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Arkansas' Maria Fassi and Oregon's Norman Xiong Win ANNIKA and Fred Haskins Awards - Recognizing the Most Outstanding Collegiate Golfers for 2017-18

By Golf Channel Public RelationsJune 7, 2018, 12:49 am

Fassi Earns Exemption to the 2018 Evian Championship; Xiong Earns Exemption to the 2018 Greenbrier Classic

 Video: Alabama Women's Golf Coach Mic Potter and Oklahoma State's Men's Golf Coach Alan Bratton win NCAA Women's and Men's National Golf Coaches of the Year

ORLANDO, Fla., June 6, 2018 – Arkansas junior Maria Fassi and Oregon sophomore Norman Xiong were announced tonight as winners of the ANNIKA Award presented by 3M and the Fred Haskins Award presented by Stifel, respectively, recognizing the most outstanding female and male Division I collegiate golfers as voted on by their fellow players, coaches and golf media. Fassi and Xiong joined Golf Central live in-studio for the announcements and to receive their awards.

ANNIKA AWARD PRESENTED BY 3M: Fassi, winner of six collegiate events during the 2017-18 season, also is the 2018 SEC Women’s Golf Player of the Year and a First-Team All American. Fassi will compete in the 2018 Evian Championship, the LPGA’s final major of the year, Sept. 13-16, as a result of winning the ANNIKA Award. She has amassed eight victories in her collegiate career, and is scheduled to return to Arkansas for her senior season. Hall-of-Famer Annika Sorenstam presented the trophy to Fassi.

“College golf is such a big part of these players’ careers. They work really hard and to celebrate the best player means a lot,” said Sorenstam. “This continues what we do with the ANNIKA Foundation, to help these young girls to fulfill their dreams and keep them going on their career path.”

“It means the world to win the ANNIKA Award,” said Fassi. “I admire Annika, she’s been someone I’ve looked up to since I was a young girl. To win this award and to get it from my peers, the coaches and the media, it means a lot that they thought I was worthy of it. I don’t have words to explain how excited I am and how grateful I am to be receiving this award today.

“We have one mission left to accomplish,” Fassi continued. “We are going to be working on it all year long to accomplish our mission next May.”

“It has been a really fun journey with her, and with our team as well,” said Arkansas women’s golf coach Shauna Taylor. “To watch her win six times this year, and to do it on different conditions and different golf courses, just says a lot about her game and how much she has matured and grown since she stepped on campus.”

FRED HASKINS AWARD PRESENTED BY STIFEL: Xiong capped off his collegiate careerat Oregon with six victories during the 2017-18 season – most in school history for a single season – and finishing 11th at the NCAA Men’s Golf Individual National Championship. Xiong also is the recipient of the 2018 Jack Nicklaus Award and is a First-Team All-American. Xiong, who announced at the conclusion of the NCAA Championships that he will turn professional, will receive an exemption to compete in The Greenbrier Classic on the PGA TOUR, July 5-8, where he will make his professional debut.

“College golf is an individual and team sport with high integrity,” said Ron Kruszewski, Chairman and CEO, Stifel Financial Corp. “At Stifel, we are very pleased to be associated not only with college golf, but also with the most prestigious award in college golf, the Fred Haskins Award.”

“It means so much to win this award,” said Xiong. “It definitely allows me to reflect back and realize how much I have accomplished at the University of Oregon. To be on this trophy along with the names that are on here is a really big honor. I’m just really excited for what the future holds for me.”

Also on Wednesday, Golf Channel announced the winners of the NCAA Division I Women’s and Men’s Golf Coaches of the Year on Morning Drive. The 2018 WGCA (Women’s Golf Coaches Association of America) National Coach of the Year went to Alabama’s Mic Potter, whose Crimson Tide were the 2018 NCAA runners-up in the team national championship; and the GCAA (Golf Coaches Association of America) Dave Williams National Coach of the Year was awarded to Oklahoma State’s Alan Bratton, who guided his Cowboys to an 11th NCAA men’s golf team national championship.

Voting for the ANNIKA and Fred Haskins Awards concluded at the end of the 2018 NCAA Women’s and Men’s Golf Championships, respectively. After the votes were collected, the Fred Haskins Commission verified the votes and determined the winner. Golf Channel and Golfweek are media partners for the ANNIKA and Fred Haskins Awards. The Fred Haskins Commission, which for the past 46 years has overseen the Fred Haskins Award presented by Stifel, also oversees the ANNIKA Award Presented by 3M. Winners of the Fred Haskins Award have captured nearly 30 majors and more than 300 professional tournaments around the world.

-NBC Sports Group-

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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.”