- Jay Busbee at From The Marbles22 hrs ago
Whatever Tony Stewart's made of, it's way different from you and me.
Almost a year to the day after a sprint car wreck crunched his right leg like a stomped pencil, Stewart climbed back into one of those open-wheeled crashes-waiting-to-happen and raced.
Naturally, he won. And the legend of Tony Stewart grows ever larger.
The wreck last year, which ended Stewart's season and hopes for a fourth NASCAR championship, was a defining moment in Stewart's career. On one hand, you had the sensible you're-a-businessman-and-this-is-a-business-man types lecturing Stewart on the fact that he now had responsibilities to others beyond himself: sponsors, investors, employees, etc. On the other, you had the hell-yeah-git-em-Smoke crew, backing any and every ridiculous chance Smoke took, and to hell with the pencilneck geeks who doubted him. You can guess where Stewart himself fell.
Rory McIlroy is now one of golf's giants. We can't believe it either, but here we are. This 25-year-old kid, who arrived in this world right about the same time as the third Indiana Jones movie, is officially, certifiably, indisputably a legend.
McIlroy won the Open Championship on Sunday with only the briefest of hiccups. He was paired with Rickie Fowler, playing one pairing behind Sergio Garcia, and both of them veered within two strokes of McIlroy at two points in the afternoon. But McIlroy responded to the challenge with smooth drives straight enough to fire through a keyhole.
When he's playing well, as he did on Saturday afternoon, McIlroy struts. It's more king-of-the-playground than king-of-the-world, really, because of everything that Rory can do on a golf course, scaring you isn't one of them. He's not a Tiger Woods circa 2000, chasing you down, running you over, and then reversing gears a couple times to make sure those tire tracks are embedded. No, McIlroy's game has only two settings: inconsistency and perfection.
You'd be hard-pressed to find a guy who's had more of a good news-bad news career in the last quarter-century than Sergio Garcia. Still without a major win, he's been the "Best Never To Win A Major" for so long nobody really feels all that bad for him any more.
Garcia always plays well at the Open Championship, but this year might just be the best, and thus the cruelest, of all. He's got the bad fortune to be playing some of his best golf of his life on a weekend where Rory McIlroy is otherworldly.
Still, the golf gods gave Garcia a gift ... maybe only to torture him more, but still. He flew his approach shot at 12 into the grandstand, where it rebounded with an audible bang and ended up right on the fringe of the green. Garcia would go on to par the hole and remain, at that point, just two strokes behind McIlroy.
It wouldn't last. On 15, Garcia found himself in a greenside bunker. Not a terrible problem, but he had no margin for error. Certainly, no margin to do this:
Garcia would go on to bogey the hole and drop three behind McIlroy. So, so close.
It's a major Sunday and Tiger Woods is wearing red and black, and if you squint a bit — and don't look at the clock or the scoreboard — you could almost think it's 2000 or 2002 or 2006 again.
But, no, it's 2014, and here's Woods, spending more time looking for balls in the gorse than driving them onto the fairway. He staggered home on Sunday at the Open Championship with a get-me-the-hell-out-of-here 75 to conclude a six-over tournament.
Yes, he finished five strokes behind 64-year-old Tom Watson; yes, he concluded his round almost two hours before the leaders even teed off. Yes, at the moment his comeback from back surgery is looking as misguided as a new Van Halen album, good memories obscuring the painful reality of today. But you know what? Let's not pile on any more. Let's see if we can take some actual positives from Woods' week. Really, it won't be hard.
Stagger to a sofa. Let the kids make their own breakfast. Sneak a cell phone into church. Whatever you're doing Sunday morning, make sure you watch the Open Championship. You're about to see sports history.
Rory McIlroy is just 25 years old, but he's about to carve his name alongside golf's immortals. For a sport as history-obsessed and backwards-facing as golf, this is no small thing. McIlroy holds a six-shot lead at the Open Championship, and he's playing with the kind of assurance that's already earned him a U.S. Open and a PGA Championship. If he's able to win on Sunday, he'll join two familiar names, Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus, as the only golfers since 1934 with three major wins by the age of 25.
McIlroy is 16-under for the Open Championship, six strokes ahead of his nearest competition. He's at a total of 200 strokes, which sets a record for the Royal Liverpool club. And he's within range of a 20-under for a major, which has never been done in golf history, anywhere .
Here's what stands between McIlroy and that third major: 18 holes. A cast of characters already pretty far back in the rear-view mirror. And McIlroy himself.
