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Badgers Insider RJ Brachman (14:02)
WOZN Sports Reporter Cody Grant (21:38)
Milwaukee Struggles (34:01)
Questioning the GM (50:52)
VERONA, Wis. — Twice on Sunday Jerry Kelly was ready to give his version of a concession speech. Less than 45 minutes later the Madison resident was holding up the glass trophy after winning the American Family Insurance Championship.
Kelly played a great final round with seven birdies and had a one-shot lead when he stepped to the tee on the 18th hole. A birdie or par likely would have given him the win. Instead, he bogeyed for just the second time the entire tournament.
He walked off the green in a three-way tie at -15 and behind him Retief Goosen smoked a perfect shot within a few feet of the hole, giving him a perfect opportunity to break the tie and take the lead with a short putt. Kelly made his way to the media room, fully expecting Goosen to make the shot and waiting for all “what happened” questions from reporters. But then, Goosen’s putt lipped out, giving Kelly life again and he left the media area.
Minutes later, though, fellow Madison resident Steve Stricker, also at 15-under, put himself in position to win with a birdie putt. Back down the steps to the media room came Kelly, expecting the guy he later called the best putter he’s been around to knock it in. But, like Goosen, Stricker couldn’t finish.
“(I) misread it a little bit. I didn’t think it was going to break as much as it did and it just snapped off at the end. I thought I hit a pretty good putt,” Stricker said. “But, yeah, a little disappointing when you get that opportunity to close it out and have about an eight- or 10-footer to do it, you want to make it and be done, but I didn’t.
“I mean, I couldn’t ask for a better situation. I hit a great shot in there and I had nothing to lose at that point. It’s mine to win. You want to capitalize on those.”
Kelly needed both men to miss relatively close putts and it happened.
“I wasn’t going to leave (the course), but I came (into the media room) and I sat down,” Kelly said. “I was sitting right here when Goosen missed, so I figured I better come back and sit down right here when Strick was putting just in case I had to talk with you guys again.
“I wasn’t going to walk out, but it was going to be probably pretty short, I’m guessing.”
All of the dramatics led to a three-way playoff. Stricker bogeyed the first playoff hole, leaving Goosen and Kelly. They each got pars on the second playoff hole before Kelly birdied the third for the win.
“I’m thankful I got that second chance when you’re the one who kind of fails and lets guys into it,” Kelly said. “Then you feel like you’ve got that second life. I didn’t feel like I needed to go to the range because I felt like I was still pretty jacked up from watching everything that was going on. Yeah, it was kind of surreal. It was fun.”
It was Kelly’s first win in the state of Wisconsin, his first win on the Champions Tour since Jan. 2018 and his fourth win overall. It also was his first win since his father passed away.
“The chills were flying up and down. It was pretty amazing,” Kelly said. “You know, my mom saying the sun came out, my dad was there. I haven’t won since my dad passed, so this was the first one and I was talking to him all the time. There were a lot of birdies coming up and chirping right next to me and I was like, ‘Hey, hey, Dad, how are you?’ It was kind of surreal.”
This was the fourth year of the tournament and every time the winner was not the leader coming into the final round.
“It really is truly awesome,” Kelly said. “You guys know what it’s about. It’s about friends and family, and to be able to do it in front of everybody…this is pretty sweet.”
VERONA, Wis. — If Steve Stricker or Jerry Kelly are going to win their first tournament in the state of Wisconsin they’ll have to do it from behind.
The two Madison residents both trail leader Steve Flesch after two rounds of the American Family Insurance Championship, with Stricker a shot back at -10 and Kelly two off the lead at -9.
Flesch took sole possession of the lead with a birdie on the 18th hole, as he went 7-under for the day.
“I played very good the last two days actually. Hit a lot of good shots, had a lot of opportunities,” Flesch said. “So two good rounds. And it’s nice because I haven’t played particularly well here in my two previous showings.”
Everyone is chasing Flesch, including three golfers sitting a 10-under. Stricker is one of them after posting back-to-back rounds of 67. The highlight of day two came on the par-5 16th, when a perfect pitch nabbed him an eagle.
“I needed that,” Stricker said. “I’m in position to try to win this tomorrow and that’s a good feeling. There’s a lot of guys bunched up there, though. I imagine somebody’s going to come out of that pack with a good round, shoot a good round tomorrow, and that means that’s what I’m going to have to do if I want to have a chance to win.”
Kelly is also in position to win, though he probably should have been in the -10 grouping. Instead, he missed a short putt on the 17th hole that gave him his first bogey of the tournament.
“I had one bogey today. The problem is I only had three birdies,” Kelly said. “The one bogey is no big deal, but when you put it against three birdies, yeah, then it gets tougher.”
The good news for the two local favorites is that in the first three years of the tournament the person leading entering the final round hasn’t gone on to win it.
“Yeah, I sure hope so, because I’m behind,” Stricker said when asked if he hoped that held this year. “This course lends itself to some exciting finishes, I think. It’s kind of a shootout course. You have to play aggressively, there’s birdies to be made. There’s eagles you can make on some of these par 5s, they’re reachable, so a lot can happen in these closing holes. That’s what makes it exciting and fun to play here.”
VERONA, Wis. — There’s a very Wisconsin feel to the top of the leaderboard at the American Family Insurance Championship through one round.
Madison resident Jerry Kelly sits in the top spot after shooting a 7-under 65 on the opening day of the tournament. Two shots back is another Madison resident, Steve Stricker, who is in a six-way tie for third at 5-under.
