Player expects McIlroy to learn from Open disappointment

By Sports Desk July 22, 2019

Gary Player is backing Rory McIlroy to bounce back from his desperately disappointing display at the Open Championship, believing the Northern Irishman will learn from the experience.

Much was expected of home hopeful McIlroy at Royal Portrush last week, but a quadruple bogey at the first set the tone for a miserable opening round as he carded a 79.

Despite a recovery on Friday, the four-time major champion fell one stroke short of the cut line and bowed out before the weekend.

But while a lot has been said and written about McIlroy's dismal start and end to his first 18 - finishing with a triple bogey at the last - Player sees another lesson in the day's play.

McIlroy three-putted from inside five feet for a double bogey at 16 and, had he kept his composure, victory would still have been a possibility, according to three-time Open champion Player.

Regardless, the South African sees McIlroy, still just 30, soon ending a wait for a major title that goes back to 2014.

"When you're as prominent a player as Rory and something happens, everybody is quick to be critical, as people are in life," Player told Omnisport, speaking at The Berenberg Gary Player Invitational.

"He learned a very good lesson, because he didn't buckle down on two short putts and missed them and then ended up missing the cut by one shot.

"If he'd made the cut, he could have gone on to win the tournament because you're talking about one of the three most talented men in the world today. I'm a big Rory fan.

"He made a mistake, so what? Is there anybody who plays golf that hasn't? No, I've never seen that happen.

"He's won four majors already, which is remarkable. He just won the Canadian Open with 20-something [22] under par.

"People are very quick to give an opinion. He'll go on to win a lot more majors and tournaments. He's tremendously talented."

Related items

  • Munoz clinches first PGA Tour title with play-off win Munoz clinches first PGA Tour title with play-off win

    Sebastian Munoz secured his maiden PGA Tour victory with a play-off win at the Sanderson Farms Championship on Sunday.

    The Colombian holed a late birdie in regulation at the Country Club of Jackson to force a play-off with Im Sung-jae.

    A par at the first play-off hole was enough for Munoz, who became just the second Colombian to win on the PGA Tour, joining Camilo Villegas.

    "It was just a great day," Munoz told the Golf Channel.

    "Putts weren't going in but me and my caddie just stayed confident, like it's coming, it's coming, it's coming and when it came, this place just erupted, it was awesome. Just speechless.

    "[Joaquin Niemann's win at the Greenbrier Classic] definitely gave me the belief that I needed, the little extra belief that I'm good enough, that I'm here and it's just crazy."

    Munoz fired a two-under 70 in the final round, but needed a dramatic late birdie to finish at 18 under alongside Im (66).

    He holed a 14-footer for birdie at the last before both players made a nervous start to the play-off, wayward off the tee and with their second shots.

    But, having left himself in a better position, Munoz managed a par after Im missed his attempt.

    Byeong Hun An (69) was outright third at 17 under, a shot ahead of Kevin Streelman (64) and Carlos Ortiz (71).

  • Wentworth joy for Willett as former Masters winner lands PGA Championship glory Wentworth joy for Willett as former Masters winner lands PGA Championship glory

    Former Masters champion Danny Willett held off Jon Rahm to win the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

    The Sheffield-born 31-year-old completed a stunning week in Surrey with a closing five-under-par 67 to reach 20 under through 72 holes.

    It meant he finished three clear of Spaniard Rahm, with whom he had been level-pegging at the start of the day.

    Rahm made 70 - his worst score of the week - to finish one in front of South African Christiaan Bezuidenhout, who carded a 68.

    Americans Billy Horschel and Patrick Reed had stirring final rounds of 65 and 66 respectively to tie for fourth on 15 under.

    Further down the field, Justin Rose tied for eighth after back-to-back double bogeys at 12 and 13 scuppered his hopes of a late charge.

    And Rory McIlroy left it too late to challenge, with the Northern Irishman's opening 76 on Thursday having given him too much ground to make up.

    He followed Saturday's 65 with 6, but McIlroy could only tie for ninth with Englishman Andrew 'Beef' Johnston. Open champion Shane Lowry closed with a 66 to tie for 11th with Paul Casey and Viktor Hovland.

    If the crowds continued to lap up some McIlroy magic, the glory belonged exclusively to Willett, who has pulled his game together in the last 18 months after experiencing a miserable slump in form since his 2016 Augusta triumph.

    At one stage he slipped outside the world's top 450. However, winning the World Tour Championship in Dubai at the end of 2018 proved to Willett he could be a champion again.

    And after finishing joint-sixth at The Open in July, he has landed another significant trophy - the first European Tour title he has won in the United Kingdom.

    Willett produced six birdies in his closing round, but it was arguably the putt he made for bogey at the 11th that made all the difference, after going a long way right off the tee and then being bunkered.

    At that stage a double would have allowed Rahm to draw level on 17 under, but Willett rolled in a 40-footer to give away only one shot, to his obvious relief, and birdies at 17 and 18 completed the job in style.

    "It doesn't get much better does it?" Willett told Sky Sports. "An emotional week. It was a good battle out there - with myself more than anyone else - and it’s nice to come through.

    "[I've had] an undying want to get back there. I was willing to change whatever had to be changed and I think that's pretty hard to do, it's hard to jump full throttle into something that you're not quite sure if it's going to work out or not.

    He added: "Dubai was a special week but to be able to come here at the BMW PGA Championship in front of home crowds at Wentworth and come away winning is special."

  • Munoz claims lead at Sanderson Farms Championship Munoz claims lead at Sanderson Farms Championship

    Sebastian Munoz climbed to the top of the Sanderson Farms Championship leaderboard with a nine-under-par 63 in the third round.

    Munoz was flawless as the Colombian golfer earned a one-stroke lead heading into the final round of the PGA Tour tournament in Jackson, Mississippi on Saturday.

    A one-time Web.com winner in 2016, Munoz had nine birdies without dropping a shot to improve to 16 under through 54 holes at the Country Club of Jackson.

    Munoz birdied his first three holes and four of his opening five to set the tone on the penultimate day – the 26-year-old ending the round ahead of Mexico's Carlos Ortiz (65).

    Overnight leader Byeong Hun An dropped down to third and two shots off the pace following his two-under-par 70.

    An entered the round with a two-stroke advantage on the back of successive 66s but the South Korean was unable to maintain his charge.

    A pair of birdies during his final three holes saw An close out the round at 14 under, one shot clear of Cameron Percy (68).

    Meanwhile, Dominic Bozzelli (67), Im Sung-jae (67), Harris English (68), J.T. Poston (70) and George McNeill (70) are tied for fifth at 12 under.

    As for defending champion Cameron Champ, he is nine shots off the pace following his 69.

© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.