Masters flop haunts McIlroy

Norman offers Irishman advice: Pay no attention

May 05, 2011|By Jeff Shain, Tribune newspapers

Rory McIlroy is back this week at the scene of his greatest career triumph — still unable to escape questions about his biggest disappointment.

"I've taken my own views from what happened a few weeks ago and moved on," said McIlroy, defending champion at this week's Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, N.C. "I displayed a few weaknesses in my game that I need to work on."

A year ago, McIlroy was the toast of the golf realm. One day shy of his 21st birthday, he had just blitzed the Quail Hollow field with a final-day 62 that was capped by six consecutive 3s.

But memories are short, and the prominent one now is of his detour near the Augusta National cabins as he squandered what began Masters Sunday as a four-shot lead.

Who does one commiserate with after such a meltdown? It turns out one of the best nuggets of advice came from a man with a trunk full of major disappointments — Greg Norman.

The advice? Pay no attention to public opinion.

"Don't read golf magazines, don't pick up papers, don't watch the Golf Channel. But it's hard not to," McIlroy said. "Obviously you want to keep up to date with what's going on. But you can't let other people sort of influence what you're thinking and what you should do."

Golfmetrics: The PGA Tour is changing one of its measures of putting success, scrapping the "putts per round" category for a stat called "strokes gained — putting."

The stat, developed by a Columbia Business School professor and enhanced by MIT researchers, measures a player's success from the distances he faces in a round and compares them to field averages.

In case you're wondering, Nick Watney tops the new list at 1.215 putting strokes better than the tour average. Brandt Snedeker is next at 1.132.

Tap-ins: Maria Hjorth is leaving some of last week's LPGA winnings in Alabama, donating $20,000 from her Avnet Classic winner's check of $195,000 to the American Red Cross to help families devastated by tornadoes that killed more than 200 Alabamans. … Oddity: Bubba Watson's three wins in the last 10 months all have been sponsored by insurance companies — Travelers, Farmers, Zurich. He can complete an "Insurance Slam" by winning the Memorial, sponsored by Nationwide.

— Jeff Shain

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