Abu/Hope Semi Live Blog

Saturday Semi Live:

Entering Sunday, Rory Staking

Claim as World’s Best

7:40 EST:  What seemed like a methodical start for Rory McIlroy wound up leaving a smile on the tortoise.  On a day when the rabbits got off to a flying start, Rory showed slow and steady can still win a race.

Mind you, there is still the matter of Sunday, but on Saturday the world saw that a fully healthy Rory McIlroy is quite a different player from the one we saw the past two seasons.

Rory’s round was not without drama, however.  On a day of par-birdie-par efficiency, Rory stumbled on a par-3, starting with a tee shot into the 15th’s greenside bunker.  Trying to do too much, Rory left his second shot in the bunker.  His third was not miles better, but he did get the ball out of the bunker, albeit on the frog hair, not the green.  Staring at a double, Rory puts the ball in the hole to salvage bogey.

Two holes later, Rory leaves his approach shot short of the putting surface, disappointing the masses watching from the hospitality suites surrounding the green.  Not wanting the crowd to leave disappointed, Rory holes the chip.  A ho-hum two-putt birdie on the 18th sets the table for a potential cathartic win by Mr. McIlroy.

Posting his score, Rory sat one back of Pieters — who still had the rather easy 18th to play — and level with Fisher, who was playing alongside Pieters.  Pieters struggled but sank a substantial putt on the final green to maintain his one-stroke lead.  Fisher birdied the last, so will join Pieters in the final group tomorrow.  Here’s where we sit heading into Sunday’s round:

Pieters     -17
Fisher      -17
Rory        -16
Fitzpatrick -15
Fleetwood   -15

5 am EST: Looks like white pants and a solid, brightly-colored shirt is the uniform at Abu Dhabi.  Rory, in black pants, is easy to spot.  McIlroy, not playing horribly, is losing ground.  Of course Fitzpatrick is threatening 55, so it’s hard to gain ground on such a day.  In reality, Pieters is the bigger threat to create a big lead in that he has several more holes left to play than does Fitzpatrick.  The course is quite easy today.

These Brit (and Euro and South African) announcers are so good.  They serve as a constant reminder of how coarse, witless, and babbling our American broadcasts are.  I got a kick out of the announcer saying that how a player and caddy conversing quietly were to be imitated by those caddies and players who speak loudly, as if the world wants to hear.  While I oftentimes like to hear the discussion, he has a point.

Friday (night): It’s The Andy Landry Polka!

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Aziz Ansari and the “Bad Date”

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This Week in Golf

This Week in Golf:

Abu Dhabi:  Rory.  After such a disappointing year, I’m hoping he can return to form.  I believe it was a lingering rib injury last year, but has he really been completely healthy since hurting his ankle playing soccer?  Or, frankly, since he started posting dead lift photos.  It’s been frustrating for me, so I know it’s got to have been frustrating for him.

Hope Desert Classic:  Corey Pavin.  He won this thing twice.  Wouldn’t it be cool if he could conquer all the young long knockers?

Web.com:  Saw today Spencer Levin has dropped to the web.com tour.  He has never won a PGA Tour event, once losing a heartbreaker with a horrid Sunday back nine.  (It’s a long story involving Kyle Stanley, who had lost a heartbreaker one week earlier…)  He lost another time in a playoff.  It seems like the universe needs a Spencer Levin win in order to get back in balance.  (I did notice today, he has three Canadian Tour wins, so it’s not as tragic a situation as it might appear.)

Abu Dhabi:  Graeme McDowell.  The BBC interview was much, much shorter than the NLU interview, but still good.  A key, and honest, point from Graeme to the European Tour reporter: While playing well enough to make the Euro Ryder Cup team and play in France would be nice, the reality is that keeping his PGA Tour card is far-and-away priority one.

Hope Desert Classic:  Old Schoolers Mark Brooks and Lee Janzen; John Daly; Maverick McNealy; Chesson Hadley; Bubba.  Is Bill Clinton still associated with this tournament?  Is NBC broadcasting?  If so, look for Rachel Maddow in the booth with Clinton for NBC’s trademark nonstop Trump-bashing assault.  They can accuse players of being Russian.  Insist they are lying about their scores.

Abu Dhabi:  Chase Koepka.  That just has to be Brooks’s brother, no?  Son?  Father?  Sister?  Cousin?  There’s a relation, I’m telling you.

NFL:  It’s funny to watch the hype machine in such a panic.  There’s a big push to say the ratings decline is NOT due to players dragging politics into sports and alienating fans with their protests.  However, last year’s decline was blamed on a quite bizarre presidential race, right?  And with validity: Hillary-Trump pushed pretty much every political button.  So, the NFL expected this year’s ratings to bounce bigly.  That they haven’t lends support to the idea that most of the problem is — no matter how much the NFL and media deny it — the protesting.  (This is one of those fairly obvious points you never hear.)  Instead we hear that it’s bad QBs, too many penalties, too many commercials.  Things viewers have been griping about since the 1960’s.  I guess it just took 50 years to show up in the ratings…

Name of the Week:  Talor Gooch.

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Five-Year Plan, NLU, etc.

On a tip from a reader, I dug up the NLU interview of Graeme McDowell.  It was unbelievably good.  A mature, grownup interview.  Graeme’s intelligence and honest introspection shine through.  People are accustomed to interviews full of hee-hee’s, hah-hah’s, repeated stories, and zero substance, so this was a breath of fresh air.  Give Soly his due for allowing the interview to take on a philosophical bent.  I’ll have more to say about NLU in the future, and I’ll also be using the interview as a jumping off place to discuss various topics.

I’ve added Graeme to my Make Me Pay pledge list.  I’d love to see him have a great year.

I still have not found much of substance regarding Graeme’s 5-year plan.  This interview  (from last October) didn’t specifically mention it, although Graeme said he planned to work on fitness.  Which gibes with what this (very short) BBC article says.***  I checked Graeme’s Twitter account and found nothing there, either.  Maybe the media made a bigger deal out of it than it was.  When you hear Five Year Plan, you think charts and graphs and dates.

I’ll end with one specific remark about the interview:

What the heck did Graeme say right at the 3-minutes mark!  “I’ve got a massive rye ta rong me.”  Might be something “around me,” but I can’t make it out.

*** I’m anti-video.  If I’m reading an article, I want written words, not video.  I can go to YouTube for video.  So…  the BBC article had a a 3-1/2 minute interview with Graeme which I blithely overlooked.  Graeme mentions wanting to up his fitness and play well not just this year, but the next five or eight.  I guess that is the “five year plan” the media has been going on about.

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Farewell to Dolores O’Riordan

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Hawaiian Open Semi-Live Blog

Monday Wrap

Well, I can’t say the finale was totally devoid of interest, but I can say I totally forgot to watch it.  I pulled up the leaderboard and saw the event was nearly concluded.  James Hahn, whom I pull for because of his shoe salesman backstory, was potentially in a playoff.  I see now that not only did the playoff happen, but it lasted half a dozen holes.  I intended to check in and watch any extra holes, but instead picked up a book and completely forgot about golf.  Oh, well.  Hahn didn’t win, but he got a huge check, I’m sure.

On to the UAE.  Abu and Dubai are now some of the bigger Euro events.  Lots of appearance fees, yes, but, hey, these players have jets to fuel.  It occurs to me that I have never written “Abu Dubai Doo.”  Plenty of other variations, but not that particular one.  Until now. Continue reading

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Best. Sports. Video. Ever.

It would be impossible to overhype the coolness of this video:

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