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!