit everything in. In the past I neglected rest a lot, but I understand now just how important rest is,” added Olivia.
“At the moment I’ve four or five events pencilled in, including the European Individual Championship, the British Amateur and the British Open. I also hope to be selected for the Vagliano Trophy and I’m also going to try and qualify for the US Open.
“I really don’t want to overdo it. If I play the full college season, then come home and play and then turn around and head back to college in September for more golf I’ll not have had any meaningful rest.
“That’s a lot of golf and there’s no real off-season as such so I have to be cautious. One of the reasons I was ill last year [a bout of glandular fever laid her low in February/March/April] was because I did too much. I have learnt a lot about rest and recovery.”

Captain Clarke admits his game isn’t up to tackling US Open challenge at Oakmont

June 10, 2016
Darren's focus has been on retaining the cup, not on his own game

Darren’s focus has been on retaining the cup, not on his own game

European Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke has withdrawn from next week’s US Open at Oakmont.
Clarke’s decision to opt out means that Shane Lowry, Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy are the only home representatives left in the event which gets under way on June 13th.
The Dungannon golfer, who has not recorded a top-10 finish on the European Tour since winning the Open Championship in 2011, said in a statement: “I’m currently dedicating all of my time to our preparations for the Ryder Cup and unfortunately the US Open is not the place to be when your game isn’t 100 per cent.

“I’m very sorry to miss Oakmont but I’m sure it will be a brilliant week. I’ll certainly be watching very closely.”

However poor his form over the last 18 months it must have been a difficult decision for Darren to give up his spot based on the knowledge that his game simply wasn’t up to the task of tackling Oakmont.
Mind you it could well be a case of discretion being the better part of valour considering some of the comments by players this week. Phil Mickelson played a practice round at Oakmont on Monday and Tuesday, describing it as the ‘hardest golf course we’ve ever played.’
Clarke has missed the cut in the US Open for the last three years but the 47-year-old briefly showed some signs of life at the Irish Open where he made the cut, eventually finishing tied for 43rd.
Unfortunately, he then travelled to the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth and carded two rounds of 79/77 to miss the cut by a wide margin.
While it could be argued that Darren’s form has been on the wane for some time and certainly since his dramatic Open success, it’s clear that the European Ryder Cup captaincy and playing competitively do not go hand-in-hand.
When Paul McGinley was in charge he made just three cuts on the European Tour between November 2013 and August 2014. Granted the Dubliner was hampered by injury during that period but it’s worth noting that in his first event back after the Ryder Cup – the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship – he comfortably made the cut and finished tied for 43rd.
Meanwhile, over in the US, Clarke’s rival, Davis Love III, has appeared surprisingly unaffected by captaincy issues. The 52-year-old made a string of cuts during February, March and April including finishing tied for 42nd at The Masters.
At this stage the captaincy affliction appears to be purely a European phenomenon.

Rory committed to European Tour

February 18, 2016

This will have been music to the ears of Keith Pelley, CEO of the European Tour.
Rory McIlroy, who is making his 2016 PGA Tour debut today at the Northern Trust Open, will not be turning his back on Europe.
“I’m a European. The European Tour gave me so many opportunities at the start of my career and I’ll always be indebted to them and I’ll always go back and play, and I never see a time when I won’t be a European Tour Member,” said the world number three and reigning Race to Dubai champion.
Rory’s playing schedule takes him all over the world competing on both the PGA Tour and the European Tour.
It’s a lifestyle that has it’s advantages – offering him the opportunity to play in different environments and experience new cultures but he admits the travelling can be wearing.
“I had not spent a night in my own bed in Florida – I got there on Monday after Dubai. I spent a night there in September, and before that, I stayed there the week before the U.S. Open in June. That was the last time I was in my house in Florida,” said Rory.
“So it’s nice to have a base and that’s why I love this time of the year, because I can go home on a Sunday night even in between tournaments and get a couple of nights in my own bed and fly out again. That’s the nice thing about just playing this tour.”
Rory is embarking on a run of five tournaments in six weeks that will bring him to the opening Major of the year – The Masters.
He added; “I think the Masters at this point of the year is on pretty much everyone’s mind. You’re building up to it. You’ve got some great events in between now and then, but obviously I’d love my game to be in peak shape for Augusta in April.”


