Task force tabs 'PGA guy' in Love, just like old times

By Rex HoggardFebruary 18, 2015, 6:10 pm

It’s official.

Darren Clarke will lead the European Ryder Cup team against a U.S. squad led by Davis Love III. Well, Love hasn’t officially been trotted out as the 2016 captain. That will occur next week in what will amount to the most anti-climactic news conference since Tom Brady distanced himself from Deflategate.

Essentially, the only mystery that remains is why Fred Couples didn’t get his turn at the American helm? Or, in more esoteric terms, what is a “PGA of America guy?”

The notion took root last November when Couples was asked about his chances to captain the next U.S. team, “You know, I’m not a PGA of America guy.”

On Tuesday, in the wake of Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte’s report that Love will be named the ’16 captain next week, Paul Azinger – who along with Couples appeared to be the front-runners for the next Ryder Cup gig – told GolfChannel.com, “If true, Davis is an excellent choice for many reasons. He’s still connected to the players. He was very prepared and thorough in 2012. He’s a PGA guy as well.”

Needless to say, there is no formal definition of a “PGA guy.” One longtime PGA insider pointed out that Love’s father was a well-respected member of the association for years and that Couples perhaps wasn’t as detailed-oriented as the PGA would like.

Historically, being a “PGA guy” was generally described as a player in his early 50s with numerous appearances in the Ryder Cup who had won a PGA Championship, although there are numerous exceptions to that including, most recently, Tom Lehman and Corey Pavin.

Azinger, the last American captain to win the Ryder Cup in 2008, fit that description. Ditto for Love.

But that rough outline has just as many glaring exceptions. Most notably Larry Nelson, who won the PGA Championship twice, compiled a 9-3-1 record in three Ryder Cup appearances and was arguably the most-qualified potential captain to lead the U.S. side considering his status as a U.S. war veteran.

According to Nelson, he was in line to captain the 1995 American team but Lanny Wadkins suggested that he should lead the squad at Oak Hill in New York and Nelson would take his turn in 1997 in Spain.

“That to me was a done deal,” Nelson said in December 2012. “I assumed everyone would be good to their word and I would captain in ’97.”

Nelson never got the call for ’97 – Tom Kite did – or any other year.

Conventional wisdom suggests Mark O’Meara isn’t a “PGA guy” either, likely because of his involvement in the 1999 pay-for-play coup regarding the Ryder Cup which led to the PGA giving $200,000 to players to donate to a charity of their choosing.

O’Meara, who has won two majors and has 16 PGA Tour victories, has been bypassed by the likes of Lehman (one major and five Tour titles) and Pavin (one major and 15 titles). O’Meara also has more starts in the biennial matches than Lehman or Pavin, but none of that seemed to matter under the old system or, seemingly, the new structure.

Previous captains were chosen by a group of PGA executives with input from past captains. The new system, born from the 11-member Ryder Cup task force, was supposed to be different.

The task force – which included past captains (Lehman and Love), PGA executives and current players like Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk and Rickie Fowler – was billed as a chance to create a new legacy for the U.S. side.

There has been much talk about creating a succession plan for future captains and getting the current players invested in a winning formula, much like the format used for years by the European side.

“A decisive game plan is what we need to have,” Love said in early December after the task force’s initial meeting.

But that plan also seems to have remnants of a status quo of sorts.

Azinger, who was championed by Mickelson to return as captain following last year’s Ryder Cup loss in Scotland, told PGA officials he wasn’t interested in being captain again because of various “personal and business” reasons. Azinger also suggested Love, who was clearly a popular choice among the active players on the task force, but that still doesn’t completely explain why Couples didn’t get the nod.

According to one source close to the meetings, at least three players on the task force said that Couples “needed to be the guy” and in November the three-time Presidents Cup captain – a resume boost which some have suggested actually hurts a potential Ryder Cup captain’s bid – said he received numerous texts and phone calls from players saying “We need you to do this.”

Instead, the task force came up with Love, who was without a doubt a wildly popular captain with a Type A personality perfectly suited for the job.

He’s also a “PGA guy.” It seems some things never change.

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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.

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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.”