Notes Wisconsin looking for another yearly stop

By Associated PressAugust 12, 2010, 2:50 am

2010 PGA Championship

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. – Wisconsin is back in the golf spotlight for the first time since losing its annual PGA Tour event last year, when the 42-year-old U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee folded.

Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly, both from Madison, talked for a time about trying to revive a regular stop, but organizing the event has proven hard.

“It’s just a tough time for businesses in our area to stick in a lot of money,” Stricker said. “The date that we had opposite the British Open, the fee for a business to put up money for that week is a lot less than, say, a better date that’s not opposite a major. That fee is in the $7 to $9 million range, and that’s a tough pill to swallow for a lot of companies.”

Attendance at Milwaukee’s tournament sagged when it was placed opposite the British Open in the final three years of the event. The top players went overseas instead of returning to the tournament Tiger Woods made his pro debut at in 1996.

Wisconsin golf officials instead point to big events like the U.S. Amateur at Erin Hills next year, the 2012 U.S. Women’s Open at nearby Blackwolf Run, the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, the 2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills and the 2020 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits.

“I’m not sure our area can handle two of these big sporting events in a year. And it’s sad, but I’m happy that we’re able to get these majors,” Stricker said. “It looks like it’s very well attended so far, and I think that people will gravitate toward these every-other-year events a little bit more than (a tournament) opposite the British Open.”

Stricker said that maybe a Champions Tour event would come to the area, but for now, fans in Wisconsin will have to be patient.

“We’re still hopeful,” he said. “We’re still working on it.”


MONTY’S MATE: This time, it was Colin Montgomerie’s turn to face questions about his personal life. Coming to his aid was Corey Pavin, his opposing captain in the Ryder Cup.

Montgomerie, who is trying to patch up his marriage after reports of a fling with an old girlfriend surfaced in June, was asked about an injunction against a British newspaper to bar information about his personal life.

“I know a lot of you are having a lot of fun right now at my expense,” Montgomerie said. “Let me clear this up, though. I can categorically say that there’s no injunction … regarding anything. I’m really not going to discuss this any further. I apologize for this, that you have to bring this up, but at the same time, no further comments.”

That wasn’t the end of it.

Another reporter asked if there was an injunction in place against a woman.

“Excuse me, I’m here to talk about the Ryder Cup, OK?” Montgomerie said. “So please, no further questions on that or any other subjection regarding my private life.”

And that’s when Pavin jumped in.

“I agree with Colin, actually,” Pavin added. “Let’s stick to golf subjects here.”


RYDER CUP PROJECTIONS: With so much debate over Tiger Woods being a captain’s pick, he gets to play at least one more tournament to try to make the team on his own.

The PGA Championship released its prize money on Wednesday – $7.5 million, same as last year. That will give Woods a clear indication of the minimum he needs this week.

Woods is in 10th place in the Ryder Cup standings, leaving him 243.69 points (each point equals $1,000 in PGA Tour earnings) behind Lucas Glover. That means Woods will have to finish at least 15th in the PGA Championship, assuming Glover and Dustin Johnson in ninth place miss the cut and that no one behind Woods passes him.


WESTWOOD OUTLOOK: Lee Westwood is home in England resting an injured calf that is expected to keep him out until just before the Ryder Cup.

He is the No. 3 player in the world. He has been a runner-up in two majors this year. And his captain, Colin Montgomerie, is not worried.

“Having spoken to Lee, he will be hitting balls in four weeks, which is great news for everybody in Europe,” Montgomerie said. “He’s our top-ranked player and our Ryder Cup team will be greatly weakened if he didn’t make it. So I’m delighted that he is going to hit balls within four weeks, and that gives him still another couple of weeks to prepare.”

Montgomerie said Westwood’s goal is to play the Vivendi Cup a week before the matches.

“If he doesn’t, I’m sure three practice rounds around Celtic Manor will be good enough for Lee,” Montgomerie said.


ROCKSTAR YANG: Y.E. Yang, last year’s PGA Championship winner, was surprised when he was assigned six bodyguards upon returning home.

He understood a little better when he saw their clothes in tatters. The South Korean’s safety detail failed to keep pace on Jeju-do Island.

“I was kind of trying to figure out what was going on,” Yang said through an interpreter. “It turns out all their jackets and suits were all ripped up because there were so many fans that wanted to get my autograph.”

Yang said none of his bodyguards were hurt.

“It was kind of funny to see those big bodyguards and their clothes getting ripped up like that,” he said.


ACTING HIS AGE: Rory McIlroy might be a little jealous of Rickie Fowler and Ryo Ishikawa.

No, not because of Fowler’s Justin Bieber-like shag or Ishikawa’s flowing curls—though they are perhaps the only players who can rival the mop-topped McIlroy. When pairings for the first two rounds of the PGA Championship came out, Fowler and Ishikawa were in the same group.

