Watching Rory McIlroy play the first hole, the easiest at the Blue Monster this week, you might not have thought he would then go on to fire off six birdies on the front nine. He missed his second shot long and left of the green on the reachable par-5 No. 1, leaving himself short-sided to the pin. Then he duffed a chip and wiggled in a six-footer to save par. On the second hole he bombed his drive and hit his approach heavy, but then chipped in for birdie to spark his hot streak in the third round of the WGC-Cadillac Championship.
From there, well, he caught a spark on his way to posting six-under 30 without birdieing both par-5s. Can’t say you were too surprised — after all, he is the world’s No. 1 golfer.
After Rory made eagle on No. 10, the number “59” started to be tossed around as a possibility. No doubt it crossed his mind.
“Of course,” said Rory when asked. “I was nine-under through 12, you’re thinking four of the last six, and here we go. But obviously it didn’t happen like that.”
A bogey on No. 14 halted his momentum. He made another on No. 16 when he missed the fairway and didn’t really have a shot into the green — it’s tough to judge the Bermuda rough at Doral (sometimes it’ll jump out hot and other times it’ll get stuck). He hit his approach a little heavy and his chip rolled about 10 feet past the pin, and then didn’t get up-and-down.
Many players, including leader Bubba Watson, haven’t been shy that the golf course isn’t their favorite. I mean, honestly, I’ve been kinda joking around that I really like this event, except for the course (and don’t get me started on the management — it’s no wonder the place was going bankrupt). The Blue Monster is pretty mediocre and run-of-the-mill for a World Golf Championship event (then again, the Match Play isn’t held at the finest course, either).
Well, Rory, who is known for his candor, explained more or less why it only cost Donald Trump $150 million to buy up the entire resort.
“It’s a resort golf course, and it was a tough test 15 years ago but now it’s just got outdated,” said the 22-year-old from Northern Ireland. “They definitely need to do something with it, and it’s great to see that Trump’s taking over the place and he’s going to do a good job with it, I’m sure.”
What kind of changes would Rory suggest?
“I’m not sure,” he said. “But the first thing I’d do is change the grass. I mean, the grass here is not (good), even you can see on TV, it’s a little scrappy and it’s a little scruffy and aesthetically it doesn’t look great. Like they over-seeded last week at the Honda (Classic) and I thought it played really, really nicely. I’m sure they could do the same thing here.
“So that’s one thing. I have no clue about course design, so I couldn’t start to tell you what they could do differently. But yeah, that’s one of the things that I’d like to see here, if they just over-seeded it, I think it would be a lot better golf course.”
Over/under Trump will clean house and fire the current staff? I’ll take the over.
Besides his criticisms of the course conditions, it doesn’t fit Rory’s eye, either, according to his playing partner and BFF Graeme McDowell.
“I’m sure he’s a little disappointed,” said G-Mac, referring to the end result. “I think he’ll tell you himself it’s probably not his favorite golf course setup wit this type of bermuda rough and stuff, but he still gets it around.”
McDowell played sneaky well himself. He shot a five-under 67, but he said he felt like a spectator for a while.
“It was obviously fun to play with (Rory) and fun to watch him doing what he was doing,” said the 2010 U.S. Open champ. When he eagled 10 and birdied 12, obviously you know it was game on for the old magic number. He’s just so impressive to watch. I felt like I was shooting 80 — I had to keep reminding myself I was five-under par.”
Rory is tied for eighth (so is Tiger Woods) at nine-under through three rounds, but he probably has too many strokes to make up and not enough holes going into Sunday — he’d have to have a really special day since he’s currently trailing Watson by eight shots. Well, we’ve seen some crazy finishes already in 2012. Maybe tomorrow will continue that theme.
(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)