McDowell’s pride at Open Championship return to Royal Portrush

June 12, 2014

World Cup Of Golf: Day 3
Ignore the transatlantic twang – Graeme McDowell is proud to be a Portrush boy and he is taking obvious delight in news that the famous old links will return to the Open rota.
A formal announcement is expected on Monday with a date of 2019 pencilled in for The Open Championship to make an overdue return to Royal Portrush.
“That’s extremely exciting. I’ve been kind of hesitant to comment because I really didn’t want to take anything away from the official announcement,” said McDowell who began his US Open campaign at Pinehurst with a two under par 68.
“I’m very proud of where I grew up. I’m very proud of the tradition and history there, and to bring an Open Championship back to Northern Ireland is very special. It speaks volumes about how far the country has come.

“It’s going to be a very special thing for Northern Ireland and Ireland in general. I just hope I’m exempt and playing well. I guess it’s been a dream of mine as a kid. I’ve been out there, spent many an hour out there as a kid, dreaming of playing major championships and to have a Major Championship come to Portrush, the Open Championship is special stuff.

“It’s a result in a lot of gentle ribbing in the direction of Mr. Dawson the last four or five years from myself and McIlroy and Clarke. Nice to see the fruits of our labour, I suppose.”

GMAC resurgance no surprise to Morris

June 10, 2013
Fergus Wallace (left) and Karl Morris

Fergus Wallace (left) and Karl Morris

Graeme McDowell’s surge back into the world’s top 10 last month caught many people off guard.
The Ryder Cup hero, winner of the US Open in 2010, was playing second fiddle to Rory McIlroy before his recent victories at the RBC Heritage and the World Match-play.
Now, however, the tables have turned and it’s McDowell, not Rory who is expected to contend at the US Open. That may come as a shock to the casual observer but for those close to the golfer, like performance coach Karl Morris, McDowell’s resurgence is no surprise.
“We got together just before the US PGA last year. By his own admission, Graeme had lost some clarity on what his goals were because one of his goals had been to win a major and he was left wondering what to do next,” said Morris (, who has been working with GMAC for 10 years.
“So one of the things we looked at was the world rankings. At that time, he was 20th something like that. So we set a goal in August to try and get into the top five in the world. The stats people at Horizon thought it might take about two years. At the moment he’s heading in the right direction – inside 12 months.”
Morris is considered one of Europe’s leading performance coaches and has worked with a host of star names, including Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood. The Englishman is a regular visitor to Ireland spending time with GUI elite squads over the last eight years.
He is not a sports psychologist in the mould of Bob Rotella, who has worked with Padraig Harrington for many years. Morris’ skill is in helping golfers – of all abilities – understand the areas that need to be worked on and then creating the right structure and programme so the golfers can improve.
“Good players, like everybody, forget the things that made them good players,” added Morris who was giving a seminar in Antrim last week as a guest of Fergus Wallace of GRIP (

“We find things that work and then we stop doing them. When it comes to working with Graeme, I will go to Florida, maybe four or five times a year and spend a couple of days with him. During that time, most of our discussions are simply reinforcing things that we have talked about over and over again.

“Things like, for example, better practice. By his own admission, last year Graeme got good at walking out of the house and hitting balls for two hours with no real purpose or structure. Even good players can do that.”
Morris is convinced that practicing better is a skill that all golfers can learn, one that will make a huge difference whether they are in that elite bracket or weekend players.
He advocates employing drills and games that create pressure whilst providing some statistical feedback and supports the products developed by the team at GRIP.
“The thing is with golf. Everyone keeps statistics of what happens on the golf course. The numbers of the card tell you what you’ve done. The GRIP stuff tells you what you are capable of doing,” he added.