“You got to feel good when you shoot the lowest round and you’re playing well,” Kelly said. “There’s no negatives to that whatsoever. Let’s just go out and do it again, two more days. (There are) no medals on Fridays.”
Kelly shot a bogey-free round, racking up seven birdies, including five on the final nine holes of the round.
“No surprise to see him up there. He always plays well,” Stricker said of Kelly. “He likes to play here and he’s played well here in years past. It’s not a shock to see him up there.”
Stricker, meanwhile, finished strong with a pair of birdies, including a pretty one on the 18th hole that had the crowd roaring.
“It was nice to get that last one for sure,” Stricker said before lamenting some other missed chances at long putts. “I hit a lot of greens. I gave myself some opportunities, but nothing really close.
“I played the par 5s well and was finally able to get that nice one at the end, which always fun to do on 18.”
The second round will get underway Saturday morning.
A return to Miller Park was not the much-needed remedy the Milwaukee Brewers (40-35) were looking for coming off a 2-6 road trip, as they fell to the Cincinnati Reds (35-38) 7-1 Thursday night.
Things didn’t go their way from the beginning, with starter Jimmy Nelson getting roughed up in the first inning. The Reds first run came when Nelson walked outfielder Nick Sanzel with the bases loaded. Shortstop Jose Iglesias followed that with a two-run single to give Cincinnati a 3-0 lead after one. Nelson would end up going five innings, allowing five runs, walking four and striking out five as he fell to 0-2 on the year.
Milwaukee’s offense was a virtual no-show for a third time in its last four games. Only Christian Yelich’s MLB-best 28th home run of the year kept the Crew from being shutout. The reigning NL MVP had two hits on the night with the rest of the Brewers combining for three.
The club has now lost four-straight games and seven of its last nine, falling 1.5 games back of the Chicago Cubs and sitting just a game up on the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Brewers and Reds will met again on Friday in Milwaukee.
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The Milwaukee Brewers finished off a poor road trip Wednesday afternoon with an 8-7 loss to the San Diego Padres. It was their fifth loss in their last six games and left them just 2-6 on their trip west.
The play of the afternoon came in the seventh inning. After the Brewers had taken the lead on a three-run homer from catcher Yasmani Grandal, Milwaukee’s defense failed them minutes later when a routine infield pop up fell between four Brewers for an infield single. Pitcher Jeremy Jeffress walked the next batter before giving up a go-ahead three-run homer of his own to Franmil Reyes.
It was part of what was a forgettable day for much of Milwaukee’s pitching staff. Starter Zach Davies made it just 2 2/3 innings, giving up nine hits and five runs. It was his shortest start of the year.
The one positive pitching note was Adrian Houser. He replaced Davies and threw 3 1/3 innings of scoreless ball, allowing just one hit and striking out four. The 26-year-old lowered his ERA to 2.35 on the season and he’s has now given up just one run over his last 10 outings.
Milwaukee’s offense did come alive following a dreadful first two games of the series when it managed just one run. Left fielder Ryan Braun had three RBI, including a home run, while right fielder Christian Yelich went yard for his MLB-leading 27th long ball of the season.
With the loss and a win by the Cubs, the Brewers fell into second place in the NL Central at 40-34.
Milwaukee will return home to face the Reds starting Thursday night at Miller Park.
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The Green Bay Packers are on their version of summer break, but a story at NFL.com is keeping them in the news.
The article, written by Mike Silver, looks into the relationship between quarterback Aaron Rodgers and new coach Matt LaFleur. It specifically focuses on the one area where there is still work to be done — control at the line of scrimmage.
As Silver breaks down, under former coach Mike McCarthy, Rodgers had the ability to change plays, especially the older he got. His ability to diagnose what the defense was trying to do, and then have an answer for it, is among the things that makes him special. LaFleur’s offense, though, is less free in that sense.
“We’re running a system I first picked up while working with Kyle (Shanahan) in Houston a decade ago, and we’ve never really had a quarterback who’s had complete freedom to change plays at the line, because that’s not really the way the offense is set up,” LaFleur told Silver. “But, I mean, this is Aaron Rodgers. He’s had a lot of freedom to make those calls, and deservedly so. Now, how do we reconcile that, and get to a place where we put him in the best position to succeed?”
Rodgers knows what’s made him successful in the past, and the ability to use his football IQ to take advantage of a defense is something he wants to hold onto.
“I don’t think you want to ask me to turn off 11 years (of recognizing defenses),” Rodgers said. “We have a number of check-with-mes and line-of-scrimmage stuff. It’s just the other stuff that really not many people in this league can do.
“That’s not like a humblebrag or anything; that’s just a fact. There aren’t many people that can do at the line of scrimmage what I’ve done over the years.”
Some in the national media are already pointing to Rodgers’ comments as an example of him not being on board with LaFleur, something he was accused of with McCarthy during his tenure. But his other quotes in the story suggest he’s excited about the offense itself and the audible part is a small aspect of disagreement.
“This offense really stretches the defense formationally and with motions,” Rodgers said. “A lot of what this offense is based in, with Mike and Kyle Shanahan and Sean (McVay), it’s stressing you with tempo and formation and motions. It’s really testing the eye discipline, especially with teams that want to play more man coverage.
“There’s so much motion and action and reverses and fake reverses and stuff that really stresses the discipline on that side of the ball — and then allowing you to get out on the edge and have some downfield opportunities. It really tests where (defenders’) eyes are going — just things happening that (they’re) not used to for a team that just lines up and plays.”