Inside the numbers: Not easy holding 54-hole lead

By Golf Channel DigitalFebruary 16, 2015, 2:23 am

By JUSTIN RAY

The most pervasive statistic following Jim Furyk, especially after Sunday's performance at Pebble Beach, is that he has failed to convert any of his last nine 54-hole leads or shares of the lead on the PGA Tour.

Furyk held a one-shot advantage over Matt Jones and Brandt Snedeker entering the final round. But with conditions ripe for low scores, and Furyk's recent final-round history when sleeping on the lead, few expected Furyk to pick up career PGA Tour win No. 17 Sunday on the Monterey Peninsula.

Furyk shot a final-round 74, and he finished six behind Brandt Snedeker.

But how valuable is a one-shot lead for anyone – let alone the beleaguered Furyk?

Since the beginning of last season, 16 players have held a one-shot lead entering the final round on the PGA Tour. Only five have won, good for a 31.3 percent clip. Rory McIlroy is the last player to convert a one-shot lead, doing so at the PGA Championship last year. Since then, five have tried, and none have succeeded.

A two-shot lead isn't much safer in that span. There have been 12 instances of players holding a two-shot lead through 54 holes over the last two seasons. Only four have won.

Outright 54-hole leaders PGA Tour last two seasons

1-shot lead: 5 wins/16 attempts

2-shot lead: 4 wins/12 attempts

3-shot lead: 3 wins/7 attempts

4+ shot lead: 6 wins/7 attempts

In contrast, there have been 15 PGA Tour winners in that span who came from either one or two shots down entering the final round.

So, in the last two seasons, winners who held a one or two shot lead through 54 holes: Nine. Winners from one or two back: 15.

Inherently, there is a higher possibility of a winner coming from behind than holding onto a lead. Obviously, there can only be one player leading a golf tournament outright at any given moment. Everyone else is trailing. Sheer numbers make someone making a comeback the safer bet.

From 1994-2010, Jim Furyk held the lead entering the final round of a PGA Tour event 17 times, going on to win 10 of those tournaments. That’s capitalizing nearly 60 percent of the time.

After dropping nine straight, his career mark with the lead is 10-for-26. Though Furyk’s streak is both surprising and captivating for golf fans, maybe he’s just regressing to the mean.

Justin Ray is a senior researcher with Golf Channel’s editorial research unit.

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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.”