Compton earns Tour card; Duke wins title

By Associated PressOctober 30, 2011, 9:11 pm

CHARLESTON, S.C. – Two-time heart transplant recipient Erik Compton earned a PGA Tour card when he finished in the top 25 on the Nationwide Tour money list, while Ken Duke won the season-ended Nationwide Tour Championship on Sunday to also secure a spot on the big tour.

Duke closed with a 4-under 68 to finish at 10 under on Daniel Island Club’s Ralston Creek Course, two better than Scott Brown. The 42-year-old Duke earned $180,000 and went from 36th to seventh on the money list.

Compton wasn’t sure he’d ever play pro golf, let alone be member of the PGA Tour.

Yet the two-time heart transplant recipient finished off his dream Sunday. Compton mostly secured his spot in June when he won his first Nationwide title at the Mexico Open. He ended 13th overall with $239,737 to advance.

The 31-year-old Compton has played 30 career PGA events, but none with a tour card in his bag.

“It’s a miracle,” he said. “It really is a miracle what I’ve been able to achieve.”

J.J. Killeen won the money title, which made him fully exempt on the PGA Tour and gave him entry into the The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in May.

And the day ended with some drama as Brown made a long par-saving putt on the 17th and birdie on the 18th to finish alone in second when a bogey down the stretch would’ve dropped Billy Hurley III from the final qualifying spot at No. 25.

Hurley, a former Naval lieutenant who was on active duty in the Persian Gulf guarding Iraqi oil platforms two years ago, hugged his wife when Brown’s last put dropped.

James Nitties, who began the week in 23rd, fell to 26th, just outside what it took to join the PGA Tour.

There were plenty of smiles and disappointments as loud, celebratory music blared from the clubhouse when the event was over. None of the triumphs, though, seemed as amazing as Compton’s rise from two heart transplants. He was diagnosed at age 9 with cardiomyopathy, an enlarging of the heart that deters its ability to pump blood. Three years later in 1992, Compton received a new heart. He needed another donor heart in 2008 when the first one failed.

Compton took up golf after his first transplant as a way to exercise. It’s turned into much, much more.

“This game has been such a rehab for life for me, where I could go out and not think about the issues I have,” he said.

Compton had another setback this summer after playing in the PGA Tour’s AT&T National last July when his body rejected his heart, something doctors got under control with additional medicine. He took several weeks off and struggled to find his earlier form until recently. His tie for 18th at Daniel Island was his best placing since the win in Mexico.

“I came in here and just till the end I was pretty frustrated because I really wanted to play well and have a top finish,” Compton said. “At the end of the day, we’re all perfectionists.”

Duke said he’s ready to take once again take on the challenges of the sport’s top series. He might want to circle any events played in South Carolina. Duke’s only other Nationwide victory came at the BMW Classic around Greenville in 2006. He lost in a playoff on this course a year later to Michael Sim when the event was the Palmetto Pride Classic. He’s already planning an early April stop in Hilton Head for next year’s RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links.

“I knew I had some good memories here and I just had to be patient,” Duke said.

That was good advice for everyone who sweated out the final round with their futures on the line.

Hurley was 25th when the tournament began, then bounced back and forth on the qualifying line as the round played out. He seemed destined for disappointment when as David Lingmerth worked his way into second place for a while, but bogeys on the 15th and 16th holes dropped him back into a tie for third - and gave Hurley the last spot by fewer than $6,000 over Nitties.

“It was nice to see the cameras out there,” Hurley said. “I knew I was close.”

 

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Lyle going through 'scary' period in cancer recovery

By Associated PressJune 21, 2018, 12:58 pm

MELBOURNE, Australia – Jarrod Lyle's wife says the Australian golfer is struggling through a ''really scary'' period in his third battle with cancer.

Lyle, 36, underwent a bone marrow transplant last December following a recurrence of acute myeloid leukemia.

''It's been 190 days since Jarrod's stem-cell transplant and we are going through a really rough patch at the moment,'' Briony Lyle wrote on jarrodlylegolf.com. ''I'm typing this blog on his behalf because he's not able to do it. Jarrod's not able to drive, struggles to prepare any food for himself, can't read stories to the girls and is not able to offer much help at all around the house.

''He is also starting to look like a very frail, sick person.''

Briony Lyle added: ''We are both very aware of the amount of drugs and medication that has gone into Jarrod's body over the years but things are starting to get really scary at the moment. It looks as if this recovery is going to be the longest and hardest one so far.''

Lyle has twice beaten acute myeloid leukemia, in 1998 and 2012, and was able to return to play professional golf.

He made an emotional comeback to the golf course during the 2013 Australian Masters in Melbourne before using a medical exemption to play on the PGA Tour in 2015. He played four seasons on Tour, where he earned $1.875 million in 121 tournaments.

Lyle has since returned to Australia permanently to be with Briony and daughters Lusi and Jemma.

