Mickelson, Bradley tied for Northern Trust lead

By Doug FergusonFebruary 19, 2012, 12:57 am

LOS ANGELES – One shot clipped an ash tree and kept Phil Mickelson out of worse trouble than he was in. Another landed behind a Bottle Brush, blocking his path to the 10th green at Riviera. On yet another hole, Mickelson had to thread a 9-iron through the limbs of five eucalyptus trees.

So when he walked into the gallery to find his tee shot on the 15th hole and saw a man flat on his back, Mickelson assumed the worst.

“It wouldn’t be the first time, so I thought for sure I took him out,” Mickelson said Saturday.

Instead, the spectator was being still because the ball was inside the hem of his shorts.

Despite all these adventures, Mickelson managed a 1-under 70 on Saturday to share the lead with PGA champion Keegan Bradley in the Northern Trust Open.

On a day when “routine par” was not part of his vocabulary, Phil was thrilled.

“This was a great round for me because I did not play well, and I shot 1 under par, and I’m atop the leaderboard,” Mickelson said. “Usually when I win, I’ll have two good rounds, and I’ll have two rounds that aren’t so great that I’ve got to keep somewhere in it to give myself a chance.”

The last two days weren’t his best. He still has a great chance to end his West Coast swing with back-to-back wins.

The toughest part might be ahead of him.

Bradley took only five putts over the last five holes, including a 10-footer for par on the last hole that got him into the final group for a 5-under 66 and his best chance at a win since he captured the PGA Championship in August.

What made the par so meaningful was getting a chance to play with Mickelson, whom he considers a mentor. Mickelson invited Bradley in on one of his money games before The Players Championship, where Mickelson graciously showed him the nuances of TPC Sawgrass, until they reached the last green and the cash was on the line.

Mickelson told Bradley and Brendan Steele to get out their wallets, and then he poured in a putt.

“He’s a very competitive guy, but he’s very helpful at the same time,” Bradley said. “I thank him for his advice and help. But he’s going to try to beat me tomorrow, and I’m going to have to try to do the same.”

Even so, this is hardly a two-man race at Riviera.

Mickelson and Bradley were at 7-under 206, one shot ahead of Pat Perez (70), Jonathan Byrd (69) and Bryce Molder (66). Mickelson wasn’t the only player on a wild ride along the fabled course off Sunset Boulevard.

Molder one-putted the last eight greens, five of them for par. Perez three-putted from 10 feet on No. 3 and on the next hole took four putts from 60 feet on the fringe, the last three from inside 5 feet. Byrd took only 21 putts in 18 holes, courtesy of hitting only six greens in regulation.

“My short game was marvelous,” Byrd said.

Defending champion Aaron Baddeley had a 66, while Dustin Johnson chopped up the end of his round before a birdie on the 18th that gave him a 67. They were in the group two shots behind, along with FedEx Cup champion Bill Haas, who had a 68.

Johnson three-putted from just outside 3 feet on the par-5 17th and made bogey.

“I’m going to come out tomorrow and give it everything I’ve got,” Johnson said.

Twelve players were within three shots of the lead, so it could be anyone’s game on Sunday. Mickelson still likes his position.

“I was six back last week, so I would prefer where I’m at this week,” he said.

Mickelson rallied with a 64 in the final round at Pebble Beach, and to win at Riviera would make him the first player to win consecutive PGA Tour events since Tiger Woods in August 2009.

Mickelson’s only regret was not taking advantage of birdie putts, missing from inside 8 feet on the ninth and 16th holes and not giving himself a chance on the par-5 17th when his wedge rolled off the front of the green.

Nothing was more entertaining, however, than his journey into, through and over the trees.

He pulled his tee shot so far right on the par-3 sixth that it was headed for the ivy-covered fence until clipping the ash tree and dropping down. Then, instead of hitting a lofted chip that could run to the pin, he chose to chip some 25 feet past the hole, have it run up the bank and come down. It rolled 12 feet past the hole, and he made it for a par.

On the par-4 eighth, which gives players the option of two fairways, Mickelson found his own route. He blasted a tee shot so far left it went over a white fence and landed at the base of the stairs of a corporate tent. After getting a free drop, he threaded a 9-iron through five eucalyptus trees to 12 feet.

It would have been one of the more amazing birdies in his career, except he missed the putt.

He was introduced to a Bottle Brush on the 10th. That was the name of the tree between the pin and where his tee shot landed. Mickelson caught a tiny branch and didn’t reach the green but hit a skillful pitch to 3 feet for par.

“I’ll get it turned around,” said Mickelson, who spoke to Butch Harmon after his round and headed to the practice range before his private-jet commute home to San Diego. “Today was a big day because if I didn’t fight hard and make pars from some of the places I was at, then I’d be trying to play catch-up to a lot of guys.

“Now, there’s a lot of players that are right in it, within a couple of shots of the lead,” he said. “And it’s going to take a good round tomorrow. But I’m pleased that I put myself in it.”

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.”

Getty Images

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.”