Tuesday September 02, 2014




Has tennis girlfriend sidetracked Rory?

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It’s not a shock to say Rory McIlroy has a lot in common with Tiger Woods.

But some of those similarities aren’t the kind McIlroy’s fans want to see.

They like the part about being No. 1 in the world. They like the title of “defending U.S. Open champ.” They like the millions of dollars he makes on and off the golf course. They like the fact he’s likely the most popular golfer in the world, as Tiger once was.

What similarity to Woods that McIlroy fans aren’t too keen about is the one about his career being sidetracked by women.

The jury is still out on that one, but . . .

Woods’s fall from grace has been well chronicled — his dalliances with dozens of women cost him his wife, his reputation and, coincidentally or not, his golf game for a couple of years. McIlroy, as far as we know, is a one-woman man, but his romantic relationship with tennis star Caroline Wozniacki is the reason, some say, that the Northern Ireland superstar is falling into  pro golf’s ‘ordinary’ atmosphere. Golf’s ‘superstar’ pedestal, once the domain of Woods, is currently unoccupied.

When he was 22, McIlroy led the 2011 Masters through three rounds before imploding on the back nine Sunday and finishing 15th. But he rebounded beautifully, winning his next major, the U.S. Open, by a remarkable eight strokes. McIlroy’s life was perfect — and he had the gorgeous No. 1-ranked Wozniacki on his arm as he ascended to the No. 1 spot in the world ranking. He was a rock star.

Would Tiger catch Nicklaus with 18 majors? To heck with that hypothesis . . . would Rory win 20?

Lately, though, McIlroy has faltered badly. He missed the cut at the Players Championship in May — and then immediately jetted to Rome to watch his girlfriend play in a tournament. He missed the cut later that month at the BMW Championship in England — and then zipped over to Paris to see Caroline. He missed the cut at the Memorial, one of two U.S. Open tuneups he put on his schedule.

Maybe it’s Caroline’s fault; maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s just because McIlroy is 23 and is enjoying the rock-star life for the first time. Maybe marriage and maturity will eventually reign and McIlroy will eventually wear the superstar tag.

Some answers may be forthcoming this week at the U.S. Open in San Francisco. He’ll be taking on 155 other golfers in the field, not to mention millions of critics.

• Comedy writer Jerry Perisho: “The NFL says it will continue to play and broadcast its Pro Bowl game from Hawaii.  The highlight last year occurred in the middle of the second quarter when two players nearly collided.”

• Perisho again: “Former NFL receiver Terrell Owens was cut by the Allen Wranglers of the Indoor Football League. T.O. didn’t like the fact the Wranglers played in blue jeans.”

• Comedy writer Jim Barach: “New York Knick Jeremy Lin has been ruled the owner of the trademark for ‘Linsanity’. To which New Yorkers are now asking “who?”

• Barach again: “Organizers say that a pint of beer at Olympic events in London will cost $11. To which Yankee fans are asking ‘What’s the catch?’ “

• Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “Golfer and San Diego native Phil Mickelson has joined a group hoping to buy the Padres. Pundits like his chances of someday winning the World Series, as long as it’s not against the Tigers.”

• NBC’s Jimmy Fallon, after Snoop Dogg threw out the ceremonial first pitch at a White Sox game: “And as predicted, the pitch was pretty high.”

• Comedy writer Alan Ray, on the new Saints feature in the Madden 2013 video game: “When you score, you spike a quarterback in the end zone.”

• Brad Dickson of the Omaha (Neb.) World-Herald: “Packers receiver Donald Driver said winning ‘Dancing with the Stars’ was about the same as winning a Super Bowl. What? To win the Super Bowl, you have to get past Ray Lewis. To take ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ Driver had to defeat the guy who played Urkel.”

• Perry again: “The Roger Clemens perjury trial is entering its fifth week, for those of you snoring at home.”

• Headline at TheOnion.com: “Phoenix Coyotes pretend homeless drifters at Greyhound bus station are fans welcoming team home.”

• Cam Hutchinson of the Saskatoon Express: “A veterinarian told CBS he’s spotted golf balls, fish hooks, needles and toys when X-raying a dog’s stomach. They’ve pretty much seen it all . . . well, except homework.”

• Janice Hough of leftcoastsportsbabe.com: “Matt Kemp’s back on the DL, along with Troy Tulowitzki, Jered Weaver, Roy Halladay, Pablo Sandoval, etc. etc. Will this year’s MLB All Star Game be sponsored by Blue Shield?

• Hough again: “Despite the SF Giants-LA Dodgers rivalry, most San Jose residents don’t seem too upset about the Kings being in the Stanley Cup final. In fact, when asked how they feel about Los Angeles winning the NHL championship, the most common response from Northern Californians was “Los Angeles has a hockey team?”


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