Life on the bubble

By Rex HoggardOctober 23, 2011, 10:02 pm

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – With apologies to those with weak constitutions the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic was about throwing up – raw, unabashed vomiting of the literal and metaphorical varieties.

Gag Sunday began in the PGA Tour’s fitness trailer for James Driscoll, the top-125 poster child entering the week and as honest a customer as one can find in the play-for-pay set.

“I threw up four times this morning,” Driscoll revealed following his Sunday round at Disney. “I’m not sure if it was nerves or something I ate. I think it could have been a combination of the two.

Or maybe it was something that has been eating away at Driscoll and the other members of the year-ending cash crunch for weeks: Ten months and mountains of missed chances always come down to the bitter end for the likes of Driscoll.

Driscoll rallied from his sickly start, signed for 68 to tie for 12th and finished 114th in earnings.

“If you’re going to throw up it’s better to do it before the round than during it,” reasoned D.J. Trahan, who shot 70 with a 22-footer for birdie at the last to land the final 2012 card at 125th in earnings.

Steven Bowditch didn’t make any impromptu trips to the restroom before or after his round. Instead he saved his throwing up for his closing nine at Disney’s Magnolia Course, carding four bogeys and three birdies over his final loop for a 72 that dropped him outside the top 125 (he was projected at 120th following a birdie at the 10th hole) to 132nd and back to Q-School.

In Bowditch’s defense, the Australian was playing with a broken bone in his hand. Really, he broke the bone in his pinkie finger last Friday when a valet at Sea Island Resort accidentally slammed a car door on his right hand.

Bowditch was told by three doctors that if he could withstand the pain he could play, although he was initially advised he would be in a cast for four weeks.

“I had to think about the top 125-150,” said Bowditch, who began the week 135th on the money list. “I was close to pulling out on Saturday after I hit my tee shot at No. 12. The pain just shot up my arm.”

On Sunday the pain was spread evenly throughout a field fighting all manner of cash demons.

Driscoll may have thrown up before his round, but Sunghoon Kang had the pale, sickly look of a man about to hurl as he awaited his money-list fate. The Korean darted between the scoring hut and the 18th green for 30 minutes trying to figure out if he was headed for Q-School or Hawaii to start next season.

When Kevin Chappell’s birdie attempt at the last slipped past the hole Kang’s shoulders slumped and he allowed a long-awaited exhale. “I’m dreaming right now,” he said. “I was really nervous. If I had a bad day today . . . you never know. One day can’t change my life but . . .”

Luke Donald, who was playing only for history, may have had the biggest day of his career. Trailing Webb Simpson by $363,000 to start the week, the Englishman’s quest to become the first dual-member to win both the PGA Tour and European Tour money titles seemed to stall when Simpson birdied the eighth and Donald bogeyed for a two-stroke swing in what amounted to a match-play money race.

But Donald did what top-ranked players do, pouring in six consecutive birdies starting at the 10th hole to cruise to his second Tour victory of 2011 and the cash crown.

“When you’re playing with the best player in the world and he makes six straight birdies it’s tough to beat,” said Simpson, who finished tied for sixth place for his seventh top-10 showing in his last nine starts.

In retrospect the only thing East Lake decided is which millionaire inched closer to early retirement. But the real money drama at Disney wasn’t measured in millions, it was measured in pocket change. At one point on Sunday the difference between relative heartbreak and heroics was $142. That’s the advantage projected No. 125 Roland Thatcher had over projected No. 126 Trahan, at least for a moment.

Truth is, following the action was dizzying enough to make one queasy. Early during a picture-perfect afternoon Bobby Gates, No. 124 to begin the week, double-bogeyed the fifth hole to drop to No. 125 in projected earnings. Four holes and an untimely three-putt at the ninth later (he started on the 10th hole) there was nothing theoretical about his position – 126th.

“Me and James (Driscoll) talked about it at the beginning of the week. We could finish fifth and sixth and someone could finish first, second and third and beat us,” said Gates following his closing 71. “This is the hardest part. Tom Petty wrote his song about it, ‘the waiting is the hardest part.’ At the end of the day you hope you’ve done enough.”

Waiting is all Thatcher had left to do on Sunday after missing the cut and he spent much of the day teetering at 125th in earnings. It was a cruel twist that Thatcher’s card dreams were dashed by Kang in the third-to-last group.

Kang’s birdie at the last pushed him to 120th on the money list and dropped Thatcher outside top-125 nirvana. It’s the second consecutive year Thatcher’s Tour status was decided on the last week of the season.

It was all enough to make the rank and file consider loading up on barf bags, or stock up on Dramamine patches, before Disney’s final turn.

“They say Bobby Jones used to throw up before he teed off in every tournament,” Trahan said. “If that’s the case we should all stick our hand down our throats.”

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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 jarrodlylegolf.com. ''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.”