Golf notebook: McIlroy-Horschel feud fades

Tom LaMarre, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

--When it came to feuds, Sergio Garcia and Tiger Woods made all the headlines last week at the U.S. Open, with the Spaniard apologizing for his "fried chicken" remark made a few weeks earlier at a dinner before the BMW PGA Championship on the European Tour at Wentworth.
Rory McIlory and Billy Horschel, few even knew there was anything between then.
Their bad blood came about in the 2007 Walker Cup at Royal County Down Golf Club in Newcastle, Northern Ireland, where Great Britain and Ireland scored a 12 1/2-11 1/2 victory over the Americans.
Horschel, who played college golf at Florida, was matched against McIlroy three times, scoring a 1 up singles win over the Irishman on the first day and teaming with Rickie Fowler to beat McIlroy and Rhys Davis of Wales, 2 and 1, in foursomes on the morning of the second day.
However, McIlroy scored a critical 4-and-2 singles victory over Horschel on the afternoon of the final day and admitted afterward that more than a little personal satisfaction went along with it.
"It was great to win, especially against him," McIlroy said. "I don't really have much time for him, to be honest."
McIlroy apparently was not pleased with Horschel's animated behavior during the matches, a bit like the Americans' disdain for some of Garcia's antics in the Ryder Cup.
Horschel, who captured the Zurich Classic of New Orleans earlier this year for his first PGA Tour victory, said it's all in the past.
"He didn't think the way I conducted myself on the golf course was right, but we were young," the 26-year-old Horschel said. "We were immature.
"I consider him a buddy. There's no spat at all, no hard feelings at all. We were young guys and we're going to make mistakes when we're still maturing as individuals. It was water under the bridge a long time ago."
Horschel even played a practice round with McIlroy and Tiger Woods the day before the tournament started last week at Merion.
--Miller Barber, one of the colorful characters on the PGA Tour during the 1960s and '70s, died at the age of 82 at his home in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Barber, who was known as "Mr. X," won 11 times on the PGA Tour before really turning it on when he moved to what is now the Champions Tour, winning 24 times during the early years of the senior circuit with his distinctive, looping swing.
"We are saddened by the passing of Miller Barber," commissioner Tim Finchem said in a statement. "He was a wonderful player who made his mark on the PGA Tour with 11 victories and then really excelled on the Champions Tour, becoming one of its best players in the tour's formative years.
"Miller and the Champions Tour's other early stars helped establish the tour and make it the tremendous success it has become."
Despite his unorthodox swing and pudgy frame, Barber played in a record 1,297 tournaments in his career on the PGA Tour and Champions Tour and earned more than $5.6 million.
Barber's right elbow flew out on his backswing as he raised the club to the outside, bringing it high over his head, the shaft almost perpendicular to the ground.
From there, he looped the clubhead inside and produced an orthodox downswing.
"He has a great release through the ball, and that's one of the most important things," Arnold Palmer told Newsday in 1989. "And don't let that muscle tone fool you. He is strong."
Barber never captured a major title, with his best chance coming when he took a three-shot lead into the final round of the 1969 U.S. Open at the Champions Golf Club in Houston.
However, he closed with a 78 and wound up in a tie for sixth as Orville Moody took home the title. Barber finished in the top 10 of all four majors that season and played on the United States Ryder Cup team.
Of his nickname, Barber said: "Jim Ferree gave me the nickname because I never told anyone where I was going at night. I was a bachelor and a mystery man with many girlfriends in many cities. I didn't marry Karen until I was 39.
"It wasn't their business to know where I was going, so for a while they called me '007;' the James Bond movies were popular at the time. But my activities prompted Ferree to start referring to me as 'The Mysterious Mr. X,' and it really stuck."
Barber, who was born in Shreveport, La., and played college golf at Arkansas before turning pro in 1958, is survived by his wife, Karen, and five children, Casey, Doug, Brad, Larry and Richard.
--The day before the start of the U.S. Open, the United States Golf Association announced a nationwide public-education campaign to address the game's growing problem of slow play.
The "While We're Young" campaign is part of a program launched earlier this year by the USGA in partnership with others in the golf industry concerned about the pace-of-play issue.
The USGA said it would enforce stricter policies on slow play at the U.S. Open, the second of the year's four majors.
