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For the first time in the history of Par Talk, we can actually discuss a Rory McIlroy win. It wasn’t just any old win, either, McIlroy played spoiler to local Scotsman Robert MacIntyre by making birdie on his final two holes and hitting what may be the greatest approach shot of his entire career.
MacIntyre hit an all-world shot into the 72nd green as well on Sunday, so naturally, we have to pick which of the two was more impressive than the other.
One thing that was not impressive over the weekend was CBS’ coverage of the Scottish Open. Not only were most golf fans unable, or unaware, that they could watch the tournament live, but their decision during McIlroy’s winning putt was maddening.
All attention stays across the pond this week as the year’s final major is upon us as The Open heads to Hoylake. We’ve got some brief early thoughts to share before getting into the nitty gritty throughout the week.
Rory McIlroy Turns Full-On Assasin To Win Scottish Open
On paper, the job was simple for Rory McIlroy with two holes left to play during Sunday’s final round of the Scottish Open: birdie the final two holes, and win.
In reality, that job seemed impossible seeing as how no other player in the field on Sunday went birdie- birdie to finish, but as we all know, Rory McIlroy is different.
Robert MacIntyre making birdie on the 72nd hole felt like a door slamming on McIlroy’s chances and we were in store for yet another close, but not close enough situation for the 34-year-old.
McIlroy slung that door open with vengeance on the Par 3 17th after knocking his tee shot to within 10 feet and draining the putt to join MacIntrye at 14-under. Unfortunately for McIlroy, the Par 4 18th was playing directly into gale-force, hurricane-like winds.
He didn’t fancy playing any extra holes with MacIntrye, however, and made an impossible-looking hole look way, way too easy with a birdie on the last to win by a shot.
McIlroy is now a 24-time winner on the PGA Tour and cemented himself as the betting favorite to hoist the Claret Jug this week at Royal Liverpool.
Also, we can’t get out of here without recognizing Claire Rogers’ poetic tweet after McIlroy’s win.
It’s me, high, I’m the Twitter man in their 30s.
Robert MacIntrye’s Approach Shot Into 18 vs. Rory McIlroy’s
Outside of some nasty weather pushing up the broadcast times in the U.S. into brutally early hours, the Scottish Open was absolutely fantastic and provided lightning striking twice on the same exact hole on Sunday.
As for which approach shot into the 72nd green on Sunday, you can certainly make arguments for each.
After MacIntyre pulled his tee shot into the thick stuff, he was left with 213 yards to the flag. Knowing full well that he had McIlroy chasing him a few holes back, playing it safe and playing for par wasn’t going to cut it.
With the wind howling in his face, he pulled a wood out of the bag, somehow made perfect contact with the golf ball, and pulled off what most would say was the shot of the year if he had gone on to win the tournament.
In the moment it felt like that was going to be enough for MacIntrye to win the tournament; it was going to be a storybook ending for the Scotsman to win his country’s open.
Unfortunately for him, McIlroy decided to put an old driving iron into his bag this week and it came in rather clutch for his own ridiculous approach shot into the 18th.
While McIlroy was in the fairway, hitting a 202-yard approach shot dead into the fan having to make birdie to win the tournament is a rather large ask.
Well, he and his 2-iron answered the call. The shot tracer alone will give you goosebumps.
While both shots were, in my opinion, the two best shots of the entire PGA Tour season, I think you have to give the nod to McIlroy here.
Taking dead-aim at that flag with 25+ mph winds in your face knowing that the slightest miss-hit could result in a missed green and potential bogey shows the absolute stones the man has. It also shows the confidence he has in his game at the moment, which is a scary sight for the rest of the world.
CBS Did The Golf World Dirty In Scotland
For as world-class as the golf shots were down the stretch, CBS’ coverage was far from stellar.
First and foremost, folks with cable couldn’t simply turn on the TV in most markets and catch any of the action. With tee times being moved up on Saturday and Sunday, the live coverage that was supposed to air on CBS wasn’t actually available.
The only way to watch the action live was to log onto the CBS Sports app and stream it. Thankfully it was free, but still a pain for plenty of golf fans who don’t consume TV that way. The PGA Tour app telling fans it was being shown live on CBS for golf fans only to tune in to see random programming or their local morning news was less than ideal.
Then we have the camera angle used to show McIlroy’s winning putt on the final hole.
This is the best we can do, CBS? A shot of McIlroy’s back where unless you have 20/20 vision you can’t even see the actual hole?
I get it. Logistically, maybe it was impossible to get an angle from behind the hole here, but we live in the year 2023 where we have drones taking live shots of sports. The fact that this was the camera angle someone at CBS said ‘yep, that’s the one’ to watch McIlroy win a golf tournament is astounding.
One Early, Odd Feel For A Pick To Win The Open At Hoylake
It’s a great week, but also a terrible week.
It’s great that we’ve reached The Open, the second-best major only behind the Masters, but sad given we’re about to have to go nine months without a major championship.
We’ll have plenty of preview and betting content throughout the week heading into The Open, but the end-all-be-all about Royal Liverpool seems to be driving the golf ball. If you can’t hit a fairway this week, you have no chance of winning based on everything the data folks are saying.
This eliminates a huge number of the field, as most majors already do anyways, but one player that immediately jumped out to me was Patrick Cantlay.
While he’s coming off of a missed cut at the Scottish Open, Cantlay has flown under the radar this year due to the fact that he hasn’t actually won anything. His eight Top 10s this season, including a T-9 at the PGA Championship, speak for themselves, as do his driving statistics.
Cantlay ranks fourth in strokes gained: off the tee, 10th in driving accuracy, and first in total driving. That’ll play everywhere, and I think it plays really well at Hoylake this week. That’s not an official pick, but I may make it mine sooner rather than later.
Follow Mark Harris on Twitter @ItIsMarkHarris