A big first day at Am Fam Championship has Stricker, Kelly in contention

VERONA, Wisconsin | An estimated 15,000 fans took in round one of the inaugural 2016 American Family Insurance Championship. Tournament officials say just as many people showed up for today’s 1st round of year two of the Am Fam Championship at University Ridge golf course. Those that did saw Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly put on a show along with several other big name golfers.

Stricker shot a 6-under 66 good for 3rd place, three shots behind the leader Paul Broadhurst. Overall Stricker was pleased with his first round performance.

“I knew we got a good score in the first round,” said Stricker. “But it’s gonna take more of that or even better. There’s a lot of birdie opportunities.”

Madison’s Jerry Kelly also had a solid first round, carding a 4-under 68. Kelly got to five-under at one point but, like Stricker, is pleased with his performance and hopes for an even better weekend.

“I got it going early,” said Kelly. “It got the good feelings of being in Wisconsin and playing well. Hopefully I can have 36 more holes of great golf.”

Tournament Director Nate Pokrass was especially pleased with the large crowds who enjoyed near perfect conditions with sunny skies and temps in the high 70’s.

“As we anticipated, Wisconsin residents enjoy watching golf,” said Pokrass. “The crowds and their energy were fantastic. Many fans took advantage of the perfect weather to walk the course with their favorite players. In fact, some of the players said the tournament had a PGA TOUR feel.”

Tournament officials said they expect even larger crowds on Saturday, especially with the addition of the celebrity foursome of Derek Jeter, Brett Favre, Darius Rucker and Andy North. The foursome will tee off on the 10th hole at approximately 1:30 p.m., following the final group of tournament players, which includes Steve Stricker.

Here’s a look at the leaderboard after round one of the Am Fam Championship:

1 Paul Broadhurst -9 30 | 33 | 63

2 Brian Henninger -7 32 | 33 | 65

3 Steve Stricker -6 33 | 33 | 66

Kenny Perry -6 34 | 32 | 66

Billy Andrade -6 32 | 34 | 66

6 Kevin Sutherland -5 33 | 34 | 67

Fred Couples -5 35 | 32 | 67

Corey Pavin -5 33 | 34 | 67

Stephen Ames -5 33 | 34 | 67

Brandt Jobe -5 32 | 35 | 67

Jeff Maggert -5 33 | 34 | 67

Phillip Price -5 33 | 34 | 67

13 Scott Verplank -4 34 | 34 | 68

Jerry Kelly -4 32 | 36 | 68

John Riegger -4 34 | 34 | 68

Marco Dawson -4 35 | 33 | 68

Lee Janzen -4 32 | 36 | 68

Michael Allen -4 35 | 33 | 68

Jerry Smith -4 33 | 35 | 68

20 Mark Brooks -3 35 | 34 | 69

Steve Pate -3 36 | 33 | 69

Larry Mize -3 35 | 34 | 69

Kirk Triplett -3 33 | 36 | 69

Bill Glasson -3 32 | 37 | 69

Scott McCarron -3 33 | 36 | 69

Fred Couples: “I love Steve Stricker. Everything he does is first class.”

MADISON, Wisconsin | PGA TOUR Champions golfer Fred Couples was among the golfing legends competing in day two of the Pro-Am at University Ridge golf course in Madison on Thursday. Couples will take part in the American Family Insurance Championship Friday-Sunday at U Ridge.

Couples, who has been a force in golf ever since his first PGA Tour victory in 1982 at the Kemper Open, is still a fan favorite. A group of kids were asking for a picture with him while he was on the driving range Thursday. His reaction? “Sure! Come here.”

Keep in mind the driving range is off limits to the general public. And Couples needs all the practice he can get after spending most of last season and part of this one out with a sore back. But Couples not only made time for the kids and their Dad. He also spent a few minutes giving props to Steve Stricker for being who he is and for hosting the Am Fam Championship.

“I love Steve Stricker,” said Couples. “He’s been a friend forever. Everything he does is first class so I’m sure this is a great spot.”

Couples went on to talk about his longtime relationship with Stricker and explained why he’s so well liked among his peers.

“He’s very friendly and has a great family. He’s gonna be a perfect President’s Cup captain. He’s just easy to be around.”

Couples says he doesn’t know a whole lot about the city of Madison. He’s been here a couple times before for various golf events. But he’s going to take in the Darius Rucker concert at Breese Stevens Field on Friday night and will return to the Badger State to see his Seattle Seahawks take on the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field in September.

“I will  not have any Seahawks gear on. I won’t do that!”

Couples, who is 57 years old, says he will continue to play on the PGA Champions Tour as long as he’s competitive.

“If there comes a time I’m in 25th or 30th place, I can’t do that. My body is not strong enough anyone. Hopefully I have two or three more years. I keep saying that but hopefully.

