Perry On Cusp of Third Win

By Associated PressJuly 12, 2008, 4:00 pm
2006 John Deere ClassicSILVIS, Ill. -- Kenny Perry finished with a flourish to move into a three-way tie for the lead through three rounds at the John Deere Classic on Saturday.
 
Perry, seeking his third victory in five starts, birdied the 18th hole to finish at 4-under 67 for the day and 15-under 198 for the tournament. That tied him with Eric Axley (67) and Brad Adamonis (66), who at 35 is the PGA TOURs oldest rookie.
 
Jay Williamson (62) and second-round leader Will MacKenzie (70) were one stroke back.
 
Perry was at 15-under after sinking a nine-foot birdie putt on the par-4 14th before hitting trouble on the 15th, hitting rough off the tee and two-putting from nine feet for a bogey. But he made up for it on the 18th, when his approach nearly hit the pin before settling just under six feet to its left.
 
That drew oohs and aahs from the crowd and even a You the man! from one spectator. Perry then buried the putt to complete the birdie on the par-4 hole and pull even with Axley and Adamonis.
 
While those three grabbed the lead, the 41-year-old Williamson made the biggest move with a 9-under round.
 
Five strokes off the lead when the day began, he jumped into contention for his first PGA TOUR win with a strong start and an astounding 29 (7-under) on the back nine.
 
He started with three birdies and was at 7-under for the tournament through the first nine holes. But he made his big move on the par-5 10th hole, when his 112-yard approach dropped into the cup. He birdied four of the next five holes to go 13-under, and ended the round with a 26-foot birdie putt.
 
Williamson pumped his fist and left the course tied for first. Although the lead didnt last, he certainly is in a better mood than when he was after he arrived on Tuesday. He saw that he is 158th in the FedEx Cup standings and cringed.
 
It frustrated me, and it also was a kick in the pants, he said. Again, I havent done anything yet. The fact of the matter is Ive got to go out tomorrow and perform.
 
Which is exactly what Perrys been doing lately.
 
His best run in more than two decades on the Tour began with a playoff loss at the AT&T Classic in May and continued with victories at the Memorial and Buick Open last month. After a week off, hes in position for his 12th win.
 
Perry has raised eyebrows in recent weeks by deciding not to try to qualify for the U.S. Open and honoring a commitment to play in Milwaukee next week rather than the British Open. The Kentucky native is focusing on a different major accomplishment: Helping the U.S. win the Ryder Cup at Valhalla in Louisville.
 
Hes made a commitment to this Tour because he knows that this Tour has put him where he is, and I think other guys need to take a look at what hes doing because hes taken a lot of heat for that, Williamson said. Hes a guy that really values what the Tour means to him.
 
While Williamson made a big leap toward the top, 2007 Masters champion Zach Johnson made a big move the other way.
 
He shot 4-over 75 for the day and was at 1-under for the tournament after bogeying four holes and double-bogeying the par-4 ninth.
 
Very disappointing, said Johnson, who grew up just over an hour away in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
 
He insisted his left wrist was fine after missing three weeks but was at a loss to explain another tough round at what he considers his home tournament.
 
I dont know what it was, said Johnson, who has never finished higher than 20th here.
 
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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.”