Press Pass Tiger and Phil MIA

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 3, 2007, 5:00 pm
Press PassEach week, Golf Channel experts and analysts will offer their thoughts and opinions on hot topics in the world of golf. This week, the Press Pass takes you to Kapalua, Hawaii for the PGA TOUR's season-opener, the Mercedes-Benz Championship.

Hot Topic
Should Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson be playing in the Mercedes-Benz Championship?

Brian Hewitt Brian Hewitt - Senior Writer,
'Should' is a slippery slope when it comes to making demands on players' schedules. They are independent contractors. Of course we would all like to see Woods and Mickelson at Kapalua. But the season-ending demands of the FedExCup were always going to mean that something would have to give earlier in the year.

Kelly Tilghman Kelly Tilghman - Anchor, Golf Channel:
Should is a strong word. It implies that they are obligated to do so. That is not the case with independent contractors. As long as they have the right to determine the direction of their own schedules, we must accept the decisions they make.

Kraig Kann Kraig Kann - Anchor, Golf Channel:
Yes. Absolutely they should. 'Winners Only' should mean something on the PGA TOUR. It hardly gets the FedExCup off to a great start. Yet, NFL stars bow out of the Pro Bowl citing injury all the time, and the same goes for a few (Pedro Martinez comes to mind) in the MLB All-Star Game. So let's not go jumping off the ledge too quickly.

Rich Lerner Rich Lerner - Reporter, Golf Channel:
Because there are no owners, coaches or general managers dictating players' schedules, there are no 'shoulds' in golf. Competitors are free to do what they wish and we need to respect that reality. However, it would certainly be nice if the game's two biggest stars elevated the importance of the season-opener. We understand that majors, not money, drive Tiger and Phil, and that history will judge them on Masters' won, not Mercedes'. Still, in any sport, the first game should be a celebration and ideally include the marquee names.

Mercer Baggs Mercer Baggs - Senior Producer,
Most definitely. One of the reasons the PGA TOUR implemented the FedExCup was to placate their stars (i.e. Woods and Mickelson). Normally, Im all for players picking and choosing events, but this time, the TOURs biggest stars needed to support the new system.

Hot Topic
Assuming they qualify for each one, do you expect Tiger and Phil to play in all four playoff events?

I would not be surprised if one of the two skipped one of the playoff events. If and when that happens, the TOUR is going to have an unhappy sponsor on its hands. The TOUR, meanwhile, tells us that the points system is structured in such a way that any player who skips a playoff event is taking a risk.

I don't 'expect' Tiger and Phil to play in every single playoff event for many reasons. First and foremost, they may not 'have' to do that. These two guys have the ability to separate themselves from the pack immediately. Furthermore, they have done well thus far in their respective careers maximizing their potential at select events. Even though they play less than most TOUR players on average, they win more and that could help them tremendously.

Simple answer: No. The points will have a big say in that. But if they're at the top of the list going into the four events, they'll have an 'out.' At this stage I'd say the odds of Tiger playing in all four is much higher than Phil.

My sense is that neither Tiger nor Phil will play in all four FedExCup events.

No, primarily because I dont think Tiger will have to play in all four in order to have a chance to win it. Also, Phil doesnt play particularly well at the end of the season and could be out of the race; if he is, dont expect to see him too much.

Hot Topic
Who is the most likely player to challenge Tiger for Player of the Year in 2007?

The most likely players to challenge Tiger Woods in 2007 are Jack Nicklaus and Byron Nelson. Nicklaus is retired. Nelson is deceased. Nevertheless, Tiger will be gunning for their records--Nicklaus' 18 professional majors (Tiger has 12 at the moment) and Nelson's 11 straight PGA TOUR victories (Tiger enters '07 having won six straight).

I would preface this answer by saying that anyone and everyone who wants to challenge Tiger Woods understands the magnitude of this task. The men who I think are the most capable in 2007 are Phil Mickelson, Adam Scott and Trevor Immelman. I am anxious to see how Phil kicks off his new year considering how he ended his 2006 campaign. After that tragic 72nd hole at Winged Foot, he failed to notch a single top-10 in 5 PGA TOUR appearances. Cialis Western Open champion Trevor Immelman is the last player to defeat Tiger Woods in a PGA TOUR stroke-play event and his 2006 season was so impressive that it earned him Rookie of the Year honors. He also played well on difficult golf courses. Both he and Adam Scott are major championship material. Scott is now a Players champion and a TOUR champion at the tender age of 26. Both young men have the skills and the belief in themselves to pose a serious challenge.

Obviously Phil would bring the biggest headlines. I hope it's Ernie Els. But my gut tells me Jim Furyk is a legit No. 2 in the world right now, so I'll go with Jim.

If Tiger decides to take the second half of the season off to be with Elin and the baby, then Geoff Ogilvy might challenge for Player of the Year. Otherwise, it's Tiger again.

Jim Furyk. He has risen to No. 2 in the world and now its time to show hes the best player not named Tiger. Furyk puts himself into contention more so than anyone other than Woods; theres no reason why he shouldnt win three or four times this year, and perhaps another major.

Hot Topic
A few notable names didnt qualify for this years Mercedes-Benz. Who do you expect to return to the winners circle in 2007 and make the Mercedes-Benz field in 08?

I would be greatly surprised if Ernie Els, who already has won on the European Tour's 2007 schedule, doesn't break his drought on the PGA TOUR. Hard to imagine Retief Goosen not getting back to Kapalua as well. The player they will always be rooting for a return at Kapalua is John Daly.

I'm focused on two of South Africa's finest. I fully expect to see Ernie Els and Retief Goosen back in the winner's circle in 2007. Ernie's finally on the right track after a long and arduous battle with his knee and his mind. The victory at the South African Open in December was the very medicine he needed to heal a nagging wound. Retief is too good to go another year without a victory on the PGA TOUR. I believe he was in a transitional state in 2006 and now that he has a strong swing instructor in his corner, the sky's the limit for this raw talent when things begin to click.

Ernie Els, Retief Goosen and Sergio Garcia are the easy choices. For fun, I'll add Robert Allenby, Chris DiMarco and a few surprises like Justin Leonard and Ryan Moore.

Ernie Els and Retief Goosen will return to the winner's circle in 2007 and punch their tickets to Maui for the start of the 2008 season. Also, look for Justin Rose to break into the circle for the first time.

Mike Weir. The left-handed Canadian seemed to struggle with his mechanics during most of '06. If he can work out the kinks in his swing, I think he can win an event or two, perhaps another major. I also think Ryan Moore will break out as the premiere U.S. player in his 20s and net his first TOUR win this season.

Related Links:
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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.

    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 ''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.

    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.”