McIlroy, Fowler and Ishikawa are leaders in golf’s youth movement along with Anthony Kim and Hunter Mahan, and they’ve become good friends off the course, too.

“Whenever you get paired with one of the guys in the tournament, you’re looking forward to it because you can talk about stuff that we like to talk about,” said McIlroy, who is 21 like Fowler. “Rather than trying to talk to a 40-year-old.”

One of McIlroy’s playing partners Thursday and Friday? The 43-year-old Steve Stricker.


DIVOTS: The 73 international players this week are the most for a PGA Championship. They represent 22 countries. … Corey Pavin and Colin Montgomerie said they wouldn’t put themselves on their Ryder Cup teams even if they won the PGA Championship this week. … Heavy rains fell twice in the morning, causing giant puddles in many of the nearly 1,000 bunkers at the course. Large bunkers along the first fairway still had visible water late in the afternoon, including some several inches deep, and the course was still soggy. The National Weather Service said a little over an inch of rain fell in Sheboygan. … It’s the third PGA Championship in Wisconsin after Gene Sarazen won in 1933 in Milwaukee and Vijay Singh did it at Whistling Straits in 2004.

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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.”

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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.”


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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.”

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Sunday run at Shinnecock gave Reed even more confidence

By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 9:08 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – While many big names are just coming around to the notion that the Travelers Championship is worth adding to the schedule, Patrick Reed has been making TPC River Highlands one of his favorite haunts for years.

Reed will make his seventh straight appearance outside Hartford, where he tied for fifth last year and was T-11 the year before that. He is eager to get back to the grind after a stressful week at the U.S. Open, both because of his past success here and because it will offer him a chance to build on a near-miss at Shinnecock Hills.

Reed started the final round three shots off the lead, but he quickly stormed toward the top of the leaderboard and became one of Brooks Koepka’s chief threats after birdies on five of his first seven holes. Reed couldn’t maintain the momentum in the middle of the round, carding three subsequent bogeys, and ultimately tied for fourth.


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It was a bittersweet result, but Reed is focusing on the positives after taking a couple days to reflect.

“If you would have told me that I had a chance to win coming down Sunday, I would have been pleased,” Reed said. “I felt like I just made too many careless mistakes towards the end, and because of that, you’re not going to win at any major making careless mistakes, especially on Sunday.”

Reed broke through for his first major title at the Masters, and he has now finished fourth or better in three straight majors dating back to a runner-up at the PGA last summer. With another chance to add to that record next month in Scotland, he hopes to carry the energy from last week’s close call into this week’s event on a course where he feels right at home.

“It just gives me confidence, more than anything,” Reed said. “Of course I would have loved to have closed it out and win, but it was a great week all in all, and there’s a lot of stuff I can take from it moving forward. That’s how I’m looking at it.”

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Koepka back to work, looking to add to trophy collection

By Will GrayJune 20, 2018, 8:53 pm

CROMWELL, Conn. – Days after ensuring the U.S. Open trophy remained in his possession for another year, Brooks Koepka went back to work.

Koepka flew home to Florida after successfully defending his title at Shinnecock Hills, celebrating the victory Monday night with Dustin Johnson, Paulina Gretzky, swing coach Claude Harmon III and a handful of close friends. But he didn’t fully unwind because of a decision to honor his commitment to the Travelers Championship, becoming the first player to tee it up the week after a U.S. Open win since Justin Rose in 2013.

Koepka withdrew from the Travelers pro-am, but he flew north to Connecticut on Wednesday and arrived to TPC River Highlands around 3 p.m., quickly heading to the driving range to get in a light practice session.

“It still hasn’t sunk in, to be honest with you,” Koepka said. “I’m still focused on this week. It was just like, ‘All right, if I can get through this week, then I’m going to be hanging with my buddies next week.’ I know then maybe it’ll sink in, and I’ll get to reflect on it a little bit more.”


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Koepka’s plans next week with friends in Boston meant this week’s event outside Hartford made logistical sense. But he was also motivated to play this week because, plainly, he hasn’t had that many playing opportunities this year after missing nearly four months with a wrist injury.

“I’ve had so many months at home being on the couch. I don’t need to spend any more time on the couch,” Koepka said. “As far as skipping, it never crossed my mind.”

Koepka’s legacy was undoubtedly bolstered by his win at Shinnecock, as he became the first player in nearly 30 years to successfully defend a U.S. Open title. But he has only one other PGA Tour win to his credit, that being the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open, and his goal for the rest of the season is to make 2018 his first year with multiple trophies on the mantle.

“If you’re out here for more than probably 15 events, it gives you a little better chance to win a couple times. Being on the sidelines isn’t fun,” Koepka said. “Keep doing what we’re doing and just try to win multiple times every year. I feel like I have the talent. I just never did it for whatever reason. Always felt like we ran into a buzzsaw. So just keep plugging away.”