Rory McIlroy has won four major championships, but the last one came back in 2014, when he captured the PGA Championship a month after winning the British Open.
Since then, McIlroy has posted 10 top-10 finishes in majors, but no wins.
“If anything, if you’ve looked at my major championship performances over the last few years, I’ve just gotten off to slow starts,” McIlroy said Tuesday in advance of this week’s U.S. Open at Winged Foot. “I probably just put a little too much pressure on myself going into tournaments. And from there, shooting a bad score on the first day and putting yourself under even more pressure from there to just make it to the weekend, and then to try to play catch-up. I think that’s been the big thing.
“When I start tournaments well, I seem to stay up there. I started Pebble last year [at the U.S. Open] with a nice score and stayed up there for the most part. I didn’t quite finish the week the way I wanted to. But that’s been the big thing for me. If I can start and put a good solid round together on a Thursday, I’m usually right there.”
McIlroy, just a couple weeks removed from the birth of his first child, a daughter named Poppy, joked, “I actually changed the first two diapers, so I’m very proud of that. But yeah, I’ve got my hands dirty; put it that way.”
He said fatherhood has calmed him.
“I think it just puts things in perspective a little bit,” he said. “It makes the hard days a little easier to get over. And I’m not saying that I want to have hard days to get over, but yeah, you’re a little more relaxed. When I say it’s not the be-all and end-all, it’s a major championship and I’ve grown up my whole life dreaming of winning these tournaments, and that’s not going to change. But if it doesn’t quite happen, I can live with that and go home and be very happy and leave what’s happened at the golf course at the golf course.”
Justin Thomas, the No. 3-ranked player in the world, has his regular caddie, Jimmy Johnson, back on his bag this week. Johnson appeared to be overcome with heat exhaustion at the Memorial and had to stop caddying. Thomas, in recent weeks, has had Jim “Bones” Mackay caddy for him.
“It’s great to have [Johnson] back,” Thomas said. “It seems like it was so long ago and it seems like it was such a short time ago that he was caddying last. He’s been ready to go for a little bit, but I just think getting a couple extra weeks’ rest and to get ready to go for this week was good for him.”
Yankees giving Clarke Schmidt audition for MLB playoffs start
Clarke Schmidt is being lined up to start the Yankees’ season finale and that could be an audition for him being part of the postseason roster if the Yanks advance beyond the first round.
Schmidt would start Sunday against the Marlins. If that goes well, the Yankees would think about adding him to the roster for the Division Series if they are able to win the best-of-three wild-card round.
The best-of-five Division Series and the best-of-seven League Championship Series are both scheduled to have no off days. So there might be a need to use not only five starters, but also more than just the best two or three relievers. Depth and pitchers who could pitch multiple innings will be necessary. The Yanks have Luis Cessa and Jonathan Loaisiga right now for bulk relief innings, but Schmidt could provide another option.
Schmidt has appeared in just two games this year, both in relief, and had a 7.71 ERA. But relief is foreign to him, and the 24-year-old righty now will receive an opportunity to start a game. Schmidt, the 16th overall pick in 2017, had just three starts above Single-A heading into this season. In a standard year, the hope was to get him perhaps a half a season of starts and then see if he was ready to jump to the majors.
Instead, COVID-19 scuttled such plans. Still, there remains a chance for Schmidt to get his first major league start — and perhaps earn more for October.
US Olympian Chloe Dygert crashes over guardrail in cycling accident
Chloe Dygert’s individual time trial at the cycling world championships went horribly wrong.
The 10-time world champion and 2016 Olympic silver medalist was in pole position for another title with less than half of her run in Imola, Italy remaining. But as Dygert rounded a turn, she lost control of her bike and hit a barricade, tumbling over into the grass at full speed.
Video of the incident shows at least some of the course’s barricades were covered with pads, but the padding ended before the spot of Dygert’s collision. She was conscious after the crash and was placed on a stretcher, eventually being taken to an ambulance with a badly bloodied knee.
Dygert’s crash allowed Dutch cyclist Anna van der Breggen to win her first world title in the individual time trial. It was Dygert’s first race since Feburary.
