Sorenstam Has to Settle for Perfect Ending

By Associated PressJune 29, 2008, 4:00 pm
U.S. WomenEDINA, Minn. -- This wasnt exactly the way Annika Sorenstam thought it would end, if this actually was the end. It might not be, because Sorenstam conceded earlier this week there was an outside chance we may not have seen the last of her in the U.S. Womens Open just quite yet.
 
For now, though, the plans of the greatest female player of her generation are to retire at the end of the year and start a family before her biological clock ticks down. Unless they change, this was the last time she would play in the Open championship she won three times in her storied career.
 
A few groups behind her on a windy Sunday at Interlachen Country Club, a teenager from South Korea was on her way to a final round romp to become the youngest Open winner ever. Sorenstam was once that kind of player, but at the age of 37 her desire to play golf for a living is waning at the same time her desire to have children and do more normal things grows.
 
She wanted to leave here in style, cradling her fourth Open trophy before heading overseas for her final major championship at the British Open. She hit the ball well enough to do just that, but the putter wouldnt cooperate and her emotional tank had long since run dry.
 
Now she stood on the 18th fairway, 199 yards from the last hole of a championship that helped define her career. With a 6-iron in her hand, she needed to get up-and-down just to avoid embarrassing herself by not being able to break 80
 
Then the player who had always dreamed of a perfect day on the golf course got the next best thing'a perfect ending to her Open career.
 
The shot sailed majestically toward the green, bounced once just in front and a few more times before sliding into the right side of the hole. From the fairway, Sorenstam heard the roar grow as the ball got closer and dropped into the hole for an eagle 3.
 
She had saved her best for last. And the fans, it seems, had saved their love for last.
 
They cheered her as she walked up the fairway arm-in-arm with her caddie. They called out for her to come back for another year.
 
And finally they stood as one to give her a farewell that should have reduced her to tears.
 
It didnt, perhaps because there just wasnt anything left inside to cry about. She was never the emotional sort anyway, something which may have prevented her from connecting with fans in a more personal way over the years.
 
A day earlier, Sorenstam said she felt like crying, but that was only because her birdie putts kept missing the hole. She always seemed cold and calculating on the course, largely because that was how she needed to play to win, but she could also usually count on an emotional reserve that is much harder to find now.
 
My tank is empty, Sorenstam said. You need adrenaline, you need energy. Its just very hard to run just on fumes. You can only take it so far.
 
Sorenstam has been running on fumes for quite some time now, looking little like the player who dominated womens golf so totally that when she didnt win it came as a surprise.
 
The game is still there, even if the burning desire isnt. Indeed, Sorenstam was the best from tee to green in the first three rounds in this Open before it all came apart on a final day when her usual laser-like drives found the rough and trees instead of the center of the fairway.
 
She has other things in her life now, a new fiance, a golf tournament of her own, and business ventures on the side. When she announced in May that she would not play past this year it came as a shock to many but little surprise to those who could see she no longer had the drive to be the best.
 
It was that drive that helped her win 11 tournaments in one year, be as dominate on the womens tour as Tiger Woods is on the PGA Tour, and give her the confidence to play'and play well'with the men. She always thought she could do better, and subscribed to the philosophy that a perfect round of 18 birdies on a golf course was entirely possible.
 
Sorenstam never had that round, but she came close. She is the only woman to shoot a 59 competitively, and still plays a special Callaway ball with that number stamped on it.
 
Shell go down as the best of her time, but is not ready to have her career obituary written just quite yet. Shes got one more major and another eight or nine tournaments left as she plays out the string this year.
 
After that, its goodbye, though Sorenstam insisted she was not looking for a victory tour or one last lap around the world when she announced her retirement.
 
She leaves with enough Open memories to last a lifetime, both good and bad. Shes won three of them, but lost at least that many that she thought she should have won.
 
This may have been one of them, though she had nothing left in her when she really needed it.
 
The only consolation was she was able to make one more special memory at the end.
 
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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.”