May 28

Rory McIlroy struggles to 80 in Irish Open first round

For Rory McIlroy, it was a death by a thousand bogeys on Thursday at Royal County Down -- or, at least, it must have felt that way.

The world No. 1 and tournament host at the Irish Open shot 9-over 80 for his highest round since a final-round 80 in the 2011 Masters.

McIlroy didn't make a single birdie on the round, but he also didn't have a blow-up hole that ballooned his score in very windy conditions in Northern Ireland. He bogeyed half his holes, made pars on the other nine. McIlroy had to make an 8-footer at the last to save par and shoot 80. 

This is the second consecutive shocking round from McIlroy, who shot 78 in Round 2 of last week's BMW PGA Championship to miss the cut. His two-round total of 158 to straddle the two events is McIlroy's highest since shooting 80-78 to miss the cut as a 16-year-old in the 2005 British Masters. Then again, this if the fifth consecutive week McIlroy has played, starting in San Francisco for the WGC-Cadillac Match Play. He has flown some 7,000 miles in that stretch, winning twice and, barring some stunning Friday improvement, missing the cut twice.

Playing with reigning U.S. Open champion Martin Kaymer and Players champion Rickie Fowler, McIlroy and the German played in a combined 17 over par, not making a single birdie. Fowler, who finished top five in all four majors last year, managed an impressive even-par 71. 

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

May 28

Jack Nicklaus used the same 3-wood for all 18 major wins

How often do you buy new golf clubs? Every year, three years?

Would you use the same club for 37 years? No, you wouldn't, but Jack Nicklaus did and it helped him to 18 major titles.

Nicklaus used a 1958 MacGregor 693 3-wood to win all of his major championships and 73 PGA Tour titles. He stopped using it in 1995. It's now on display in the new Jack Nicklaus Room at the USGA's museum at its Far Hills, N.J. headquarters. 

While the 3-wood is out of his bag now, he still uses what he called "small-headed" irons. Fans ask him why he hasn't upgraded to modern irons that are much more forgiving than the sticks he used so masterfully. His answer is a window into why he stuck with the 3-wood for so long.

He said, "I say, what do you mean how do I hit it? I hit it all my life, why would I have any problem with it?"

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

May 27

Rory McIlroy faces fine for BMW PGA club hurl

Rory McIlroy is donating his winnings from this week's Irish Open to his foundation. He'll also be donating some money to the European Tour.

That's because McIlroy will face a fine for throwing his club in the second round of last week's BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth Club in England, according to Golfblot. 

"Rory will be disciplined under the players Code of Conduct for the club throw," said a European Tour official in an email to the publication.

McIlroy, who shot 78 in the second round to miss the cut a year after winning the Euro Tour's flagship event, threw his 3-wood some 30 yards after a poor swing on the par-5 17th.

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

May 27

Rory McIlroy to donate Irish Open prize money to charity if he wins



In just a year, world No. 1 has transformed the Irish Open from a middling European Tour event into a draw from the world's best players. 

Of course, pegging it at Royal County Down, a top-10 course in the world, helps attract a solid field. So, too, has McIlroy's active recruitment, which may also net a Tiger Woods appearance in 2016. 

The Ulsterman has put in the effort, in part, because the proceeds from the event will benefit his fairly new The Rory Foundation, which aims to support children and various worldwide children's charities. To that end, McIlroy said Wednesday that, McIlroy will donate his check back to his foundation. If he wins, that would amount to $638,000.

"Honestly, what I want to get out of it this year is just to raise a lot of money for the foundation for the cancer fund, and ultimately if I play well, and if I do well in the tournament, then all the money that I earn is going to go towards that as well," he said. 

"So I'm not really playing for myself this week. I'm playing for a lot of other people and it gives me an incentive to go out there and enjoy it and try to play well."

McIlroy's move is akin to what Woods has done with his Quicken Loans National, which benefits the Tiger Woods Foundation. It's a natural decision for these players.

However, McIlroy is taking it a step further this week. In addition to donating his earnings to his foundation, McIlroy will wear four pairs of Nike golf shoes designed by children whose lives have been impacted by cancer. 

Rory McIlroy's Irish Open Shoes Day 1
Rory McIlroy's Irish Open Shoes Day 2
Rory McIlroy's Irish Open Shoes Day 3
Rory McIlroy's Irish Open Shoes Day 4

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

May 27

12 players pull out of Byron Nelson for myriad reasons

Almost 10 percent of the original field for this week's AT&T Byron Nelson Championship has withdrawn ahead of the Thursday opener. A total of 12 players have pulled out for myriad reasons. 

