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McIlroy, Tour Have Much To Chew On

Whether it was a bad molar, a bad wrinkle in his golf swing or just a bad attitude, when Rory McIlroy took his swoosh and suddenly went home Friday morning at the Honda Classic, it was shocking. It generated breaking news bulletins on Golf Channel. The Associated Press tweeted a link to its story. Skepticism was trending. McIlroy was 7 over par through eight holes and that’ll make your teeth hurt quicker than a box of Bit-O-Honeys. Considering what has happened already in the first two months of this golf year, McIlroy’s mid-round pick-up was – should I say it? – par for the … no, I can’t say that, but you know what I mean. Golf may be slow. It may be too expensive. But anyone who says it’s boring isn’t paying attention. The closest thing to a normal week this season came in L.A., not exactly the center of white-bread America. The weather was good, the traffic was typically lousy and it was a nice, feel-good story when local star John Merrick won his first PGA Tour event in the shadow of Bogart’s tree. Otherwise, this season has been stranger than Duck Dynasty – and none of it has involved John Daly. Think about all we’ve had from the shores of Kapalua to the condos of West Palm Beach:

w Wind.


w Flirting – with 59 by Phil Mickelson.

w Fog.

w Falling on your butt – by Mickelson on

the 18th hole at Pebble Beach.

w Snow.

w A closed door players meeting in San

Diego.

w An open discussion period about the

proposed anchoring ban.

w Matt Kuchar’s mittens.

w Secrecy – Bubba Watson won’t reveal

what he’ll serve at The Masters champions

dinner.

w Accusations of cheating – against

Keegan Bradley and his belly putter.

w The PGA Tour getting its opposition on.

w Six caddies – all for Webb Simpson while

waiting for regular Paul Tesori to return.

w No. 75 for Tiger Woods.

w Deer antler spray.

w Pain – Brandt Snedeker wins a tournament,

climbs to No. 4 in the world and

gets sidelined by sore ribs.

w Let’s say it again just for the fun of it –

deer antler spray.

w A Camilo Villegas sighting on Thursday

at the Honda.

w James Hahn’s Gangnam Style dance.

All that’s missing – besides McIlroy on a weekend – is somebody posting themselves in a “Harlem Shake” video. Perhaps I speak too soon. There’s a new Golf Boys video rumored to be coming out in the near future. Golf needs this. Not the Golf Boys video, but all the weird stuff that has been happening. There’s been so much commotion, it has been hard to take a golf nap on Saturday afternoon. What does it all mean? For McIlroy, it means having the bolt tightened a little more on his relatively new life as the game’s No. 1 player. Everything he does now is seen through a larger lens, whether he’s vacationing with his girlfriend or missing cuts. While some questioned the authenticity of McIlroy’s wisdom tooth assertion last week, he deserves the benefit of the doubt. He has been refreshingly open and candid in his dealings with the media and his expanding fan base. Mix frustration, embarrassment and a throbbing tooth and it’s understandable that McIlroy might do what he did. It’s fair to assume he’s not too proud of it and, my guess is, he’ll turn it into motivation. Remember McIlroy at Kiawah last August? His motivation had been questioned before he won the PGA Championship by eight shots. “I don’t think I could have answered it in any better way,” McIlroy said then. “To be honest, it did motivate me. I did want to go out there and prove a few people wrong. That’s what I did.” Perhaps the next McIlroy moment will come at The Masters. Hopefully by the time the first pimento cheese sandwich is consumed at Augusta, this whole anchoring mess will have been resolved. Power struggles are never pretty and that’s what this issue has become. The PGA Tour is trying to strong-arm the USGA and R&A into backing off the proposed ban with Tim Finchem spinning the Tour’s objection with numbers that belonged in a big and tall shop. The Tour’s position was no great surprise. What will be a surprise will be if the USGA and R&A back off their proposal. They would appear to be surrendering to the PGA Tour rather than fulfilling their role as guardians of the game. The USGA and R&A have made the right decision. Now it’s time to make it official and the sooner the better. Besides, inquiring minds want to know if Bubba will serve barbecue to Billy Payne and the boys

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