Players still warming to the idea of golf in the Olympics

By Damon HackFebruary 3, 2015, 4:47 pm

Dan Jansen is more likely to be in golf spikes than speed skates these days, but his experience as an Olympic champion is never far from his mind.

As a boy in West Allis, Wis., the Olympics were the reason to drive hundreds of miles across state lines to compete in tournaments. It was the reason to wake up when the sky was still dark. It was the reason to skate that icy oval until his hamstrings burned.

When Jansen finally became an Olympian, he was met with great joy but also tremendous heartbreak, most notably when his sister, Jane, died the day he was scheduled to compete in the 500 meters in Calgary in 1988. Jansen, dedicating his race to her, fell to the ice just 100 meters in. Four days later, in the 1,000 meters, he fell again.

In his fourth Olympics, at Lillehammer in 1994, he finally outraced his past and the competition, winning gold, setting a world record and hearing “The Star Spangled Banner.”



“Never in my life have I felt more patriotic than when I had the honor of hearing our national anthem,” Jansen said in a recent interview. “I won 46 World Cup races and a bunch of world championship races, but that song never sounded like that.”

Jansen, like many observers, sees golf’s return to the Olympics as a potential boon for a game looking for growth. But he also wonders if professional athletes can grasp the special meaning of the Games, especially when compared with major championships.

Professional golf at the highest level is awash in big-time events – four majors, The Players, four World Golf Championships, a Ryder Cup, a Presidents Cup and a lucrative FedEx Cup chase with four playoff events.

The LPGA added a fifth major in 2013 and the International Crown in 2014, not to mention the growing popularity of the biennial Solheim Cup.

Tom Watson, who calls the majors “the pinnacle of golf,” contends that golf simply should not be in the Olympics. Adam Scott, the former world No. 1, said in December that Olympic golf should at least be limited to amateurs, the better the chance to grow the game globally.

“People watch us (professionals) play 45 weeks a year,” Scott said, adding that he wants to play in the Olympics but the majors are his focus.

To Jansen, therein lies the conflict.

“It’s kind of hard for me to hear the top players in the world say the Olympics will not be their top priority, even that year – it will be their fifth at best,” he said. “I feel this about all professional sports in the Olympics. I completely understand why an NBA player would rather win a title, a hockey player a Stanley Cup, a golfer a major.

“But for most amateur athletes, the Olympic Games are the ultimate prize from the time we could dream. That was our 3-footer to win the Masters, our buzzer-beater to win a title. The fact that they make millions playing their respective sports is not a problem for me. But if the Olympics isn’t the priority, please don’t come.”

It’s an understandable sentiment.

The Olympics are precious, a once-every-four-year proposition, or, in many cases, a once-in-a-lifetime one. They are fleeting moments born of years of toil.

For the most part, the golfers are saying the right things so far.

They realize that people from around the globe may be watching golf for the first time, and that the potential for exponential growth is real.

But will the golfers truly grind for an Olympic medal the way they grind for a green jacket? Can golf find someone like pro tennis’ Andy Murray, the Scot who won Olympic gold at the All-England Club and proclaimed he wouldn’t trade his medal for a Wimbledon title.

“There’s no doubt the four major championships are the pinnacle of the game right now,” Graeme McDowell, the 2010 U.S. Open champion, said during the PGA Merchandise Show. “Golf has not been a part of the Olympics since 1904. We have a lot of learning to do, we have a lot of understanding to do. I believe the legacy in golf will grow as players experience it, [and] as we witness the first golfer standing on the podium with a gold medal around their necks, listening to their national anthem.

“Until that point, I don’t think we’ll understand the impact it’s going to have on the world of golf.”

Said Rickie Fowler, when asked about golf and the Olympics: “It’s a dream come true that you haven’t dreamt of because golf was never in it.”

A few weeks ago, PGA Tour rookies Justin Thomas and Carlos Ortiz were talking about the start of their careers when the subject of the Olympics came up.

Ortiz, who is from Mexico, was excited about both of their prospects to qualify.

“You’re going to make it,” Ortiz told Thomas, who fired back with a laugh.

“Dude, I’ve got like 100 people to pass [to qualify for the United States],” Thomas said. “Have fun in Brazil.”

The best news may be that two young players are talking about the Olympics in the midst of their first spin around the PGA Tour. It shows that they care. But if golf in the Olympics is to truly thrive, Thomas and Ortiz will need plenty of company.

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Watch: Koepka highlights from the Travelers

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 21, 2018, 3:30 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.

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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.”