Its Always Tiger Time

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 17, 2008, 4:00 pm
Editor's Note: In Backspin, the editorial staff takes a look back on the biggest stories from the past week in golf -- with a spin.
THE LEGEND GROWS: Tiger Woods battled a wounded knee, a tough U.S. Open course, a fan-favorite underdog and his own swing and somehow still managed to win his third U.S. Open Championship and his 14th career major.
Backspin Even for Tiger standards - which are already off the charts high - this week ranked way up there on the thrills and chills meter. There was Tiger's Saturday night primetime show with the pair of late eagles and his chip-in, then the mind-blowing clutch putt on the 72nd hole in regulation that forced the sudden death playoff. He finished off his week with a birdie on the 90th hole to extend the playoff and finally won the title one hole later. He was then joined by his daughter Sam and wife Elin to cap off a truely incredible week.

HEARTBREAK: Rocco Mediate battled back from a three-shot deficit to take a one-stroke advantage to the 18th hole against the world's No. 1 player only to see his hopes dashed with a bogey on the first hole of sudden death, the 91st hole in the championship.
Backspin Rocco was centimeters ' literally centimeters ' from being a U.S. Open champion on Sunday. On Monday he was one hole away from being a U.S. Open champion. Alas, what everyone knew would happen - including himself - happened. He was up against not only Tiger but the legend of Tiger as well. But the legend of Rocco was born as well this week, as the fans at Torrey - and the untold millions watching around the world - were pulling for the 45-year-old underdog to make history. He came up short, but at the same time he came up big.

REST KNEEDED: Woods admitted after his victory that he disobeyed doctor's order so that he could play in the U.S. Open. He then was vague with the press after his triumph as to when he would return to competition.
Backspin Tiger's knee will likely be a problem for him over the remainder of the year -- if not longer. We'd expect to see him at the Open Championship, but Tiger's not much on letting people in on his plans. For the sake of the game, we hope Tiger returns ASAP and as healthy as possible.

PRIMETIME SATURDAY: The USGA's decision to put all four rounds in primetime on the East Coast paid off beautifully, especially the first night of the weekend on Saturday when Tiger was featured in the second-to-last pairing.
Backspin And what a wild night it was, with Tiger producing some of the most incredible and memorable golf of his career. There was the 65-foot bomb for eagle at 13, then the chip-in for birdie at 17 and then another long eagle at the closing hole to take over the outright lead of the championship. And doing this all while being in obvious pain from his recently repaired knee. Golf fans watching the theater will never forgot that evening and those 'casual fans' who had tuned in might just put Tiger on their 'must see TV' list from now on.

LEFTY BLUES: Phil Mickelson posted rounds of 71-75-76-68 to finish seven strokes off the winning pace and in a tie for 18th. Mickelson has only one top-10 finish in the last eight major championships.

Backspin Much was made about Mickelson and his San Diego roots and his storied history at Torrey Pines, he himself calling this 'a chance of a lifetime.' After a so-so start paired with Tiger the first two days, his dream of winning a U.S. Open title in front of his hometown fans came crashing down with a disastrous quadruple bogey at the par-5 13th on Saturday. Perhaps the only good news was that he didn't have to go through another heartbreaking, near miss.

TORREYS STORY: From the fairness of the setup of Torrey Pines that the players raved about; to the excitement of all four (five) rounds; to the dream pairing of Tiger, Lefty and Scott; to golf in primetime, it could be argued that the biggest winner of the week was the USGA.
Backspin The performance by the Blue Coats this week seemed almost like a shot across the bow of the Green Jackets, bringing plenty of thrills to a major championship while maintaining a high degree of difficulty. Granted, they benefited greatly from a Herculean effort by the worlds No. 1, but hats off to the USGA for doing a fantastic job of bringing us a week of golf to remember with plenty of fireworks and drama.

BIG NAMES OUT: Some big names suffered the wrath of the U.S. Open, and failed to make the cut. For the 19th straight year there was no repeat winner at this championship as Angel Cabrera failed to make it to the weekend. Other names included K.J. Choi, 2007 Masters champ Zach Johnson, long hitters J.B. Holmes and Bubba Watson, and Europeans Justin Rose and Colin Montgomerie..
Backspin History suggests that the struggles of Angel Cabrera should not surprise anyone; with the yearly change in venue and overt difficulty of the U.S. Open, it is the toughest championship to defend. However, common sense suggests that the struggles of two of the biggest hitters on TOUR, in Watson and Holmes, on the longest U.S. Open setup should surprise a lot of people.
CALL ME ICARUS: Some recognizable names who made the cut actually found themselves in contention over the weekend and when they realized this, they promptly tumbled right down the leaderboard (see Stuart Appbley, Davis Love III, Ernie Els and Robert Allenby).
Backspin Its understandable that guys like Kevin Streelman and Justin Hicks would crumble after gaining a share of the first-round lead, but guys like Appleby, Love, Els and Allenby are supposed to be able to handle this kind of pressure on Saturday and Sunday. Fortunately for Love and Els, they already have at least one major to their credit. Appleby and Allenby dont look like theyll ever have such a luxury.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: David Dixon fired a 5-under 66 to win the Saint-Omer Open in France to earn his first career victory on the European Tour; The PGA TOUR announced last week that the AT&T Classic will not return to Atlanta in the 2009 season.
Backspin Dixon, an Englishman, began the day a full nine shots off the lead and went bogey-free for the day; All is not lost for golf fans in Atlanta as a Champions Tour event will likely replace the PGA TOUR stop.

Related Links:
Full Coverage - U.S. Open Championship
  • More Headlines
  • Getty Images

    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.

    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.”