Hot putter gives Aussie OHern top spot at Fryscom

By Associated PressOctober 23, 2009, 5:18 am

PGA TourSCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Brandishing a hot putter on a warm afternoon, Australian Nick O’Hern cruised to a career-low 63 and the first-round lead in the Frys.com Open on Thursday.

O’Hern, who finished at 7 under, putted only nine times while posting a 28 on the par-35 back nine at Grayhawk Golf Club. Eight of O’Hern’s nine birdies came in that stretch.

“Pretty scary,” O’Hern said. “I’ve never done that before. I was pretty happy.”

Bob Heintz and Heath Slocum were a stroke back at 64, and D.A. Points, Rory Sabbatini, Greg Owen and Rickie Fowler shot 65s.

Fred Couples, who captained the United States to victory in the Presidents Cup earlier this month, shot a 67 in his first tour round in seven weeks.

With little wind on an 82-degree day in the desert, scores fell as players attacked Grayhawk’s Raptor Course.

Scores may keep dropping for the rest of the week. Temperatures are expected to reach the high 80s in each of the final three rounds.

“It’s like playing indoors,” said Paul Goydos, who shot a 66 to finish in a 15-way tie for eighth place. “The weather is too good. I would expect you’re going to see a pretty bunched leaderboard all week.”

Indeed, O’Hern had to shoot the round of his life to eke out a one-stroke lead.

O’Hern may best be known as the first player to beat Tiger Woods twice in match play as a professional. The short-hitting lefty from Australian beat the world’s No. 1 in the Accenture Match Play Championship in 2005 and in 2007, and fans haven’t forgotten.

“A lot of people don’t know my name,” O’Hern said. “Hey, that’s the guy that beat Tiger twice.”

O’Hern probably could have taken Woods down again on Thursday – at least on the back nine.

O’Hern hit the turn at even par, then caught fire. He birdied six straight holes before bogeying the par-3 16th when his tee shot rolled off the bank of the green and into the water.

“It wasn’t actually a bad shot, but the result was bad,” O’Hern said.

He recovered to birdie the final two holes.

His longest putts were a 48-footer on the par-4 12th and a 20-footer on the par-4 17th.

O’Hern has never won a PGA Tour event, and he missed the cut in nine of his first 25 tournaments this year. O’Hern struggled to bounce back from offseason surgery on his left thumb and his right knee.

“That kind of held my progress back at the start of the year,” O’Hern said. “I had a bit of a late start.”

Heintz, also winless on the Tour, missed the cut in eight of his first 18 starts this year.

Heintz professed not to know that he was 171st on the money list – and it’s not because he struggles with numbers. Heintz graduated from Yale with a degree in economics in 1992.

“If I was over $1 million, I would look at it every day and smile,” Heintz said. “But you know, when you’re where I am, I don’t think it really helps you to.”

The Frys.com Open has a $5 million purse, with the winner taking home $900,000.

Couples said he decided to play in the tournament partly because his girlfriend, Julie, lives in the area, and also because it wasn’t far from his home in Palm Springs.

“My whole thought process was just, I live four hours from here in Palm Springs, I might as well drive over here and play,” Couples said.

Thursday’s round was Couples’ first tour appearance since he missed the cut in the Deutsche Bank Championship in September.

Couples wasn’t sure how he’d shoot after the long layoff, but he birdied five holes in a six-hole stretch to play his way into contention.

“I’m absolutely thrilled with my round today,” Couples said. “I have a shot at playing better than I thought going into Friday.”

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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.”