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Marla Ridenour on Sports

Rory McIlroy loves Firestone and other Memorial Tournament nuggets

By Marla Published: June 3, 2011

Rory McIlroy, the 22-year-old sensation from Northern Ireland, listed his favorite courses (presumably in the United States) after he fired a 6-under par 66 to share the first round lead in the Memorial Tournament Thursday.

On Friday, McIlroy stood 7-under through No. 12, in sole possession of the lead.

Asked why he felt Muirfield Village set up well for him, McIlroy said, "This is one of my favorite weeks of the year, one of my favorite golf courses. I like these sort of golf courses, the likes of here and Akron and Quail Hollow, tree-lined, and I sort of feel as if I'm pretty comfortable on courses like that.
Yeah, I feel comfortable, and I'm swinging well, I'm hitting it good, and I'm holing a few putts, so hopefully I can keep it going for the next three days.''

McIlroy said he didn't grow up on a tree-lined course in Holywood, Northern Ireland.

"I prefer this sort of golf where you've got to fly it in the air,'' he said. "When there's no wind and the conditions are as good as they are and the greens are this good, you're going to give yourself plenty of opportunities.''

  • Keegan Bradley, the 24-year-old nephew of LPGA Hall of Famer Pat Bradley, earned his first trip to Firestone Country Club for the Aug. 4-7 Bridgestone Invitational with his first Tour victory last weekend in the Byron Nelson Invitational. Bradley was thrilled with that news. "Seems like every day, every hour, I get told of something, some perk that I get from winning that's just even better than the next one.''

  • The best perk was an entry into next year's Masters. "I'll be sitting around by myself in my hotel room, and I'll just think about the fact that I get to play in the Masters, and I'll just start laughing, smiling. It seems like somebody is going to tell me that it didn't really happen. Because Augusta to me is ... and my dad has been obsessed with Augusta my whole life. It's just amazing. I can't even put into words. As soon as I can go, I'm going to go, believe me."

  • Fred Couples knows plenty about playing the PGA Tour with an injury after battling back problems much of his career. He worries about Tiger Woods' left knee, which has undergone four surgeries, and how it will affect Woods' future. Couples said he texts Woods frequently. "He's had so many knee problems. I couldn't imagine not being able to use my left knee to play golf,'' Couples said. "I think it's basically impossible to do what you used to do. When you're No. 1 and then you start to slide and your mind keeps telling you, 'I remember a year ago I could do this and then two years ago I did that,' that's the toughest thing you go through. There's no other guy who can pick you up but yourself.''

  • Couples isn't sure he buys the theory that Woods' violent swing could keep him from breaking Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 professional majors. Woods has 14. "I don't think he swings violent at it. I don't think he does anything different than Charl Schwartzel when they swing, I just think his knee is a little tender and he's got to get it right so he can come out and start to play every day feeling good,'' Couples said. "There's been tournaments ... I'll go play two really good rounds and I'll wake up Saturday and my back is killing me, I kind of slowly fall back, and that's not fun for anyone, let alone a guy who's been No. 1 for 10 straight years or longer. That's not much fun.''



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