A decade ago, Rory McIlroy was a 15-year-old kid with some skill at golf and a dad who believed in him wholeheartedly. So much so, in fact, that Gerry McIlroy and three friends put together £ 400, just less than $700 in today's dollars, on an audacious bet: young Rory would win the Open Championship before he turned 26. The odds? 500-1.
McIlroy is now 25. And he stands six shots ahead of the field with 18 holes to play. That crazy little bet doesn't seem so crazy now, does it? The bet would pay £ 200,000, or more than $340,000, if McIlroy is able to win. Assuming each of the four partners threw in equally, that's $85,000 apiece. (You know there were a few guys who thought it was a throwing-money-away bet.) Not a bad return on investment, yes?
Here's the BBC's Andrew Cotter confirming the bet:
So just to confirm - 10 yrs ago Gerry McIlroy & three friends put £400 at 500-1 on 15 year-old Rory to win The Open before he turned 26.
And in case you're still not convinced:
Ok - apparently I have to say it again - the bet still stands for this year. Checked with the man leading the Open.
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The Open Championship is underway! Here's your complete roundup of the third day.
When Rory McIlroy is on, there's nobody who can touch him. Not Tiger Woods, not Phil Mickelson, nobody. When he's dialed in, and granted, it's not often, McIlroy is as good as anyone in golf, ever .
Overstatement? Perhaps. But perhaps not. Consider that after his exceptional 4-under 68 on Saturday, which put him at 12-under for the Open Championship and six strokes ahead of the field, McIlroy is in position to shoot 20-under for a major championship. That's never been done by anyone in history. (And remember, this is the same player who won his two majors by eight strokes each.)
For the first 12 or so holes on Saturday, a day hastened by the threat of rain, McIlroy looked anything but immortal. And a host of challengers, most notably Rickie Fowler, were trimming into his pre-round four-stroke lead fast. Very, very fast. It looked, for a time, like McIlroy would surrender, or at least fight for, the lead he'd built over two days.
Consider the following scorecards. Here's Fowler:
And here's McIlroy:
Because many people want to know how Tiger Woods is playing – and many others want to rant about how much coverage the world's most famous golfer gets – this is for you.
Freed of the weight of expectations, 14 strokes behind leader Rory McIlroy going into Day 3 of the British Open, Woods turned in a round that started very well but sputtered into ugliness. Woods ended the day at 3-over after a 1-over round that included five birdies against a bogey, a double and a triple.
Woods began the day on the 10th tee, and that seemed to cure his first-hole ills, at least initially: freed from having to start on Nos. 1 and 2, where he'd totaled a 5-over score over just two days, Woods birdied the first two holes and appeared on the way to validation, if not redemption. He even managed to birdie No. 1. But a double-bogey on the evil No. 2 pushed Woods back up above par for the tournament. Then came a lost ball on the seventh, and from there it was a limp back to the clubhouse.
On Saturday morning at the Open Championship, players took to the course at Royal Liverpool wearing black ribbons on their hats. The ribbons honor longtime Scottish golf instructor Bob Torrance, who died on Friday at age 82 after a long battle with cancer. Torrance was the father of Sam Torrance, a former European Ryder Cup captain.
Torrance taught a wide range of European players, including three-time major winner Padraig Harrington and current European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley. He also apparently once watched Rory McIlroy and declared that he could do nothing for McIlroy, and refused to teach him.
“Bob is the best swing coach in the world,” Harringtonsaid after winning his second Open Championship. “You can see his genius in the way he can analyse any swing. He’s spent his whole life examining the golf swing and his knowledge of cause and effect is just incredible.”
"Very sad news about Bob Torrance," 2011 Open champion Darren Clarke wrote on Twitter. "I would not be where I am today without Bob."
- Jay Busbee at Devil Ball Golf3 days ago
We weren't supposed to get too excited over Tiger Woods' strong performance on Thursday at the Open Championship, so we won't get too pessimistic about his godawful one on Friday, but still ... oooof.
Everything that went so well on Thursday for Woods went sideways on Friday. He followed his first-day 69 with a miserable 77, and needed a desperation eight-foot birdie to assure himself of a spot in the weekend. That's the cliff over which he plunged: He needed a last-second heave to keep from falling from the top 10 to missing the cut.
That birdie on 18 was Woods' only one of the day, a day that began in the ugliest way possible: double bogey-bogey. Woods thus went +5 over the first two holes for the tournament's first days. From there on, it got no prettier. He missed fairway after fairway, continuing to go to the driver even after it was clear he'd have been more accurate just throwing the ball down the course.
If Thursday's 69 was a signal that he was approaching top form in his return from back surgery four months ago, Friday's 77 was a reality check.