Mickelson hoping to find form in title defense

By Associated PressAugust 28, 2008, 4:00 pm
DeutscheBank Logo 2007NORTON, Mass. ' Phil Mickelsons star presence at the Deutsche Bank Championship was evident Thursday by the company he kept at the TPC Boston.
He played the pro-am with tournament host Seth Waugh, the CEO of Deutsche Bank Americas; New York mayor Michael Bloomberg and New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft. Such is the VIP treatment typically afforded the highest-ranked player in the field.
FedExCup playoff standings aside, that honor still falls to Mickelson.
He is No. 2 in the world ranking, although its easy to forget that. Because while Tiger Woods has been out of sight for two months after his season-ending knee surgery, Mickelson at times has been MIA.
Some thought he would take advantage of Woods absence by piling up victories, perhaps another major or two, and giving himself a chance to win the money title or PGA TOUR player of the year for the first time in his career.
But it hasnt worked out that way.
Mickelson has played four times with only one serious chance at winning, when he had a one-shot lead until bogeys on three of the last four holes at Firestone to tie for fourth. He had to rally to make the weekend at the British Open, was steady but not spectacular in his tie for seventh at the PGA Championship and opened the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup last week with a tie for 19th.
Ive played the same way Ive played throughout the year, Mickelson said. I just havent been scoring the way I would like. Even though I feel like Im playing better, the little shots around the greens have cost me. But Im starting to get that turned around, and I expect to have a much better week.
By most standards, Mickelson has had a good year. He won at Riviera and Colonial, and he is third on the money list, a little more than $1 million behind Woods. With three more $7 million events, a money title is not out of reach.
This would be a good place to turn it around, even if the cast of characters has changed.
A year ago, Mickelson surged into FedExCup contention with perhaps the most exciting playoff event at the Deutsche Bank Championship. He played the first two rounds with Woods and Vijay Singh, then hooked up with Woods in the final round and closed with a 66 and beat Woods and two others by two shots.
Asked how he remembered last year, Mickelson broke up the room by saying only, Very fondly.
It was a fun tournament last year, and I loved the opportunity to have won the tournament, he said. But I also love the way it happened, with the opportunity to play three rounds with Tiger.
Woods hasnt played since winning the U.S. Open in a playoff, and the tour has had a taste of life without the worlds most famous athletes. Attendance has been noticeably down in recent events, and television ratings have plunged, as to be expected.
Someone asked Mickelson if he wondered what golf would be like if Woods wasnt around. He figured he would be No. 1 in the world and Id be making half as much as I am now.
That was a reference to Woods being responsible for such big purses on tour.
Im very thankful hes in our sport, and hes had the success and the charisma and the lure to attract corporate America, as well as fans, to the game, he said.
Interest now is driven by a slow elimination amid volatile change in the standings as the FedExCup heads to a conclusion next month with $10 million going to the winner.
Singh took over the lead with a victory at The Barclays last week, while the two guys he beat in the playoff at Ridgewood ' Sergio Garcia and Kevin Sutherland ' are right behind.
Mickelson is at No. 4, and feeling good vibes from the TPC Boston, is hopeful of making a move.
There was a fun moment on the practice range after the pro-am that showed where his priorities are. His caddie, Jim Bones Mackay was looking for the perfect spot on the range for Lefty to practice, off to the side at an angle where the light wind was directly into them.
This OK? Mackay said when Mickelson arrived.
Oh, yeah. Hanging lie. Sidehill. Yeah, thats perfect, Mickelson said in mock sarcasm.
Youre left-handed, Mackay replied. You know that, right? You are playing left-handed this week, arent you?
Mickelson ended the good-natured exchange by saying, Im going to go chip a few.
He spent the next several minutes chipping from various points around a practice green, feeling as though that element of his game ' even Woods believes he has the best short game in golf ' has been hurting him.
I feel like Im hitting the ball pretty good, Mickelson said. The key is going to be ' again ' scoring, getting up-and-down around the greens that I miss and getting those birdie putts to drop.
As much focus as there is at the top, equally important this week is the bottom. The second round of the playoffs is for the top 120 players, with only 70 advancing to the third round next week in St. Louis for the BMW Championship.
Lee Janzen is in a familiar spot.
He started these playoffs in the last position, at No. 144, and again is essentially in last place at No. 119 because Alex Cejka withdrew with injury.
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    Watch: Strong start, rough finish for Koepka

    By Golf Channel DigitalJune 21, 2018, 4:45 pm

    U.S. Open hangover? Not for Brooks Koepka. The two-time national champion has carried over his form and confidence from Shinnecock Hills to TPC River Highlands.

    Koepka began his round with a par at the par-4 10th and then reeled off four consecutive birdies, beginning at No. 11.

    And here is the capper at the 14th

    Koepka turned in 4-under 31. Here's more action from his opening nine holes.

    After a par at the first, Koepka added a fifth birdie of the day at the par-4 second.

    A bogey at the par-4 fourth dropped him to 4 under, but just one off the lead. That, however, sparked a wild ride to the finish line as he also bogeyed Nos. 5, 7 and 9, and birdied the sixth. It totaled to a second-nine, 2-over 37 and an overall score of 2-under 68.

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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.

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    “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.”