Stricker takes lead in Barclays title defense

By Associated PressAugust 22, 2008, 4:00 pm
the Barclays Logo 2007PARAMUS, N.J. ' Steve Stricker is right at home at Ridgewood Country Club ' and the top of The Barclays leaderboard.
 
A year after winning across the Hudson at Westchester Country Club, the Wisconsin player shot a 7-under 64 in perfect morning conditions Friday to take a three-stroke lead over Hunter Mahan in the FedExCup playoff opener.
 
This reminds me of home to tell you the truth, Stricker said. This looks like a course that could be very easily in the Midwest somewhere. It reminds me of Medinah a lot. The grasses are the same. We putt on poa annua greens a lot where Im from. Its bentgrass fairways, bluegrass rough and everything reminds me of home.
 
The 41-year-old Stricker, 21st in the FedExCup standings, had a 10-under 132 total on the tree-lined A.W. Tillinghast layout, the tournament site for the first time after 41 seasons at Westchester. He hasnt made a bogey since dropping strokes on the first two holes Thursday, playing his last 23 holes in 11 under.
 
I think the course is in such good shape, thats why the scoring is good, Stricker said. I think as we get further along, the scoring could get a little bit better just because guys will find a way to play it, understand it a little bit more and feel a little bit more comfortable with what they are doing out there.
 
Mahan, 31st in the FedExCup standings, followed his opening 62 with a 73.
 
I probably hit it better than I did yesterday, but nothing went in, Mahan said.
 
Kenny Perry, effectively the FedExCup leader with top-ranked Tiger Woods sidelined by a knee injury, shot a 67 to join Angel Cabrera (67) and Dudley Hart (69) at 6 under.
 
Im ecstatic, Perry said. Im in a good position.
 
Anthony Kim (67), Sergio Garcia (67), Kevin Streelman (70), Charley Hoffman (70) and Paul Casey (71) were 5 under.
 
I definitely played a lot better, Kim said. Its a lot more fun when youre not hitting out of the trees and chipping out sideways.
 
Phil Mickelson was eight strokes back at 2 under after a 70.
 
A lot of birdies and a lot of bogeys, Mickelson said. I need to go out (Saturday) and have a good day and shoot 6 or 7 under.
 
Padraig Harrington had rounds of 72 and 73 to miss the cut by two strokes.
 
Im tired, the British Open and PGA winner said. I tried hard, but struggled to focus this afternoon. It really is a knockdown after the last couple of weeks.
 
Stricker eagled the par-5 third hole, hitting a 60-degree wedge shot from about 70 yards that spun back into the hole, and was 4 under after five holes. He hit a 5-iron to 20 feet on the par-4 11th to set up a birdie, and made a 6-footer on the par-5 13th to tie Mahan for the lead at 9 under. The four-time tour winner pulled ahead with a 12-foot birdie putt on the par-3 15th and closed with three pars.
 
The PGA TOUR's comeback player of the year the last two seasons, Stricker hit nine of 14 fairways, 14 greens in regulation and needed only 25 putts on the small greens.
 
They were perfect and they rolled great, Stricker said. They were smooth. They still held fairly well, but you could tell that they are going to get firm.
 
After finishing ninth in the points race for the eight automatic positions on the U.S. Ryder Cup team, Stricker is trying to earn a spot at Valhalla next month as one of Paul Azingers four captains picks.
 
Ive got two tournaments going on within one. Thats basically what I feel like, Stricker said. Im trying like heck to keep it out of my mind, but its nearly impossible. I feel a little more pressure.
 
Garcia has thrived on old-school courses, twice winning at Westchester and claiming titles at Colonial and Congressional.
 
Its a wonderful golf course, Garcia said. Youve got to drive the ball well and shape it both ways and make sure that your short game is in shape, because its quite difficult around the greens.
 
Hart birdied the 18th, fading a 3-iron around the trees lining the right side of the fairway and holing a tricky 6-footer from the top of a ridge.
 
I had to hit every bit of a 3-iron in there, Hart said. This is a great golf course. This is one of the best courses weve played all year for sure.
 
DIVOTS
 
Canadian star Mike Weir is growing a playoff beard. I was on vacation last week down at a lake and let it grow and got back and I thought, Hey, its playoff time, maybe Ill just keep it, said Weir, 3 under after a 67. Its a hockey thing. In hockey, guys grow the beards, so I thought I would give it a shot and see if it works. Eric Axley followed his opening 78 with a 65 to make the cut by a shot. Ernie Els missed the cut by a stroke with rounds of 71 and 73. Stricker last held a 36-hole lead in the 2006 U.S. Open. He tied for sixth. The top 120 in FedExCup standings will qualify for the Deutsche Bank Championship next week in Norton, Mass. The field will be cut to 70 for the BMW Championship in St. Louis and to 30 for the TOUR Championship in Atlanta.
 
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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.


    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.”