Energy, skill made Bradley Day 1 MVP

By Rex HoggardSeptember 29, 2012, 1:50 am

MEDINAH, Ill. – The kid from that golf powerhouse Vermont is all at once animated and antsy. He dances into and darts away from golf shots with what appears, at least to the untrained eye, a haphazard pre-shot routine that violates Sports Psychology 101.

In short, he makes coffee and, after a perfect day in this Chicagoland enclave, Europe’s best and brightest nervous.

But then Keegan Bradley has made a cottage industry out of defying convention, ascending to the game’s highest level following a humble start at St. John’s University. He won his first major – last year’s PGA Championship – in his first Grand Slam try; and on Friday rewrote another page of lore.

On a cool and raucous morning at Medinah he stepped to the first tee amid chants of “Major champion,” and laced a drive into the middle of the fairway that may still be rolling.

With his eyes ablaze he bolted down the fairway when playing partner Phil Mickelson draped a knowing arm over his shoulders. This, Lefty knew, was to be savored and he wanted to make sure his youthful thoroughbred didn’t miss a chill.

Less than 10 minutes later Bradley charged in a 20-footer at the second hole in the American duo’s Day 1 foursome match against Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia and never looked back.

Bradley and Mickelson would win that match handily, 4 and 3, ending a perfect partnership for the Europeans and the Spaniard’s perfect Ryder Cup foursome record.

Mickelson has been here before. In 2008 he took Anthony Kim under his wing and they went 1-1-1. But this was different. This was surreal as the rookie answered every challenge with even more zeal.

The “rookie” made a 6-footer for par at the fourth for a half, a 7-footer for birdie at the 10th to keep the match all square and hit his approach at the 13th to 18 feet to give the U.S. tandem a 2-up lead.

Jim McLean, Bradley’s south Florida-based swing coach, knew the second-year Tour player had the DNA to play the Ryder Cup but to dominate an event that regularly reduces grown men to tears, well, that was something else altogether.

“There’s a difference between being fearful and being nervous,” McLean figured. “And he lives for these big moments.”

That Bradley would walk in the winner from 25 feet at the 15th hole, and give the U.S. side its first points, was apropos. That U.S. captain Davis Love III had no problem marching his high-energy tandem back out in fourball play was also no surprise. That Bradley and Mickelson would win their first three holes in the matinee against Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell, considered Europe’s first-line pairing, was deafening.

Bradley fist-pumped and rolled in every putt that mattered, 30,000 fans shook leaves off trees and the Europeans heard it all.

All told, Bradley and Mickelson won seven consecutive holes, the last four in their morning match and the first three in the second half of the doubleheader.

There was a theory this week that, like things used to be with Tiger Woods, an American victory over world No. 1 McIlroy would feel like a two-point swing. As Bradley and Mickelson rolled to a 4-up advantage before the turn it felt much more than that.

The Europeans rallied, cutting the lead to two holes with four to play, and the Americans answered in the form of a 7-iron from Lefty at the 17th that never left the flag. The crowd and Bradley went nuts.

“Oh baby, I wish I could go 36 (holes) more,” Bradley gushed, adrenaline coursing through his 6-foot-3 frame, when asked how he felt after his side’s 2-and-1 takedown of the Northern Irishmen that helped stake the United States to a 5-3 Day 1 advantage.

Bradley’s play on a fall Friday was inspiring, but it was his unbridled energy that sent the Medinah masses and, more importantly, Mickelson into a frenzy.

At this year’s U.S. Open Mickelson talked about needing to find the motivation to bring out his best. At Pebble Beach in the spring a Sunday pairing with Woods was the tonic. At Medinah it was the “Energizer Bradley.”

“There's a really simple reason why Keegan is perfect for the Ryder Cup,” said Mickelson, who has a regular Wednesday game with Bradley on Tour.

“It's because the more pressure the situation, the better he plays; the better he sees the shot; the better he focuses; and the better the result, and there's no more pressure situation, no higher pressure situation than the Ryder Cup.”

At the 15th hole late Friday afternoon in fourball play Bradley did a pirouette when his eagle putt slipped by the hole, and he chest-bumped Mickelson so hard during the morning game, Love may have been momentarily concerned for his safety.

He rolled in putts, pounded his chest, shouted and inspired a 42-year-old to play like it matters. You don’t hand out MVP awards after the first period, but at this pace the Man of the Match is the baby-faced Bradley.

Before McLean left Chicago this week he left a note in Bradley’s locker that read, in part, “draw energy from the crowd and don’t rush.”

At this pace it seems the only concern Bradley should have is that he may miss something in the beautiful blur. A guy that never slows down should remember, performances like this should be savored.

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Watch: Koepka highlights from the Travelers

By Golf Channel DigitalJune 21, 2018, 3:30 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.

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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.”