What Sandy Alderson’s return means for the Mets’ front office
WASHINGTON — If Steve Cohen is approved as the Mets’ new owner in the coming weeks, a familiar face will oversee the team’s daily operations for him.
Cohen announced Thursday his plan to install Sandy Alderson as the team president should the hedge-fund billionaire receive the 23 votes needed from MLB owners to complete his $2.475 billion purchase of the club.
Here is a primer on Alderson’s prospective return to the organization for which he served as the general manager from October 2010 to June 2018.
A: He spent the last two seasons in Oakland as an advisor to Billy Beane, but the 72-year-old Alderson still thirsted for a bigger challenge, according to a confidant.
“Sandy isn’t looking to retire,” the confidant said. “You’re not talking about somebody content reading books and going for long walks.”
Alderson has battled cancer in recent years. His first diagnosis occurred during the Mets’ run to the World Series in 2015. After undergoing surgery the following year he was declared cancer-free, but in 2018 stepped aside as GM, citing a return of the disease. The following winter he indicated he was cancer-free.
As team president, Alderson would oversee all facets of the organization, not just baseball. It’s a position he held with the Padres from 2005-09 before leaving for a return to the commissioner’s office. The Mets hired him as general manager following Omar Minaya’s dismissal in 2010.
Q: What does this mean for the current front office?
A: Alderson and Brodie Van Wagenen have a professional relationship from negotiating – the latter was a CAA agent whose clients included Yoenis Cespedes – but the two have never served on the same side together. In his introductory press conference as Mets general manager, Van Wagenen was extremely respectful of Alderson, citing his long success in the game. Alderson’s only real public comment pertaining to Van Wagenen came at the New York Baseball Writers’ dinner in 2019 when he joked about the new GM basking in the media spotlight.
“I’ve always had great respect for Sandy,” Van Wagenen said Thursday. “As I have said before, I look forward to having more conversations with the incoming ownership group as the process unfolds.”
Whether Van Wagenen (who has two years remaining on his contract) returns might depend on whether Alderson views his role in nature as bumper lanes for the front office or as the primary decision maker. Van Wagenen could conceivably return, but in a diminished role in which all big decisions have to run through Alderson. That said, it might just be easier for Alderson to hire somebody with whom he is already comfortable or believes he can mold.
Van Wagenen’s key lieutenants include Adam Guttridge, Allard Baird and Minaya. Under Guttridge the team’s analytical approach has evolved, with Baird and Minaya serving as experienced sounding boards.
Q: If Alderson decides he wants a new general manager, who would be potential candidates?
A: Paul DePodesta worked under Alderson with the Padres before joining him with the Mets with a focus on rebuilding the farm system. Under DePodesta’s watch, the Mets drafted Brandon Nimmo, Dominic Smith, Michael Conforto and Michael Fulmer, among others. Before the 2016 season, DePodesta surprisingly left the organization to become chief strategy officer for the Cleveland Browns. It’s unclear whether DePodesta has aspirations for returning to baseball in a GM capacity – he held the job with the Dodgers before joining Alderson in San Diego.
Breaking from his past, Alderson could look toward names such as Josh Byrnes (he was a candidate for the job when Alderson was hired in 2010) and Mike Chernoff, who interviewed for the position when Van Wagenen was hired.
Q: Will Alderson reunite his band of lieutenants from his previous regime?
A: Giants advisor J.P. Ricciardi (who is still getting paid by the Mets through the end of this season) worked with Alderson in Oakland and New York and still maintains a close relationship with him, according to sources. John Ricco, who moved from baseball operations to overseeing special projects for the Mets – including the revamping of the team’s spring training complex – is highly respected by Alderson and could return to a prominent front office position. Minaya was brought back by the Wilpons following the 2016 season in an advisory capacity and could be retained given his tight previous relationship with Cohen and familiarity working under Alderson.
Q: Based on what we know about Alderson’s philosophy, how will he shape the offseason plan?
A: Alderson as Mets GM gave nine-figure contracts to David Wright and Cespedes, but mostly avoided huge expenditures. Still, with a new deep-pocketed boss the Mets could be bigger players in free agency than at any point in their history. Alderson’s job will be to ensure that money is spent wisely.
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