CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eleven years later, Rory McIlroy cringes at the photo: the yellow sweater with the deep V-neck, the chubby cheeks and the messy mop that curled under his cap. “You live and you learn,” he said Wednesday, offering a wry smile. The last time McIlroy played at a Carnoustie Open, in 2007, he earned the Silver Medal as the low amateur. He tied for 42nd, but the final result had mattered little. Grateful just to have a spot in the field, courtesy of his European Amateur title, he bounced along the fairways, soaking up every moment, and lingered behind the 18th green as one of his local heroes, Padraig Harrington, battled one of his favorite players, Sergio Garcia. Waiting for the trophy presentation, he passed the time playing with Padraig’s young son, Paddy. On Wednesday, McIlroy spotted Paddy, now 15, walking around Carnoustie with his three-time-major-winning father. “He’s massive now – he towers over me,” he said. “It’s so funny thinking back on that day.” But it’s also instructive. If there’s a lesson to be learned from ’07, it’s how carefree McIlroy approached and played that week. He was reminded again of that untroubled attitude while playing a practice round here with 23-year-old Jon Rahm, who stepped onto each tee, unsheathed his driver and bombed away with little regard for the wind or the bounce or the fescue. McIlroy smiled, because he remembers a time, not too long ago, that he’d attack a course with similar reckless abandon. Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship “I just think, as you get older, you get a little more cautious in life,” said McIlroy, 29. “I think it’s only natural. There’s something nice about being young and being oblivious to some stuff. The more I can get into that mindset, the better I’ll play golf.” And so on the eve of this Open, as he approaches the four-year anniversary of his last major title, McIlroy finds himself searching for a way to channel that happy-go-lucky 18-year-old who was about to take the world by storm, to tap into the easygoing excellence that once defined his dominance. It’s been a year since he first hinted at what he’s been missing. Last year’s Open at Royal Birkdale was the final event of his long run with caddie J.P. Fitzgerald. The chief reason for the split, he said, had nothing to do with some of the questionable on-course decisions, but rather a desire to take ownership of him game, to be freed up alongside one of his best friends, Harry Diamond. That partnership has produced only one victory so far, and over the past few months, McIlroy has at times looked unsettled between the ropes. It’s difficult to compute, how someone with seemingly so much – a résumé with four majors, a robust bank account, a beautiful wife – can also appear disinterested and unmotivated. “I think sometimes I need to get back to that attitude where I play carefree and just happy to be here,” he said. “A golf tournament is where I feel the most comfortable. It’s where I feel like I can 100 percent be myself and express myself. Sometimes the pressure that’s put on the top guys to perform at such a level every week, it starts to weigh on you a little bit. The more I can be like that kid, the better.” It’s a decidedly different landscape from when the erstwhile Boy Wonder last won a major, in summer 2014. Jordan Spieth had won just a single Tour event, not three majors. Dustin Johnson wasn’t world No. 1 but merely a tantalizing tease, a long-hitting, fast-living physical freak who was just beginning a six-month break to address “personal challenges.” Two-time U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka hadn’t even started playing in the States. McIlroy’s greatest asset, both then and now, was his driving – he put on clinics at Congressional and Kiawah, Hoylake and Valhalla. He was a mainstay at or near the top of the strokes gained: tee to green rankings, but over the past few years, because of better technology, fitness and coaching, the gap between him and the rest of the field has shrunk. “I think at this stage players have caught up,” Harrington said. “There’s many players who drive the ball comparable and have certainly eaten into that advantage. Rory is well on pace to get into double digits with majors, but it has got harder. There’s no doubt there’s more players out there who are capable of having a big week and a big game for a major. It makes it tough.” It’s not as though McIlroy hasn’t had opportunities to add to his major haul; they’ve just been less frequent and against stronger competition. In the 13 majors since he last won, he’s either finished in the top 10 or missed the cut in 11 of them. This year, he played in the final group at the Masters, and was on the verge of completing the career Grand Slam, before a soul-crushing 74 on the last day. His U.S. Open bid was over after nine holes, after an opening 80 and a missed cut during which he declined to speak to reporters after both frustrating rounds. “I’m trying,” he said Wednesday. “I’m trying my best every time I tee it up, and it just hasn’t happened.” A year after saying that majors are the only events that will define the rest of his career, he recently shrugged off the doom and gloom surrounding his Grand Slam drought: “It doesn’t keep me up at night, thinking, If I never won another major, I can’t live with myself.” Eleven years ago, McIlroy never would have troubled himself with such trivial questions about his legacy. But perhaps a return to Carnoustie, to where his major career started, is just what he needs to unlock his greatness once again.
But the stars soon twist the message: Voting is a civic duty and the only way to effect change. “I mean, seriously, … after this whole video — if you’re not gonna vote, I don’t even know what to say. … You know you have to vote,” says DiCaprio, who produced the PSA. Also appearing: Ellen DeGeneres, Forest Whitaker, Dustin Hoffman, Demi Moore, Sarah Silverman, Jonah Hill, Ashton Kutcher, Courteney Cox, Laura Linney, Natalie Portman, Jamie Foxx, Usher, Kyra Sedgwick and will.i.am. (www.declareyourself.com) AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMore AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to FacebookFacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterTwitterShare to EmailEmailEmailShare to RedditRedditRedditShare to MoreAddThisMoreDon’t vote? A new public service announcement uses big-time celebrities and reverse psychology to urge citizens to vote. Leonardo DiCaprio, Halle Berry, Jennifer Aniston, Tobey Maguire, Eva Longoria Parker and other stars “just say no” to young people to get them into voting booths on election day. In a new public service announcement that hit YouTube and other online outlets Wednesday, DiCaprio says: “Please — just don’t vote.” Others echo his plea: “Don’t vote.”
Matt Loede CLEVELAND – The Indians will look to complete a three-game sweep this afternoon as they host the Los Angeles Angels at Progressive Field. The Tribe has scored seven runs in each of the first two games of the series, winning 7-3 on Friday night, and 7-2 on Saturday night.Sunday afternoon the team will go with All-Star game MVP Shane Bieber, who comes into action today with a mark of 10-4 and an ERA of 3.40.Bieber threw well in his last outing, but made just a couple mistakes the cost him and the team as Justin Verlander shut down the Indians in a 2-0 Astros win Monday night.Things should be a bit better on Sunday against the Angels, who enter play with a mark of 56-56. How good have the Tribe been against the Angels here at Progressive Field? How about 14-1 in their last 15 home games against Los Angeles.The Angels will throw out right-hander Jaime Barria (4-4, 6.28 ERA), who allowed three runs (two earned) on four hits in five innings of a 7-2 setback versus Detroit on Monday.Here’s the Indians lineup:SS Francisco LindorCF Oscar Mercado1B Carlos SantanaRF Yasiel Puig3B Jose RamirezDH Franmil Reyes2B Jason KipnisC Roberto PerezLF Jordan LuplowHere’s the lineup for Los Angeles:Today’s Angels starting lineup. Brian Goodwin will lead off. First pitch at 10:10am PT. #TheHaloWay pic.twitter.com/neDYrTySoz— Los Angeles Angels (@Angels) August 4, 2019 Matt Loede has been a part of the Cleveland Sports Media for over 21 years, with experience covering Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association, the National Football League and even high school and college events. He has been a part of the Cleveland Indians coverage since the opening of Jacobs/Progressive Field in 1994, and spent two and a half years covering the team for 92.3 The Fan, and covers them daily for Associated Press Radio. You can follow Matt on Twitter HERE. Related TopicsAngelsIndiansShane Bieber