Welcome to the Dew Sweeper, your one-stop shop to catch up on the weekend action from the golf world. From the professional tours, trending news, social media headlines and upcoming events, here’s every golf-related thing you need to know for the morning of June 10.
Rory chases 59
Months ago, Rory McIlroy was afflicted with the “Sunday scaries,” a curious run of final-round no-shows raising questions about the four-time major winner’s mindset. As the sport heads to its third major, those questions have been buried with vigor.
McIlroy birdied five of his first seven Hamilton Golf & Country Club in route to a nine-under 61, lapping the field by seven shots at the RBC Canadian Open.
“I don’t know what golf course Rory is playing today, but it was just incredible,” Shane Lowry, who tied for second with Webb Simpson, said.
It was nearly historic, as an eagle at the par-5 17th gave McIlroy a shot at 59. Alas, he missed the green and failed to save par at the final hole. No matter: his 22-under score bested the previous Canadian Open record, set by Johnny Palmer in 1952, by five.
“I feel like my consistency this year has been great,” McIlroy said. “I’ve basically been in the top 10 most weeks that I’ve played. I’ve been consistent.”
No kidding. McIlroy, who also won the Players this season, has finished in the top six in seven of his 13 starts in 2019. He leads the tour in strokes gained, is second in distance and third in average scoring. As for those final-round issues? The 61 moved McIlroy from T-74 in Sunday scoring to T-29.
Conversely, the 30-year-old—fairly or not— is one judged by majors, and majors only. And though he’s a former U.S. Open champ, McIlroy—who’s last major victory came in 2014—has struggled at the event as of late, with just one top-25 finish at the tournament since his 2011 victory. Moreover, no player has ever won the week before the U.S. Open and gone on to win the national championship.
Then again, you bet against the guy who just burned Canada to the ground.
G-Mac is shipping off to Portrush
Royal Portrush is hosting its first Open Championship. And one of its own will be competing for the claret jug.
Graeme McDowell, who could walk to the venerable links as a child, punched his Open ticket on Sunday. In dramatic fashion too, dropping a 30-footer for par on the 18th to secure a Portrush invite:
At the beginning of the year, that bid appeared less than promising. The Ulsterman hadn’t won an event since 2015, had dropped to 259th in the world rankings and lost his tour card. Yet a win at Puerto Rico brought him out of the wilderness, and a T-7 at the Valero Texas Open proved it was no fluke.
The par putt equated to a final-round 68, translating to a T-8 finish that was good enough for one of three Open exemptions up for grabs to those not already qualified. (Adam Hadwin wrangled another; the third went unclaimed, as a player must finish in the top 10 to earn a spot.)
McDowell had come close earlier this year to winning a return to his homeland at Bay Hill, and acknowledged the goal had been weighing on him.
“I think I had a reasonable belief in myself that I was going to be able to take care of it one of these weeks. Obviously as the pressure started to build it was going to be more difficult as it went along,” McDowell said afterwards. “Obviously very proud to have got one of the Open Championship spots and get that little monkey off my back and let me go and play some golf the next few weeks.”
Of course, before he returns to Northern Ireland, McDowell will be playing in Pebble Beach, site of his 2010 U.S. Open triumph. Not a bad few days for G-Mac.
Lexi’s bounce back
Lexi Thompson has made more news outside the ropes than in the past few seasons. On Sunday, the 24-year-old changed that, and emphatically.
Playing at the event where she made her professional debut nine years ago, Thompson eagled the final hole at Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club to win the ShopRite LPGA Classic by one over U.S. Women’s Open champion Jeongeun Lee6.
“You know, I’ve definitely been through a lot, but a lot of people have,” Thompson said. “I’ve been through a lot on and off the golf course, and I think, like I said earlier, the fans have truly helped me out a lot. Not only them but my family and my support team that I have around me, they’ve helped me so much just to get me through everything. Really what my mom has gone through, seeing just her attitude in life has really opened up my eyes for things that I’ve been through. It’s not that bad.”
Thompson, fresh off a T-2 to Lee6 in Charleston last weekend, was down two shots with three to play. She birdied the 16th and added a par at the 17th, and a piped drive left just 190 yards at the last. Using a pitching wedge, Thompson let the ball roll some 50 yards to the green, leaving a 20-footer. Thompson converted for a four-under 67 in windy conditions. A score, coupled with Lee6’s missed eagle attempt at the 18th, that was enough for the W.
It is Thompson’s 11th career victory on the LPGA, and first since the 2018. With three top-five finishes in her last five starts, there’s a newfound conviction, and comfort, in Thompson’s game. Sentiments that could incite a second-half run for the American star.
“Obviously we’re all human,” Thompson said. “We have emotions. We feel sad, depressed and everything with going through those things, but you have to be strong enough to get through things, and I think that’s the most important thing to have the support team around you, the family, the friends, just to keep on picking you up and be there for you, and I think that’s what helped me out the most.”
Day hires Tiger’s old caddie for U.S. Open
If you’re going to make a caddie switch at the U.S. Open, might as well hire the man who carried the greatest performance Pebble Beach—and golf—has ever seen.
Sources have confirmed to Golf Digest’s Brian Walker that Jason Day is putting Steve Williams on the bag for this week’s tournament in Monterey Peninsula. The news was first reported by Golf Channel.
Williams was famously paired with Tiger Woods for 13 years. With Williams by his side, Woods won 13 of his 15 majors, including his 15-stroke U.S. Open victory at Pebble in 2000. Following his dismal from Woods in 2011, Williams—who had previous worked with Greg Norman and Raymond Floyd—joined Adam Scott before retiring from caddying full-time in 2017.
It is not known if the switch is just for the week; since hanging it up full-time, Williams has done one-offs with several players, including the LPGA’s Danielle Kang.
Day had been using friend Luke Reardon as his loop for the past two years. The former No. 1 in the world has five career top 10s at the U.S. Open, although has missed the cut at the last two.
Masters champ out for year
Charl Schwartzel announced on Sunday that he’ll be sidelined for the foreseeable future. A future that likely includes the Presidents Cup.
The Masters champ said he’ll miss the rest of 2019 due to a wrist injury. The ailment kept Schwartzel from playing in the PGA Championship and U.S. Open sectional qualifying.
“I’ve been forced, due to my wrist injury to take the remainder of the season off to give my wrist time to rest and heal,” Schwartzel said in a statement on Twitter. “It’s very frustrating but with a long career still ahead of me, I will get this fixed and I look forward to the come back.”
This campaign has been one of the worst in the 34-year-old’s career. He’s missed the weekend in eight of 13 starts, hasn’t made a cut since the alternate event Corales Punta Cana and ranks 173rd on the FedEx Cup standings. As high as No. 16 in the world two years ago, Schwartzel is now outside the top 125.
Schwartzel’s announcement also dampers the outlook of playing at Royal Melbourne in December’s Presidents Cup. Though his season already made him a long-shot to make fellow South African Ernie Els’ team, Schwartzel had played in the previous four events for the International squad.