Rory ready to ‘knuckle down’ in Open hunt

July 18, 2012

WILL A more considered approach pay off for Rory McIlroy at Royal Lytham this week?
A month ago, McIlroy went into his US Open defence at Olympic Club vowing to stay aggressive off the tee and promptly missed the cut. This time around the 23-year-old insists that playing ‘smart’ will be the key to success.
“You have to plot your way around. Navigate your way around the fairway bunkers,” said Rory who will start his campaign tomorrow in the company of Louis Oosthuizen and Keegan Bradley.
“There are areas to hit it into on this golf course and that is what you have to focus on. I hit driver on 10 and 16 this week just to see what happens and its not worth it unless you really have to.
“If you can keep your ball on the fairway then there are chances to be aggressive going into some of the greens.”
Rory’s last competitive outing was two weeks ago at the Irish Open in Royal Portrush and a 10th place finish hinted that he was returning to something like his best form.
It also proved that contrary to comments he made last year at Royal St Georges, he is able to play in difficult weather conditions.
“Blaming the weather, blaming the draw, blaming my luck – that was just frustration. Looking back I just didn’t handle the conditions as best I could have,” added Rory.
“That’s something that I’m trying to do more of and to some degree at Portrush. I felt like I played well in the bad conditions.
“If it’s like that again this week you’re just going to have to knuckle down and focus and keep fighting. I’m looking forward to it. I feel like I’m hitting the ball great. I think it’s the best I have swung the club all year. I have done a lot of work on it.”

Rory vows to stay ‘aggressive’

June 12, 2012

RORY McIlroy has vowed to stay aggressive in the defence of his US Open crown this week at the Olympic Club.
Tiger Woods’ former coach, Butch Harmon, has branded the set-up as ‘ridiculously tough’ but Rory insists that he is still going to ‘attack the golf course’.
“I reckon I’m going to use my driver eight or nine times on this course. I’m still going to hit driver, coming in with the mindset that I’m going to play aggressively when I can,” said the defending champion, who won by a record margin last year at Congressional.

“Obviously you have to be smart, but you’ve got to take your chances around here. And this golf course gives you a few opportunities where you can make birdies.

“There are a few holes where you just have to settle for a par and be very happy with that. The rough is not as bad as maybe in previous years where you can get away with some tee shots.
“If you look at some of the holes, for example, like 18, you can’t go into the rough on the left of that fairway, it’s brutal, but if you miss it on other parts of the course you can actually get a decent lie and you can get a fairly simple shot to the green. So really you just need to know your way around the golf course and know where you can miss it.”
After three missed cuts in a row, Rory played in the St Jude Classic last week, a move that almost resulted in a win. The 23-year-old found water on the 18th while in the lead and although disappointed he feels the benefits far outweigh the negatives.
“It was a disappointing last few holes for me but leading up to that point I felt like I played some really good golf. And it was great to see. I hadn’t played that sort of golf for a few weeks. So it was nice to see that, especially coming into this week,” he added.