Ian Poulter withdrew on Wednesday morning, citing on Twitter a "strain" he suffered in a gym workout. This was to be Poulter's final PGA Tour event of that season that wasn't a major, World Golf Championships or FedEx Cup playoffs event.

Past Nelson champion Jason Day withdrew when he experienced some dizziness on the host TPC Four Seasons course. 

Kevin Kisner, who has finished runner-up twice this season via playoff losses, pulled out earlier in the week. 

In addition, 2010 Open champion Louis Oosthuizen, 2015 Puerto Rico Open winner Alex Cejka, Scott Gardiner, Fredrik Jacobson, Jason Kokrak, Neal Lancaster, George McNeill, Chris Stroud and Will Zalatoris have withdrawn. That meant the likes of Ben Curtis and Trevor Immelman, both major champions, got in off the alternate list. However, former PGA Tour winner Tommy Gainey turned down a chance to play in the field when a spot opened for him, deciding to remain in the Tour event this week instead.

For some, injuries and health issues were a factor. For others, no doubt the state of TPC Four Seasons was a problem, with the course already drenched from rains pounding many areas of Texas. More rain is expected throughout tournament week.

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

May 27

U.S. Open Preview: Chambers Bay

From Pit To Prince: Eight months after opening, Chambers Bay got a U.S. Open, one of many firsts for an old mining site that has put a bounce in the Pacific Northwest.
Posted in Uncategorized
May 26

PGA Tour hooks up golf-crazed 4-year-old with Rory, Spieth Fatheads

Gavin Nalepa loves golf. He's been playing since he was 1 year old. He knows Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth like I knew He-Man, as Saturday (and Sunday) morning (and afternoon) superheroes. 

So when it came time for his fourth birthday party, the Ohioan wanted the world Nos. 1 and 2 to come to his party. Unfortunately, they were booked solid. Gavin's mom, Karla, had hoped to find the next best thing. She searched for Fatheads of the two players that she had seen when she and her husband took Gavin to the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational last summer. No dice; they're not sold to the public due to licensing concerns.

Karla did what any mom would do for her son: She kept on looking. She sent a message to the tournament's Facebook page, hoping for some help. 

Courtney Boroff, who manages the page, got the message, according to the Akron Beacon-Herald. Boroff decided to help out and give Gavin the next best thing to the best players on the planet. She sent the Fatheads from the event to the family so Gavin could celebrate in style.

“I got them out and showed him and he was so excited,” Karla said. “To him, Rory and Jordan were at his party.”

Gavin will be at Firestone C.C. for the annual event in August, and Boroff is hoping to get the Fatheads signed by both players. That would be one awesome belated birthday present.

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

May 26

Power rankings: AT&T Byron Nelson Championship

The PGA Tour concludes its Texas portion of the schedule this week with the AT&T Byron Nelson Championship at TPC Four Seasons (formerly known as TPC Las Colinas) in the Dallas area. 

Brendon Todd is defending champion at an event that has a tendency in recent year to identify breakout performers as champions, including Jason Day, Jason Dufner and Jason -- I mean, Keegan -- Bradley.

Jordan Spieth headlines the field again this week, looking to continue the momentum from yet another runner-up finish, this time at Colonial.

Take a look at our top five picks for the week.

1. Jordan Spieth -- He was T-2 last week and was one bad Friday hole away from winning. He hasn't contended here as a pro, but this was the tournament that got him truly into the public consciousness with his performance as a 17-year-old.

2. Dustin Johnson -- Johnson has cooled off since coming hot out of the gate from his six months away from the PGA Tour. However, a T-7 here last year in a nice indicator, and he's been in the top seven in three of his last four Nelson starts dating back to 2010.

3. Jason Day -- Day hasn't missed the cut in four Nelson starts, including a breakthrough win in 2010. He's been in a bit of a rut compared to his pace toward the end of last year, but this place lines up well for him.

4. Justin Thomas -- Thomas is on the verge of winning and has been in the top 12 in three of his last four PGA Tour starts. He's great through three rounds, then just can't get over the hump on Sunday. 

5. Marc Leishman -- The Aussie has cashed in his last four starts and his life has likely settled down some after his wife's health scare near the Masters. Has a very nice Nelson record: made five of six cuts and hasn't finished outside of the top 12 when he makes a check.

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