Clash of titans: Faldo, Miller team in Hawaii

By Doug FergusonDecember 20, 2011, 8:46 pm

The first PGA Tour event of the year at least will sound like a big tournament.

The Tournament of Champions at Kapalua will be hosted on the Golf Channel by Dan Hicks of NBC Sports, and for the first time will feature the dual commentary of Nick Faldo and Johnny Miller. Faldo, the main analyst for CBS Sports, also works for the Golf Channel. Miller is with NBC Sports, which along with the Golf Channel is under the new ownership.

Miller and Faldo one year were in the booth together briefly at The Players Championship. For the Tour’s season opener, they will be together all four days.

“It’s great repartee when Nick and I are together,” Miller said. “It’s kind of an older brother-younger brother dynamic. We’re not afraid to challenge each other.”

Faldo has six majors. Miller is the only player to shoot 63 in the final round to win the U.S. Open.

“I was really looking forward to a stress-free start to the new season,” Faldo said. “Now this news. Oh well, never mind. At least I’ve got two weeks in Hawaii watching the PGA Tour, and let’s just say some lively debate. Should be fun.”

FUNNY MONEY: If ever an award in golf needed an asterisk, it would be for Ai Miyazato winning the Ladies European Tour money list.

She played in only two tournaments – both part of the LPGA schedule – winning the Evian Masters and missing the cut at the Women’s British Open. Because the Evian Masters purse dwarfs everything else on the LET, the Japanese star earned $487,500, which easily beat out Melissa Reid and Carolina Hedwall.

Reid won twice in 19 starts on the LET, while Hedwall won four times in her 20 tournaments.

“To be honest I have mixed feelings because I’m receiving the award from just winning one event on the LET,” Miyazato said. “But I’ve never won the money title on any tour, so I’m really happy.”

The LET does not require a minimum number of tournaments to be a member, and that’s where it gets really curious.

Yani Tseng chose not to become an LET member this year, or she would have easily won the money title. Tseng, the No. 1 player in women’s golf, won four of the five tournaments she played on the European schedule.

Tseng won the Women’s Australian Open and the Australian Masters to start the year. She captured her second consecutive Women’s British Open at Carnoustie, and then won a fourth LET event at the Suzhou Taihu Ladies Open in China. Had she been an LET member, she would have won the money title by about $160,000.

Tseng won the LPGA money list with $2.9 million, more than the next two players behind her.

Ernie Huang, her agent in California, said Tseng was automatically eligible to become an LET member when she won the Women’s British Open last year.

“She elected not to be a member,” he said. “Somehow, she feels she doesn’t want to be a member there. Maybe down the road she will.”

Luke Donald became the first male to win the money title on the European and American tours in the same season, though both tours require a minimum number of starts – 15 for the PGA Tour, 13 for the European Tour.

If not for the minimum requirement in Europe, Tiger Woods would have won its money list five times.

That the LET does not require a minimum for its members makes the money title somewhat of a farce. Making it worse is that the Evian Masters purse, along with the Women’s British Open purse, is significantly higher than everything else.

The money Hedwall earned for her four victories would not even be the equivalent of third-place money from the Evian Masters.

“It’s a shame it works like that because you should have to play a certain amount of events to be on this,” Laura Davies said before the season-ending Dubai Ladies Championship. “I know Ai has only played two events, and she is going to win the money list. But it’s a bit ridiculous. If one of the regular European tour players wins it and plays 20 events, 15 events, then it has more behind it.

“But it’s just a shame that one tournament can dominate the money list like that.”

The LPGA does not count the U.S. Women’s Open – its biggest event – toward the money list for non-members because the prize money is so skewed. That’s why Stacy Lewis did not automatically earn her card when she tied for third at the 2008 U.S. Women’s Open.

There is no greater disparity in prize money than on the LET.

The schedule released Tuesday has 15 regular LET events with combined prize money of just over $6 million. Three other tournaments that are co-sanctioned by the LPGA – the Women’s Australian Open, the Evian Masters and the Women’s British Open – have a combined purse of nearly $7 million.

THREE FOR THREE: Luke Donald made it a hat trick of awards Tuesday when he won the Golf Writers Trophy from the British-based Association of Golf Writers. Donald previously was named European Tour and PGA Tour Player of the Year.

Padraig Harrington, a double major winner in 2008, is the only other player to sweep the three honors.

British Open champion Darren Clarke and U.S. Open winner Rory McIlroy tied for second in the voting of golf writers, while Europe’s winning Solheim Cup team placed fourth.

“Any award you win gives you a great amount of pleasure, and for the golf writers to consider me as their Player of the Year means a lot, it really does,” Donald said. “These are the people who really understand golf and appreciate all that I have achieved this year.”

Donald won four times around the world, became the first player to capture the money title on the U.S. and European tours and held the No. 1 world ranking for the final 31 weeks of the year.

DIVOTS: For the first time, the Nordea Masters in Sweden on the European Tour will have a Saturday finish. It will be played June 6-9, giving players more time to get to San Francisco for the U.S. Open the following week. … Emiliano Grillo has signed with IMG. The 19-year-old Argentine is the second-youngest player to have a European Tour card, behind Matteo Manassero. He earned his card through Q-school.

STAT OF THE WEEK: Nineteen of the top 20 players in the world ranking will be PGA Tour members next year. The exception is Martin Kaymer of Germany at No. 4.

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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 ''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.”

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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.”

Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos

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.”