Feb 27

Rory McIlroy misses the cut at The Honda Classic

The bad news for Rory McIlroy is he is going to miss the cut at The Honda Classic.

The good news is he is a short drive from a weekend at home.

McIlroy shot 4-over 74 on Friday at PGA National and, at 7-over total, won't be around for the final 36 holes in his 2015 PGA Tour debut. 

The world No. 1, along with the late-early half of the draw at the Champion course, had to endure two weather delays on Friday -- the first for rain, the second for electrical storms in the Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. area. McIlroy only managed to play two holes before play was initially stopped at 8:23 a.m. He played another hole after the resumption of play at 10:31 a.m. However, the horn was blown again at 10:55 a.m. and did not pick back up until 12:31 p.m. Between the two stoppages, play was halted for over three-and-a-half hours. Second round play will not be completed on Friday.

McIlroy's front nine, starting on No. 10, was relatively clean, dropping two shots to par with bookend bogeys. However, three bogeys in the final four holes, starting immediately after his only birdie on the round, sent the four-time major winner home.

Given how McIlroy has been playing since last summer, the missed cut comes as a surprise. In two 2015 starts on the European Tour, he finished runner-up in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship and won the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

This is the 11th time McIlroy has missed the cut on the PGA Tour. However, it is the first time McIlroy has missed a PGA Tour cut since the 2013 Open Championship, ending a streak of 22 consecutive cuts made.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Feb 27

Stacy Lewis in control by 3 at Honda LPGA Thailand

Stacy Lewis has a message for the golf world: She's not going anywhere.

The world No. 3 had a statement round on Friday on Day 2 of the Honda LPGA Thailand, shooting 8-under 64 at Siam Country Club to take a three-shot edge into the weekend over Amy Yang.

Lewis, who turned 30 on Feb. 17, knows this is a course where there's no room for holding pat.

"Tomorrow is just keep looking forward," Lewis said. "I did a good job of that today, of not looking at the leaderboards and what anybody behind me was doing. Just kept focusing on the next shot."

Curiously, Yang is the player who stared down Lydia Ko last weekend for the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open at Royal Melbourne before blinking in the final four holes. Yang is playing well because she ended her 2014 season earlier than usual, in October, and recharged her batteries.

“You know, sometimes you get tired of what you’re doing,” Yang said. “I think that’s what happened to me last year. That’s why I decided to finish season earlier, too. But over the winter while I’m resting I wanted to play more golf.  Finally my mind changed and I wanted to go back there and play in contention if I can.”

Ariya Jutanugarn, who has enjoyed one of the hottest starts to the 2015 LPGA season, is tied for third at 8 under with Caroline Masson, Jenny Shin and Mirim Lee.

Inbee Park, world No. 2 and the 2013 champion and '14 runner-up in this event, trails Lewis by 14 heading into the final 36 holes.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Feb 27

Honda Classic leader Herman credits Trump for push to PGA Tour

There's a good chance you hadn't heard of Jim Herman before Thursday.

The first-round leader at The Honda Classic has two top-10 finishes in his prior 75 career PGA Tour starts, with both coming in 2013. The opening 65 he shot at PGA National isn't his career low on Tour, but it is by far his best round given the conditions and competition. He's never led on the PGA Tour.

There's an even better chance you would never have heard of Jim Herman on Thursday were it not for Donald Trump.

Back in 2006, Herman had grown weary of mini-tours and Monday qualifiers, taking a job as an assistant pro at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J. It was there Trump noticed Herman and encouraged him.

“Got into a nice conversation with Donald, Mr. Trump, one day,” Herman said. “He’s like, `Why are you folding shirts and giving lessons? Why aren't you on the Tour? I've played with tour players, you're good enough.’

“I don't know, maybe something like that gives you more confidence."

Herman calls Trump's club in nearby Jupiter, Fla., his home course and wears the Trump logo on his golf shirts and bag. The reason is simple, Herman said: "He’s been influential in getting me to the Tour."


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Feb 26

Sergio Garcia did his best Bill Haas impression at The Honda Classic

Sergio Garcia's tee shot to the par-5 18th in Round 1 of The Honda Classic didn't go where he hoped. It went in the water.

But when Garcia, who said he played Seve-like golf last week in contention at the Northern Trust Open, came upon his ball barely submerged in the hazard up the right of the hole, he decided it was worth a whack. After putting on his waterproof gear, Garcia stepped in and took a swing. 

It was a great play for the Spaniard, who not only got the ball back in the fairway, but advanced it. He wound up making par at his ninth hole of the day, eventually shooting 2-over 72 on a difficult scoring day at PGA National.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Feb 26

Yani Tseng opened Honda LPGA Thailand with 66 to share lead

Yani Tseng, nice to see you again atop a LPGA leaderboard.

