Golfer Kyle Stanley isn’t being criticized for what he said — but for what he didn’t.
The controversy concerns something that happened during the second round of the British Open.
First, Stanley accidentally struck a course marshal on the shin with an errant shot on No. 14. Then, on No. 17, Stanley hit a shot that sailed toward some spectators, and he only watched as it did. It’s customary to yell “fore” if someone could possibly be struck by a shot.
This particular shot one-hopped and struck a woman on the hand. That woman happened to be the mother of Scotsman Robert MacIntyre’s caddie. MacIntyre, playing in a group with Stanley, was not pleased.
“Playing partner doesn’t shout ‘fore,’ the ball is going in the crowd,” MacIntyre said. “We’re shouting ‘fore,’ the ball is coming down. We’re shouting it as it’s coming into the crowd and he’s just standing there watching it. People don’t have enough time to react after we shout. It hits Greg [Milne], my caddie’s, mom. And so I told them how it was.”
MacIntyre, in turn, lit into Stanley on the course.
“It wasn’t too pleasant,” MacIntyre said. “But you’ve got to tell them.”
That happened Friday, and on Saturday, Stanley took issue with MacIntyre’s description of what happened.
“You had a hard wind off the left,” said the two-time PGA Tour winner from Gig Harbor, Wash. “After I hit, several people on the tee box yelled ‘fore.’ My two playing partners, my caddie, a couple of the volunteers or the marshals, even had them signaling it was going right. I mean, everyone to the right of that ball knew it was coming.
“So, to me, it’s kind of a nonissue. I’m not really sure why [MacIntyre] decided to make such an issue about it. I know it hit his caddie’s mom’s hands after the bounce, and that’s unfortunate.
“But as far as I’m concerned, a lot of people yelled '`fore.’ He made the argument that since I hit the ball that it maybe should have come out of my mouth first. I guess I can see that.”
Stanley said he typically yells fore himself in those situations.
“It’s unfortunate the way it wound up the way it did,” he said. “It certainly was not my intention to put anyone in harm’s way. I had my wife in the gallery, my coaches. So I’m surprised it’s kind of come to this point.”
Stanley does not sound especially contrite and said he hasn’t apologized.
“I went up there and the first thing that I asked everybody was if I hit anybody,” he said. “And nobody gave me an indication that I did.“That’s the first thing you do when you hit a ball off line, when you get up there you ask, '`Did it hit anybody? Is everybody okay?’ And that’s what I did. No one told me I hit anybody.”
Had the caddie’s mother said she had been hit, she likely would have gotten something from Stanley.
“You sign a ball,” he said, “sign a glove.”
For love of country
People are still talking about Rory McIlroy and how gracious he was in his disappointment at just missing his chance to play this weekend. The star, who grew up in Northern Ireland was near tears Friday evening when, despite shooting a 65, he missed the 1-under cut by a stroke. Still, he stood in the middle of the 18th green and applauded the fans as they gave him a standing ovation.
“I think anyone that watched Rory finish yesterday, it was exciting,” said countryman Graeme McDowell, who shot a 68 on Saturday. “It was like he was winning the tournament coming down the stretch yesterday. He was wearing his heart on his sleeve and he was laying it all out there coming in. And to watch him break down a little bit kind of felt like legitimized my tears in my eyes Thursday morning a little bit. I was on the first tee on Thursday wondering what the hell was wrong with me. But when I saw Rory last night I understand it means a huge amount to us all.”
McDowell said McIlroy “probably won himself a lot of fans” with his honest emotions, and poise and grace in defeat.
“It’s great in sports when we see emotions because sometimes these guys look like robots out here,” McDowell said. “We’re not robots; we hurt, and we hurt a lot sometimes. It’s a tough sport.”
Gary McNeill was living the dream Saturday. He’s the head pro at Royal Portrush and played the role of marker — sort of like a seat filler at the Oscars — due to an odd number of players making the cut. He played with Paul Waring so that the Englishman wouldn’t have to play the third round alone.
McNeill put his local knowledge of the course to good use on the 17th, reading the undulations of the green to sink a 40-foot putt, the highlight of his round (which wasn’t officially scored).
“It was just great fun,” he said of the experience. “So many people. So many of the members are out there, friends and people that we know. So it was great.”
As for the feeling of walking up No. 18?
“Amazing,” he said. “I’ve sat up in the grandstands and watched players do that. Over the years, I’ve been to a lot of Opens. But to actually experience it was unbelievable. Quite a moment.”