McIlroy not really having whale of a time while on Plantation Course

Rosie McIlroy watches her son, Rory, play the 15th hole Saturday at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. Rory McIlroy said his mother has spotted three whales from the course so far, while he has seen none. -- The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

Rory McIlroy’s mother, Rosie, leads her son by three this week at the Sentry Tournament of Champions — in whale sightings.

“The ocean,” McIlroy said during his post-round press conference Saturday when asked what he looks at between shots at the Plantation Course, where he is making his debut. “I still haven’t seen a whale. But it’s hard with the white caps. My mom said she saw three yesterday.”

McIlroy said he usually just shares small talk with his caddie, Harry Diamond, between shots at most events, or looks at the hole ahead of him.

“Usually that’s all you have, that’s all you have to look at,” McIlroy said. “So it’s nice. It’s a nice distraction. There’s no way I could think about golf or think about my shot in between shots that whole time, I need something to distract me and usually it’s Harry and I talking about football or sport or whatever, and this week it’s just (different).”

Contrasting styles

International players won the Sentry Tournament of Champions for nine straight years, from 2002 to 2010. Americans have won the last eight titles.

Today’s final pairing features Gary Woodland, who grew up in Kansas, and Rory McIlroy, who is from Northern Ireland.

Neither have won here before. Woodland was 24th here in 2012 and tied for 13th in 2014.

McIlroy is attempting to become the first player to win here in his debut since Daniel Chopra did it in 2008.

Clean cards

Hole of the Day: No. 13 / 407 yards • Par 4 / The 13th played as the toughest hole on Saturday. It saw five birdies, 20 pars, six bogeys, and two double bogeys in the third round to play 0.152 strokes over par. For the week, No. 13 is the fourth-toughest hole, playing 0.091 strokes over par.

There have been seven bogey-free rounds in the tournament so far: Kevin Tway (66) in the first round; Xander Schauffele (67), Bryson DeChambeau (68) and Keegan Bradley (69) in the second round; and Rory McIlroy (68), Troy Merritt (69) and Matt Kuchar (72) in the third round.

Long distance

Each round has seen a 400-yard drive.

On Thursday, Cameron Champ had a 403-yard drive, while Jon Rahm smacked a drive 421 yards the next day.

Saturday’s longest drive was 405 yards by Xander Schauffele.

Quotable

“I wasn’t as shocked, I just saw somebody’s face in the background. They weren’t too happy that the ball went in, so it made me laugh. I enjoyed that.”

— Gary Woodland, on his 64-foot eagle putt that gave him the lead on the 15th hole Saturday

COMMENTS