Love 'perfect fit' to lead new vision for U.S. RC team

By Randall MellFebruary 25, 2015, 2:44 am

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Davis Love III didn’t see this second chance coming, either.

Back at the very first meeting of the new PGA of America Ryder Cup task force, with Love plugged in via conference call, his name was scribbled on a board among potential captains to be considered.

Sitting on his porch back home in St. Simons Island, phone pressed to his ear, Love couldn’t see his name going up, but he heard quickly enough that it was, and ...

“I was amazed,” Love said. “If I was there, I probably would have turned around and walked out.

“I didn’t go in asking, wanting or expecting to be named.”

And if you think the PGA of America handpicked Love, that it forced “their guy” down the task force’s throat, you would be wrong. After that first meeting, Love said Steve Stricker summed up the startling realization that hit former and current Ryder Cup players on the task force. It was a revelation that empowered them with the belief they could make real, meaningful change.

“Steve said, `They’re actually going to let us pick the captain,’” Love said.

That simple revelation, Love said, made all the difference in the world.

After that, there was a no-holds-barred autopsy of what was wrong with the American effort. The post-mortems went beyond the captaincy of Tom Watson, who alienated the American team with his heavy-handed tactics in Scotland last year. The examination probed lots of mistakes Americans made losing eight of the last 10 Ryder Cups.

“Some things said were harsh,” Love said.

What could the Americans learn in all that losing? That really became a focus for the task force.

As captain of the 2012 American team, Love is part of the losing legacy. While he put his players in position to win at Medinah, helping them build a 10-4 lead late on Saturday, he was witness to their total collapse as victims of Europe’s historic Sunday singles comeback.

Love says he learned a lot in that loss.

Now, he gets to put those lessons to work.

When the dust settled on the task force’s meetings, that’s ultimately what they wanted, somebody who could put together all the hard lessons learned in losing, somebody who could unite Americans doing so.

Love was named captain because he was deemed to be best equipped to execute the grand design the American Ryder Cup task force will put in place. He was deemed to be most suited to incorporate, integrate, coordinate and delegate.

In the end, the task force didn’t want a great musician trying to come up with a winning tune.

The 11-member group wanted a great American conductor, a Leonard Bernstein, to pull together gifted instruments and orchestrate a winning tune.

They saw those skills in Love.

“We wanted somebody with some past experience to work off of, rather than somebody starting from scratch,” Mickelson said. “We wanted somebody well-liked and respected, who does not have such a strong ego to where he won’t listen to a number of different viewpoints ...

“When you look at how unselfish Davis is, how much he is willing to take hits, but give other people credit. When you look at laying out a blueprint for the next 20 years, at building the foundation for future Ryder Cups, and continuity from year to year, and passing on that knowledge and sharing that knowledge ... If those are all the things you want, there is only one guy who fits that bill.”

Love got teary eyed when asked in Tuesday’s news conference what getting a second chance meant to him.

“I’m here with the same goals as 2012, but as a different captain,” he said. “I’ve got a lot more people behind me. I’ve got a lot of people in my corner.”

Love’s emotions came out when he talked about calling Lanny Wadkins, who was on the losing side as American captain in ’95. Love wants to know what lessons Wadkins learned in his loss.

“Lanny said today, `You made my day calling me,’” Love said. “That says it all about the Ryder Cup. We have to get all these guys involved, have a family that’s all pulling in the same direction.”

What lessons have the task force learned?

There will be more continuity from one captain to another in the future. There will be four vice captains on this next team. Two will be former captains, two will be potential future captains.

Tom Lehman, who presided over a losing American team in ’06, was the first vice captain named. The next three will be named at later dates.

There’s also a new qualifying system for players to earn their way on to the team. The top eight players after the Barclays will earn a spot on the U.S. team. Previously qualifying ended after the PGA Championship.

There will be four captain’s picks instead of three, and they’ll be chosen a week later. Love will pick three players after the third playoff event, the BMW, and then he will make his final pick after the Tour Championship. That way, a hot player like Billy Horschel, last year’s FedEx Cup winner, can still be a captain’s pick.

The task force will live on, too, as a smaller PGA Ryder Cup committee. That group will carry on the work of the task force, tweaking changes as needed. Love, Mickelson and Tiger Woods have already been named to the committee.

Mickelson said repeat captains could become a common occurrence.

Love connects all the dots now. As a former captain, now the current captain, as a task force member whose work will continue on the new Ryder Cup committee, Love will come to define this new American Ryder Cup template.

“Ultimately, the goal is to put players in a position to succeed as opposed to creating obstacles for them to overcome,” Mickelson said. “Davis was a perfect fit for all we wanted.”

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.”