Rory McIlroy touched down in Las Vegas last Sunday delighted to see the closing few holes of Martin Laird’s fourth PGA Tour victory.
Laird dramatically captured a second Shriners Hospital for Children Open on the TPC Summerlin course some 20 miles from where McIlroy this week will be looking to win for a first time in nearly a year in contesting the rescheduled CJ Cup at Shadow Creek.
McIlroy is among just 78 players teeing-up today [Thursday] in the fourth hosting of the event but relocated this year due to continuing COVID-19 concerns from South Korea to the Sin City.
The current World No. 4 ranked McIlroy vividly recalls being beaten into second place over seven years ago when Laird denied McIlroy victory in the Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio.
But there was nothing but plaudits from McIlroy for the 37-year old champion Scot.
McIlroy said: “I flew out here to Vegas on Sunday afternoon so I missed a little bit of it, but I caught the playoff.
“I thought Martin’s — after the huge par putt on 17 in regulation, bogeying 18, to come back and he had two great shots into 18, nearly made the birdie putt there.
“Then to birdie the 17th, the par-3, again with another big putt. Yeah, it was huge.
“Martin clearly likes that golf course, he’s done really well there before and he’s been in the playoffs, and I think he won it back a few years ago as well. It’s a good course for him and I was happy to see him win.
“The last time he won I finished second to him actually in San Antonio in 2013. It’s been a while for him but delighted for him.”
And fellow Scot Richie Ramsay was also quizzed on what he thought of Laird’s victory ahead of Ramsay teeing-up in this week’s inaugural Scottish Championship near St. Andrews.
“I didn’t watch it but I saw some of the clips. I saw he was in contention. I saw his up-and-down on 17 and the shot he hit out of the bunker – both incredible shots to get up and down, hole the bunker shot,” said Ramsay.
“And then obviously win in a playoff. I know Martin went to college over there, but he won multiple times on what is the Korn Ferry and he’s won four times on the PGA Tour and just the co-sanctioned ones, it’s big events.
“He’s that kind of player which when he gets hot, he’s really hot. He hits the ball long, hits it really high, and you know winning out here is tough, but when you’re Scottish and you travel all the way across to a different country and culture, maybe he should get a little bit more recognition for what he’s done.”