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Vermeer wins PGA Professional; 20 make PGA Championship

By Associated PressJune 21, 2018, 12:42 pm

SEASIDE, Calif. – Ryan Vermeer won the PGA Professional Championship on Wednesday, overcoming front-nine problems to top the 20 qualifiers for the PGA Championship.

The 40-year-old Vermeer, the director of instruction at Happy Hollow Club in Omaha, Nebraska, closed with a 1-over 73 on the Bayonet Course for a two-stroke victory over Sean McCarty and Bob Sowards.

The PGA Championship is in August at Bellerive in St. Louis.

Three strokes ahead entering the day, Vermeer played the front in 4 over with a double bogey on the par-4 second and bogeys on the par-4 seventh and par-4 eighth. He rebounded with birdies on the par-5 10th and par-4 11th and also birdied the par-5 18th.


Full-field scores from the PGA Professional Championship


Vermeer finished at 5-under 283. The former University of Kansas player earned $55,000. He won the 2017 Mizuno Pro/Assistant Championship and finished ninth last year in the PGA Professional to qualify for PGA at Quail Hollow.

McCarty had a 68, and Sowards shot 69. Sowards won the 2004 title.

David Muttitt and Jason Schmuhl tied for fourth at 1 under, and 2012 and 2015 champion Matt Dobyns, Jaysen Hansen, and Johan Kok followed at even par.

Marty Jertson, Brian Smock and Ben Kern were 1 over, and Zach Johnson, Craig Hocknull, Matt Borchert and 2016 winner Rich Berberian Jr. were 2 over. Nine players tied at 3 over, with Shawn Warren, 2017 champion Omar Uresti, 2014 winner Michael Block, Craig Bowden and Danny Balin getting the last five spots at Bellerive in a playoff. Balin got the final spot, beating Brian Norman with a par on the seventh extra hole after Norman lost a ball in a tree.

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Berger more than ready to rebound at Travelers

By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:54 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Daniel Berger hopes that this year he gets to be on the other end of a viral moment at the Travelers Championship.

Berger was a hard-luck runner-up last year at TPC River Highlands, a spectator as Jordan Spieth holed a bunker shot to defeat him in a playoff. It was the second straight year that the 25-year-old came up just short outside Hartford, as he carried a three-shot lead into the 2016 event before fading to a tie for fifth.

While he wasn’t lacking any motivation after last year’s close call, Berger got another dose last week at the U.S. Open when he joined Tony Finau as a surprise participant in the final group Sunday, only to shoot a 73 and drift to a T-6 finish.


Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


“It was one of the best experiences of my professional golf career so far. I feel like I’m going to be in such a better place next time I’m in that position, having felt those emotions and kind of gone through it,” Berger said. “There was a lot of reflection after that because I felt like I played good enough to get it done Sunday. I didn’t make as many putts as I wanted to, but I hit a lot of really good putts. And that’s really all you can do.”

Berger missed the cut earlier this month to end his quest for three straight titles in Memphis, but his otherwise consistent season has now included six top-20 finishes since January. After working his way into contention last week and still with a score to settle at TPC River Highlands, he’s eager to get back to work against another star-studded field.

“I think all these experiences you just learn from,” Berger said. “I think last week, having learned from that, I think that’s even going to make me a little better this week. So I’m excited to get going.”

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Rory tired of the near-misses, determined to close

By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:46 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Rory McIlroy has returned to the Travelers Championship with an eye on bumping up his winning percentage.

McIlroy stormed from the back of the pack to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March, but that remains his lone worldwide win since the 2016 Tour Championship. It speaks to McIlroy’s considerable ability and lofty expectations that, even with a number of other high finishes this season, he is left unsatisfied.

“I feel like I’ve had five realistic chances to win this year, and I’ve been able to close out one of them. That’s a bit disappointing, I guess,” McIlroy said. “But at least I’ve given myself five chances to win golf tournaments, which is much more than I did last year.”


Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


The most memorable of McIlroy’s near-misses is likely the Masters, when he played alongside Patrick Reed in Sunday’s final group but struggled en route to a T-5 finish. But more frustrating in the Ulsterman’s eyes were his runner-up at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, when he led by two shots with eight holes to go, and a second-place showing behind Francesco Molinari at the BMW PGA Championship in May.

“There’s been some good golf in there,” he said. “I feel like I let Dubai and Wentworth get away a little bit.”

He’ll have a chance to rectify that trend this week at TPC River Highlands, where he finished T-17 last year in his tournament debut and liked the course and the tournament enough to keep it on his schedule. It comes on the heels of a missed cut at the U.S. Open, when he was 10 over through 11 holes and never got on track. McIlroy views that result as more of an aberration during a season in which he has had plenty of chances to contend on the weekend.

“I didn’t necessarily play that badly last week. I feel like if I play similarly this week, I might have a good chance to win,” McIlroy said. “I think when you play in conditions like that, it magnifies parts of your game that maybe don’t stack up quite as good as the rest of your game, and it magnified a couple of things for me that I worked on over the weekend.”