"Pace of play has been an issue for decades, but it's now become one of the most significant threats to the health of the game," USGA president Glen D. Nager said.
"Five hour-plus rounds are common, and they're incompatible with modern life. Beyond the time involved, poor pace of play saps the fun from the game, takes too much time, frustrates players and discourages future play.
"In a recent study by the National Golf Foundation, 91 percent of serious golfers reported that they're bothered by slow play and say that it detracts from their golf experience."
According to Nager, more than 70 percent of golfers believe that pace of play had become a bigger problem in recent years and more than 50 percent admitted to walking off the golf course in frustration over the length of rounds.
Borrowing from the "While We're Young" phrase uttered by Rodney Dangerfield's character Al Czervik in the 1980 film "Caddyshack," the campaign takes a lighthearted approach to encourage golfers to improve pace of play.
Tiger Woods, the No. 1 player in the World Golf Rankings, has thrown his weight behind the campaign.
Woods, who was vocal in his frustration over slow play after he won the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in January, spoke when he learned the USGA planned to take on one of the biggest problems in golf, on and off the tour level.
"Pace of play is a big issue," Woods said. "Rounds of golf take too long, and no one enjoys it. ...
"We played nine holes in just over three hours (at Torrey Pines), and three of them are par 3s. I started losing my patience a little bit, and that's when I made a few mistakes."
The Golf Channel also has gotten into the act, declaring June as Pace of Play month, with a series of shorts that encourage amateur golfers to speed things up on the course.
--The CIMB Classic 2013, which will be the first official PGA Tour event in Asia to offer FedEx Cup points, has been moved to the West Course at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, organizers announced.
In the past, the tournament was played at the Mines Resort and Golf Club, which measures only 6,966 yards, and Nick Watney won the tournament by shooting 10-under-par 61 on the final day.
The West Course at Kuala Lumpur measures in excess of 7,000 yards and is considered more difficult that the Mines.
"The CIMB Classic is now a marquee event on the PGA Tour calendar," said Dato' Sri Nazir Razak, CIMB Group chief executive. "The event has grown from strength to strength over the last four years.
"This year it makes its debut as a full-fledged PGA Tour FedEx Cup event, with an increased field and a new venue. KLGCC is a venue that will give us the scale we need to take it to the next level."
The 2013-14 PGA Tour schedule starts on Oct. 7-13 with the Open at CordeValle Golf Club in San Martin, Calif., with the CIMB Classic scheduled to be the third event of the season on Oct. 27-30.
Early commitments to the CIMB Classic include Phil Mickelson and the past champions from the three-year history of the tournament -- Nick Watney, Ben Crane and Bo Van Pelt.
--Incidents of television viewers calling in to report suspected rules violations have become an issue on the PGA Tour this year, most notably when Tiger Woods was handed a two-stroke penalty for an improper drop during the Masters.
During the first rounds of the U.S. Open at Merion, viewers phoning in what they thought were violations by Steve Stricker and Adam Scott went 0-for-2.
Stricker's tee shot at the par-3 third hole seemed to land in a bunker, but hung up on grass and under a tree on the lip of the bunker. He was allowed to take a drop and one-stroke penalty because of an unplayable lie by an on-course official.
After taking his drop, Stricker walked up a hill and back down a few times, and the fan who called in believed he did it intentionally to improve his lie before hitting his next shot.
"I had a pine tree in my way and I was struggling to get the line of my drop," said Stricker, who carded a double-bogey 5 on the hole. "I couldn't see the wicker basket (famously used instead of flags on the pins at Merion).
"I dropped it in an area that was not disturbed."
Stricker said he was surprised when Thomas O'Toole, vice president of the United States Golf Association, asked him about it in the scoring trailer after he shot 1-over-par 71 in the first round.
O'Toole said he simply reviewed the situation with Stricker before determining there was no penalty.
"It's not an intent-based rule," O'Toole said. "In light of other things, we wanted to review it."
USGA spokesman Joe Goode told reporters that there were several calls and emails claiming that Scott grounded his club before hitting his shot from the edge of a hazard, just above a small stream on the left side of the fifth fairway.
After a review, the USGA again ruled there was no violation, and the bogey 5 that Scott made en route to a 72 stood up.

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