The Masters always gets even with Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy is not out of it at Augusta National, where two flagsticks delivered two very different results emblematic of his tortured history here.

For Rory McIlroy, Augusta National always seems to take as much as it gives. The balance always seems to end up at zero and he can never quite sneak out of here after a week feeling like he got away with one or got the best of it. Even the pins are keeping account and Friday’s round was a tale of two flagsticks.

In the second round, his Masters seemed to take off at the 6th hole. He’d been uneven throughout the start of his round, getting a great look at eagle at the par-5 second and then inexplicably three-jacking the short third hole in some gusty winds that seemed to impact him more with the putter. After an all-world birdie from the pine straw at the 5th, McIlroy came to the 6th at even-par. He hit a solid tee shot that got an unfortunate bounce off the fringe and spun back down one of Augusta’s most significantly sloped greens. He was inches from having a great look at birdie to now having to make a hit-and-hope attempt to get up the steep grade without hammering it too far past the hole on these rapid greens.

Just moments before Rory came through the 6th, Lee Westwood stood in a similar spot, crushed the ball with his putter, and then still watched it roll back down to his feet and past his original mark. Now there was Rory, who looked shaky so far, trying to figure out how to attack this two-tiered green. He pulled a wedge, took a practice swing, thought about it, and then went back to his bag and caddie JP Fitzgerald. McIlroy pulled a different club and sized up his shot.

Given the history here and all the buildup each time he comes through, you tense up on almost every shot with Rory. It seems like the round could go sideways or take off with every swing or stroke. No one else in the field gives you that feeling. This chip shot was as precarious and tense as ever. Then he made the swing and popped a low runner up the slope. It was running hot as it hit the second tier, and then, Augusta gave him one.

McIlroy immediately flexed every muscle in his right arm, outstretching his fist as soon as it went down. For the first time in this Masters, he was in the red and exhaled with relief. He smiled continuously and the tenseness subsided momentarily. A young fan got the ball which he rolled into into the crowd as hot as it was when it hit the stick.

While it may be difficult at Augusta for Rory, it’s not a mess. He gets hot for at least one stretch every year here, and often multiple days. There are just those stretches where it gets a little pukey and that leads to a top 10 instead of a win. This felt like the start of run toward the top of the board — finally in the red with back-to-back birdies and a shorter par-4 and a par-5 ahead of him.

Augusta would take it back, however, waiting until the last moment. Even the flagsticks here don’t forget. At the 18th hole, McIlroy hit what looked like his best approach shot of the day. My colleague next to me, Kevin Van Valkenburg, called it in the air, “He flagged it.” Moments later, a likely birdie became a likely bogey as the ball cracked off the pin and bounded down the front of the green.

It’s the unluckiest break in golf and instantly reminded observers of the cruelty done to Tiger Woods at the 15th just four years ago. Unlike Tiger’s ball there, Rory’s stayed dry but he was obviously fuming, dropkicking his club in frustration. It was a too perfect shot taking advantage of a monster drive and he still got a bogey that dropped him over par for the tournament.

Rory has an unrequited love with Augusta. It’s a course that should suit his strengths and a place where he should collect green jackets, and might could have one or two already. Yet there’s always some stretch where he gives away shots that mitigate all the brilliant stretches that make him the most intoxicating player to watch in the world.

McIlroy has spoken at length about his struggles and close calls here, saying he hates the interminable length and all the build-up between the last major of the year and the Masters. Needing it to complete a career slam, which only five players have ever accomplished, always adds to the overwhelming pressure each trip around Augusta. In an interview last winter, he discussed his ever-changing routine to prepare for the Masters and the different approaches he’s acquired after seeking counsel about the tournament over the years.

There’s a lot of that goes on; a lot of tight swings where you’re almost making sure you’re missing it in the right spot, instead of maybe just saying, “I’m not going to go at the pin, I’m going to go here but be aggressive for that spot.”

On Friday, he went at the pin anyways, hit some solid shots, got rewarded, then robbed.

This year, McIlroy will go to the weekend just outside the top 10 but it could have been much more. He survived through two windy days and a Friday round where his driving, usually his strength, was a bit wild. Augusta got even at the 18th. The big number has not come. Now here’s hoping the hot streak starts Saturday and those flagsticks stay the hell out of the way.

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Pictures and video: Anti-war protesters appear in several locations across the United States

A day after a US missile strike on a Syria airbase there was a scatter of anti-war and anti-Trump protests across the United States. Protests in Chicago: Anti war protesters gather outside Trump Tower to demonstrate against the US retaliatory bombing in Syria @fox32news — Craig Wall FOX 32 (@craigrwall) April 7, 2017 100 or so […]

The post Pictures and video: Anti-war protesters appear in several locations across the United States appeared first on

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ICE arrests immigrants attempting to apply for legal status at US citizenship and immigration office

ICE agents arrested five undocumented immigrants at a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office in Massachusetts last week, with at least four there for appointments to seek legal status, according to the Washington Post. Two of the immigrants have no criminal record, others have traffic violations, but all have previous deportation orders. In Donald Trump’s America, that combination—along with an unshackled ICE—is enough to become a priority for arrest and deportation:

Leandro Arriaga has been in the United States illegally since 2001.

He stayed despite a deportation order and over the past 16 years has made a living fixing and remodeling homes. He also started a family. But the father of four had grown tired of “living in the shadows,” his attorney said.

So last week, he went to a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office for his marriage petition interview — the first step to legalize his presence in the United States through his wife, a naturalized citizen. The process, called an I-130 visa petition, is a common way for foreigners to gain legal residency through their relatives or spouses.

But Arriaga was arrested that day, along with four others who also showed up at the USCIS office in Lawrence, Mass. […]

Though the arrests aren’t unprecedented, legal experts say they are indicative of the Trump administration’s broader view on what counts as high priority for deportation. Adam Cox, an immigration law professor at New York University, said the arrests signify a level of immigration enforcement that is “very different” from that of the previous administration. […]

“This is not to say that, under Obama, they absolutely would not have been removed and arrested. That could have happened,” [Hiroshi Motomura, an immigration law professor at the University of California at Los Angeles] said. “But there is less bureaucratic constraint now than during Obama, and this means that their arrest, detention and removal is more likely than before.”

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