Notes: Ring on Garcia's mind? McIlroy's mornings
Any discussion of the 2012 Ryder Cup and Europe’s dramatic rally must start with questions about Rory McIlroy nearly missing his tee time for the singles match against Keegan Bradley.
A reporter offered surprise that Europe didn’t travel to the course that day as a team, rather than going individually as they did, but Graeme McDowell shook his head. “We are treated like professionals,” he said. “We can get ourselves to the golf course.”
McDowell said his locker was near McIlroy’s and “I noticed Rory was missing,” but then he laughed.
“He’s a little loose with his warmups. He’s one of these guys who is pretty limber. (But) a Rolls-Royce doesn’t need much warming up.”
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HAPPY DAYS: It’s not quite as flush as those days in 2011 when the top four in the Official World Golf Ranking were Europeans (Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer and Rory McIlroy), but surely it’s a time of pride for those across the pond.
PHOTOS: Valhalla hole-by-hole, 2014 PGA Championship
The Jack Nicklaus-designed Valhalla Golf Club, par 71 and 7,458 yards, earns a whopping 77.6 rating and a slope of 152 from the club's back tees -- and if this week's PGA Championship tees were measured, both the rating and slope would be higher. See all 18 holes here!
Presently, four of the top five (McIlroy, Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose) are European. “And,” said a European Tour loyalist with a smile, “Australia is still a colony.”
It was a reference to No. 2, Aussie Adam Scott.
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BACK IN PLAY: Richard Sterne will tee it up in the 96th PGA Championship, a week after playing four rounds at the Bridgestone Invitational. That will make it five tournaments since early June, having been sidelined for three months following surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left hip, so the 33-year-old South African will call a timeout to assess his status.
“I’ll take two, three weeks off and just relax," Sterne said. "I’m still not 100 percent.”
The six-time European Tour winner is ranked 71st in the world. He doesn’t have second thoughts about his decision to have surgery in March (“I was in a lot of pain,” he said), but concedes the comeback has been tougher than he expected. Having been unable to practice much, Sterne jumped right into competition, first with the French Open, then the Scottish Open and the Open Championship.
In four starts, he’s played 72 holes twice.
“I’ve been struggling. The game hasn’t been very good,” Sterne said.
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DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH: It's bad enough that he lost four strokes to Rory McIlroy over the first three holes in Sunday’s final round of the Bridgestone Invitational. Discovering that his errant drive at the third hole might have caused a fan some personal heartache only added to his woes.
“You never like to hit anybody,” Garcia said, “but if you hit someone and make her lose her diamond ring, it feels even worse.”
Garcia’s ball struck the woman in her left hand and knocked the diamond into the grass. “They were looking and trying to find it,” Garcia said.
Given his current situation (Garcia and girlfriend Katharina Boehm are in a serious relationship, and wedding bells might be near), the Spaniard didn’t just brush off the incident. He asked a marshal to get the woman’s information so he could be in touch with her, but before that task could be carried out, they found the diamond ring.
A sigh of relief all around. But, hey, was Garcia thinking about buying the woman another diamond ring?
“It probably would have gone to that, yes, if they had not found the diamond. I was prepared to buy her one,” Garcia said. Then he paused and added: “I don’t know how Kathy would have felt about that. But other than that, it was OK.”