Rory still searching for the right balance

May 30, 2012

ALMOST 12 months on from winning the US Open in record fashion, Rory McIlroy claims that he’s still adjusting to life in the spotlight.
“Last week [PGA Championship at Wentworth] I threw my six-iron on the 12th hole, and I didn’t think it was that big a deal,” said Rory ahead of today’s opening round of the Memorial Tournament in America.
“I didn’t think it was that big a deal, and then I wake up the next morning and it’s all over the papers in the UK, and I’m just like, ‘Oh, my God’.  It’s just one of those things, and it’s something I’m going to have to deal with and learn how to do.”
Stung by the embarrassment of missing two cuts in a row, at Sawgrass and then at Wentworth, Rory has altered his schedule to take in an extra tournament, the St Jude’s Classic as part of his preparations for his US Open defence at The Olympic Club in San Francisco, June 11-17.
“It’s not nice missing cuts, and it’s something that I’ve not really been used to over the past couple of years,” he said.
“I want to get my game in good shape going into Olympic. I’d love to be able to get it in good shape after this week and come out of this week after working hard and say, you know what, I’ve really made progress this week, let’s try and make a little bit more next week in Memphis and feel really good and ready for the U.S. Open.”
It’s a break from his favoured approach of avoiding competitive golf in the week before a major and he admits that he’s taking something of a gamble.
“I just feel like I need some rounds.  These two-day weeks aren’t really that good for me so I just want to get some competitive rounds in.  I’m working on a few things, and I feel trying to put them into competition will be the best way for me to prepare going into the U.S. Open,” added Rory who has been working hard on his game with coach Michael Bannon since the missed cut at Wentworth.
“Sometimes you get on a run, and you just play week in, week out, and you just keep grinding out really good results, and you might throw in a win here or there. I feel like I played really good golf in that period, Match Play, Honda, Doral. I took a week off and finished second at Match Play, first at Honda and third at Doral.
“For me, I feel like the first week I come back out I’m fresh and I’m ready to go.  I feel like second week back out is good for me.  Third week, sometimes I’ve felt like I’ve got a bit stale.

“I said to myself I wasn’t going to play more than three in a row this year, but that suddenly changed after the last couple of weeks. But as I said, it’s just a learning process.”

From the outside, Rory’s change of tactic has the faint smell of panic about it but he maintains that he is still trying to find the right balance between work and play.
“This year has been a big learning curve for me because I’m still trying to find a balance between being a top class golfer and handling media commitments, sponsors’ commitments, trying to have a life outside of all that and just trying to balance everything,” he said.
“It’s hard to do all of them all at the same time and it’s something that I’m still figuring out how to do.  But I’ve got a good team around me, and we’re trying to figure that out at the minute.”


Will the new World Number 1 embrace new status?

March 5, 2012

THE problem with being a superstar sportsman is that somehow your every utterance is taken to have great meaning regardless of how little you may actually know about a subject.
In his short professional career, Rory McIlroy has had to field questions on everything from his bad back, love life, Ulster rugby, Olympic eligibility and Northern Ireland’s political situation.
On occasions, he has misjudged the mood of his audience but given that he’s still only 22, the US Open champion has done reasonably well not to put his foot in it more often.
Early this year Rory admitted that he was becoming more aware of his position as a role-model for children. Over the last six months there has been a perceptible change in his public profile.
For example, since leaving management company ISM for Dublin-based Horizon, Rory has spent much less time interacting on Twitter.
As he ascends to the top of the rankings, Rory will have an increasing influence on his sport.
If he dominates, as Tiger Woods did for a decade, he could become a significant force for change.
One of the charges levelled at Woods was that he failed to use his star power to address big issues.
Woods failed to address the race issue. In fact, he never confronted anything that could possibly detract from his earning power.
Will Rory follow the same path? As a case in point, here is how he dealt with a question about ‘slow-play’ this week before the start of The Honda Classic.
“I think there’s definitely concern but more for the TV audience and the spectators, people don’t want to turn on golf and see guys taking two minutes over a shot. It’s just not enjoyable to watch,” said Rory.
“I don’t think it’s time to introduce a shot clock to golf, but you sort of know when it’s your turn to hit, you’ve got to be ready.
“If you need to go through your routine, then that’s fair enough. But if your routine takes longer than it really should, then you know, you need to work on that.
“I don’t think a three ball should take anymore than five. Five hours is still pretty slow, but you find sometimes on Thursdays and Fridays, it can go a lot longer than that.
“I don’t mind playing with someone that’s slow. You need to give them their time before they are ready to hit the shot. I completely understand that.
“It’s more for trying to grow the game of golf.
“We are trying to portray this great image of the game, and if you turn on the TV and see guys taking so long, then people are not going to want to watch it. I think that’s the real concern.”
It’s by no means a radical manifesto for change but at least Rory is aware of slow-play and the wider problems it poses.
Maybe it’s asking too much of him at this stage to rock the boat and speak his mind but that’s not always going to be the case – there’s more awkward questions to come in the future.