Shooting an opening 6-under 66 on Thursday, Tseng shares the lead after Round 1 of the Honda LPGA Thailand with Stacy Lewis and Brittany Lang.

''Could be better, could be worse,'' said Tseng. ''I miss(ed) couple short putts, but I just tell myself to smile and let it go.''

Tseng, a five-time major winner and former No. 1, has slipped to 90th in the Rolex Rankings as she has lost her game, in part because she struggled with the pressure of the world's top ranking. However, she is now working with a new teacher, Claude Harmon III, and a new trainer, David Donatucci, in hopes of regaining her form and confidence.

“They just keep me so relaxed and believing in myself,” she said. “I know I can do it. I just need my swing good. (And when) I swing good, I just need to be mentally very tough. So I’m working on my mental (game) and trying to be tougher and tougher out there.”

If there's a place for Tseng to break through again, it's in Thailand. In seven career starts, she has two wins and has never finished outside the top seven.

“I feel like coming back here," she said, "It’s always the start of the season and I feel fresh and it gives me good energy."


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Feb 25

McIlroy: I want to be No. 1 ‘for as long as I can’

Rory McIlroy has every intention of being the top-ranked player in the world for a long time.

McIlroy, who enjoys a sizable edge over Bubba Watson, the No. 2 player in the Official World Golf Ranking, makes his 2015 U.S. debut on Thursday in The Honda Classic, played in his adopted American hometown. Entering his 31st consecutive week at No. 1 in the world, McIlroy is precisely where he wants to be in his career.

“It's what I've always wanted to do," he said. "I would be wasting my time if I was out there practicing as much as I do, and putting as much into it, if I didn't want to be in this position. And wasting the people's time around me, as well, that helped me get to this point.

“Of course I want to be that guy. I said it last year. Golf is waiting for someone like that to step forward, put their hand up and win the big tournaments. Yeah, this is the position I want to be in, and I want to be in it as long as I can.”

The Ulsterman, who won two seasons last year, is riding a hot streak, having finished no worse than second in his last eight European Tour starts dating back to 2014. He's already won this year at the Dubai Desert Classic and finished second to start his year at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship. Though he hasn't played in three weeks, he's not concerned about a layoff.

“People talk about momentum and talk about sort of riding it, but I think momentum and confidence are two very similar things in golf," he said Wednesday. "If you’re confident and you’ve had good performances, that confidence seems to carry on; and if you’re happy with how practice goes, then you’re obviously going to be confident going into tournaments."

Not only is McIlroy by far the best player on the planet right now, but he has a great track record at PGA National. McIlroy was a winner on the Champion course in 2012 and a playoff runner-up last year.

However, he had an embarrassing incident in this event in 2013, pulling out after eight holes in the second round with a phantom dental problem. McIlroy has come so far since then, and he views that time as part of a learning curve he's long past.

“I’m in a great position and I feel like I handle the position I’m in a lot better than I did a couple of years ago,” said McIlroy. “I’ve got more experience at it.  I’ve spent well over a year of my career at world No. 1, so I’m pretty used to it by now."


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Feb 25

Woods’ ex-coach Foley: ‘If he wants to,’ Woods will get game back

Tiger Woods is at a crossroads, where his personal life and professional career meet.

Woods is 39 and a father of two growing kids inching toward their formative years, sharing custody with ex-wife Elin Nordegren. He's also a 14-time major winner with 79 PGA Tour wins, an ailing back, a troubled short game and an erratic driver.

What's more important? It seems family is winning, and former coach Sean Foley is supportive.

“The golf world doesn’t want that, but he’s my friend, and to watch him with his kids, he’s easily one of the most patient fathers I have ever seen,” Foley said to the Toronto Sun.

“If you win a tournament, it feels good, but you go home and your kid takes a bee-line at you and jumps in your arms that just feels better. So I’m sure, as we all get older, we all have this kind of discussion with ourselves. And I’m sure he’s had it.”

Foley -- who started working with Woods in 2010, less than a year after his public shaming related to extramarital affairs -- said Woods is in a far better place now as a father than when they first met.

“My hat’s off to him because I think he’s seeing things for how they matter, and if that upsets the golf world, then so be it," Foley said. 

Woods announced Feb. 11 that he won't play on the PGA Tour again until his game is "tournament ready." On one hand, his agent Mark Steinberg says Woods is working hard on his game and wants to play tournaments. On the other hand, he isn't in this week's Honda Classic, just miles from his home in Jupiter, Fla.

Several of the game's legends, including Jack Nicklaus and Greg Norman, believe there's some kind of mental block keeping Woods from performing at even an adequate level. Foley sees the gap as one of desire. 

