A Name to Know Asian Invasion

By Tom AbbottMarch 20, 2007, 4:00 pm
Editors Note: Tom Abbott is the host of Golf Central UK. He will be filing a bi-weekly column on thegolfchannel.com with news, opinions and his inside knowledge of the European Tour.
 
Anton Spotted:
I was walking to the clubhouse at Bay Hill on Wednesday when I spotted a tall chap walking alongside Chubby Chandler, agent to many top players including Ernie Els; the gentleman bore a striking resemblance to Anton Haig, winner of the Johnnie Walker Classic. Later in the day I saw him again standing behind Ernie Els on the range and it turned out indeed to be the young South African. Haig is part of Chandlers stable and thanks to his win at the Johnnie Walker, the 20-year-old qualified for the WGC-CA Championship at Doral this week. Chubby thought it might be a good idea for Haig to get some practice in Florida the week before and set it up for him to stay with Ernie at Lake Nona, with Els acting as a sort-of mentor; although Ernie might not want to give too many tricks away and risk being beaten by him this week! Haig is tipped to be a real star of the future and both Els and Retief Goosen were singing his praises when I spoke to them on Sunday. Despite the age gap between Haig and Els it seems they get on well away from the course. Els told me that Haig knows how to have fun in his spare time; although Im sure come Thursday itll be down to business at Doral. Haig is making his first appearance in the States and the trip has whet his appetite for more golf Stateside. He informed me in our chat on Wednesday that he has aspirations of playing a large part of his schedule on the PGA TOUR in future.
 
Edfors Follows Suit:
It seems Johan Edfors would also like to play more golf in the US. The Swede, who won three times in Europe last year having come through the qualifying school the year before, is planning to play 10 events on the PGA TOUR this season. He told me that he aims to get his card through those 10 starts and then split his time between Europe and the U.S., similar to Henrik Stenson, whos building a home at Lake Nona and will play in the Tavistock Cup next week. Edfors finished tied for 28th at the Arnold Palmer Invitational but will not receive FedExCup points because he is not a member of the TOUR. Johan will now play at Doral then head to Augusta for the MastersTournament.
 
Asian Invasion:
We should have know it when Yong-Eun Yang surprised the world and Tiger Woods with his victory at the HSBC Champions Tournament to start the season on the European Tour that this is becoming the year for players from Far East Asia. Chapchai Nirat became the third winner from the region last week with a dominating performance at the TCL Classic, a win in which he seemed to show no fear; he didnt falter, becoming the third wire-to-wire winner on tour this season. Despite his relative anonymity outside of the region, Nirat has been touted as a future star in Asia. He had an impressive rookie season on their tour in 2005, finishing second at the Taiwan Open; following that with a 21st finish on the Order of Merit in 2006 with five top-10s. Nirat comes from a good golfing family; his father is one of Thailands top amateur golfers and the younger Nirat has been playing since the age of four.
 
In Brief:
  • Tony Jacklin will return to the Open Championship this year for the first time since 2005. The winner of the 1969 tournament first retired following the 1999 Open at Carnoustie, but he returned to the Open in 2001 and then again at St. Andrews in 2005.
     
  • Valderrama will continue to host the Volvo Masters until 2010. An agreement has been reached between the sponsors, the tour and the course for the most famous Spanish venue to continue hosting the event which has been played there since since 1988 -- except from 1997 to 2001 when it moved to Montecastillo.
     
    Tom Abbott will the host GOLF CHANNEL's live coverage of the Safeway International beginning at 9pm GMT on Thursday on Sky Digital Channel 423
     
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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.

    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 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.”