Asked if Woods will get his game back, Foley responded, “He’s Tiger Woods. If he wants to, he will. It’s that simple.”


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Feb 25

The 19th Hole Golf Show: Does the U.S. have the right Ryder Cup approach?

Davis Love III is the new-old 2016 U.S. Ryder Cup captain, and he's back with more knowledge, a hunger and an ear open to hearing from his future players.

Love is also the front man for a new approach to the biennial matches. The changes the PGA of America and its now-dissolved task force are good and almost universally liked. So why did it take a task force to implement common sense?

And what happens if the U.S. loses?

Be sure to subscribe to our podcast on iTunesTuneIn or Stitcher.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Feb 25

Love installed as 2016 U.S. Ryder Cup captain with reformed system

Common sense prevailed. 

The PGA of America revealed a new approach to the Ryder Cup at its Florida headquarters on Tuesday, fronted by a familiar face.

Davis Love III was formally introduced as the 2016 U.S. Ryder Cup captain, and he will complete his team with more time to find the hot hands that can help the Americans end a three-match losing streak in the biennial series.

Eight players will automatically qualify for the team based on a retooled points system which starts next week with the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral. Qualifying will end after the 2016 Barclays, the first leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs. With the 2016 PGA Championship moving to July to accommodate golf's return to the Olympics that August, the typical cutoff of the season's final major had to change. However, moving the late August date will continue to stand in non-Olympic years.

Love will then make three of his four captain's picks after the BMW Championship, a week's more time than recent captains. Finally, Love, who is the eighth man to be a multiple-time U.S. captain, will complete his team with a last pick after the Tour Championship so that he can grab the absolute hottest hand before the matches.

While the captain's picks have been re-engineered to allow on-form players to make a last push, Love and future captains will have a support system rooted in experience. Going forward, Ryder Cup captains will field four vice-captains -- two former captains and two players with significant Ryder Cup experience. Love has already courted 2006 captain Tom Lehman as a vice-captain. Lehman, like Love, was a member of the 11-man task force charged with creating this infrastructure after the 2014 loss at Gleneagles. There's no indication that a future captain will need to have first served as a vice-captain.

The task force has been dissolved, too, but has been replaced with a permanent, smaller Ryder Cup committee. It'll have six members: the PGA of America's president, vice-president and CEO, as well Davis Love III, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods. This committee will handle future captain selections and other Ryder Cup decisions.

Whatever you think of Phil Mickelson's post-defeat Scottish outburst, the task force or naming Love captain again, the U.S. appeared to put on a more unified, solidified front on Tuesday. How much influence that will ultimately have on the 12 men representing the U.S. at Hazeltine in 2016 is unclear. An even scarier unknown is what will happen next if the Americans lose again.


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Feb 24

Greg Norman: ‘I doubt’ Tiger Woods can return to top form

Greg Norman knows a thing or two about dealing with mental scar tissue. He's faced huge letdowns on the biggest stages with the utmost class. So when he is speaking about the toll golf can take on a player's mind, he's an expert.

Norman, a Hall of Famer who spent more than six years as the world's No. 1 golfer, told Matt Lauer on "The Today Show" on Tuesday that he doesn't think Tiger Woods will ever return to top form.

"Quite honestly, I doubt it," Norman said. "Not the way he was in 2000 on for eight or nine years."

The 60-year-old expressed what's become a common sentiment: something is wrong with Woods' head.

"Mentally he's a little unraveled," Norman said.

“Imagine with what we’ve seen since December of last year, with his short game [and] chipping," Norman continued. "Imagine standing over the back of the 12th green at Augusta National, and you’ve got to chip it down there, Rae’s Creek right in front of you, or the back of the 15th of Augusta National . . . all those gremlins are going to be sitting in his head.”

Woods announced Feb. 11 that he would not compete on the PGA Tour again until he felt his game is "tournament ready." He is skipping this week's Honda Classic near his home in Jupiter, Fla. It's unclear when Woods will play next, but many anticipate his return at the end of March at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, a tournament he has won eight times. A start at Bay Hill would be a likely indicator of an intention to play in the Masters.

Mark Steinberg, Woods' agent, has made public statements on Woods' behalf, suggesting his client is champing at the bit to play again. However, Woods isn't playing this week and can't play next week at the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral because he isn't in the world top 50.

The disparity between what Steinberg says and Woods' absence indicates caused an anonymous PGA Tour player, speaking to Golfweek, to suggest there's something more to Woods' woes than chipping and driving.

The player said, "[Steinberg is] covering for him.”

Watch the entire Greg Norman interview right here:


Ryan Ballengee is a Yahoo Sports contributor. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.