Letroy Guion arrested.. again

Last week Packers coach Mike McCarthy warned his players to stay out of trouble during their time before training camp. One player, who has been in and out of trouble, apparently did not listen.  Packers defensive tackle Letroy Guion has been arrested again.

Already facing a four-game suspension to start the 2017 season for violating the league’s PED policy, Guion could now face personal conduct penalties after a being arrested for drunk driving in Hawaii.

According to Sam Spangler of KHON, Guion was arrested early Wednesday morning and charged with operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant. He was pulled over in Waikiki around 4 a.m., and later failed a breathalyzer test.

The 30-year-old Guion was also arrested in 2015 on marijuana and handgun charges, when he was stopped in Florida with $190,028.81 in cash in his truck.

Last week, during Packers mini-camps, coach McCarthy talked about how he hoped his players would stay safe and out of trouble.

“You always worry about them,” said McCarthy. “So knock on wood. I don’t worry a whole lot once you get past the 4th of July.”

Stricker excited for year two as tee times announced for Am Fam Championship (Audio)

MADISON | Steve Stricker admits year one of the PGA Champions Tour American Family Insurance Championship exceeded his expectations.

“Oh yeah,” said Stricker. “The money we raised exceeded our expectations.”

The 2016 American Family Insurance Championship made history in its first year, raising more than $1 million for charity. The total charitable proceeds of $1,089,500 was one of the highest-ever for a first-year PGA Champions Tour event. The money was distributed to the American Family Children’s Hospital in Madison, Wis., and 33 other local charities.

Stricker, who tees off on hole #1 at 9:30 a.m. Friday June 23rd at University Ridge Golf Course in Verona, hopes for more of the same this year.

Here are the tee times for round one of the American Family Insurance Championship that were announced Wednesday.

ROUND 1 | TEE #1:

8:50 a.m. —  Steve Flesch, Mike Goodes, Reidsville, Scott Simpson

9 a.m. — Brian Henninger, Mark Brooks, Steve Pate

9:10 a.m. — Larry Mize, Craig Parry, Scott Verplank

9:20 a.m. — Jim Schuman, Skip Kendall, Jerry Kelly

9:30 a.m. — Steve Stricker, Fred Couples, Kirk Triplett

9:40 a.m. — John Daly, Scott McCarron, Miguel Angel Jimenez

9:50 a.m. — Colin Montgomerie, Ian Woosnam, Nick Faldo

10 a.m. — Stephen Ames, David Frost, Woody Austin

10:10 a.m. — Brandt Jobe, Olin Browne, Mark Calcavecchia

10:20 a.m. — Marco Dawson, Scott Dunlap, John Huston

10:30 a.m. — Michael Allen, Esteban Toledo, Jerry Smith

10:40 a.m. — Carlos Franco, Jeff Maggert, Doug Garwood

10:50 a.m. — Phillip Price, James Kingston, Fran Quinn

ROUND 1 | TEE #10

8:50 a.m. — Bob Tway, Kevin Sutherland, Rod Spittle

9 a.m. — Bob Gilder, Bart Bryant, Tom Byrum

9:10 a.m. — Dan Forsman, Joey Sindelar, Jerry Pate

9:20 a.m. — Tommy Armour III, Glen Day, Loren Roberts

9:30 a.m. — Todd Hamilton, Steve Lowery, Jay Don Blake

9:40 a.m. — Jim Carter, John Riegger, Russ Cochran

9:50 a.m. — Billy Mayfair, Michael Bradley, Corey Pavin

10 a.m. — Paul Goydos, Kenny Perry, Fred Funk

10:10 a.m. — Gene Sauers, Jeff Sluman, Jay Haas

10:20 a.m. — Billy Andrade, Lee Janzen, Wes Short, Jr.

10:30 a.m. — Duffy Waldorf, Joe Durant, Paul Broadhurst

10:40 a.m. — Scott Parel, Bobby Gage, Willie Wood

10:50 a.m. — Kent Jones, Mike Small, Tommy Tolles

Alternates:

1. Bill Glasson

2. Tom Purtzer

3. Blaine McCallister

4. Danny Edwards

5. John Jacobs

6. Brad Bryant

7. Bobby Wadkins

8. Mike Springer

9. Leonard Thompson

10. Mike Reid

USGA: Spectator passes away at U.S. Open

Officials with the United States Golf Association announced early Friday afternoon that a fan attending the U.S. Open at Erin Hills outside of Milwaukee had passed away.

Their statement:

“The USGA was saddened to learn that a spectator at Erin Hills passed away a short time ago. Out of respect for the family, we are unable to provide additional information at this time. Our thoughts and prayers are with those surrounding this individual during this difficult time.”

The death is the most significant incident, but not the only one that has taken place around the tournament in the first two days.

On Thursday, a blimp taking aerial shots deflated, caught fire and crashed about a ½ mile from the course, seriously injuring the pilot.

There was also E. coli bacteria found in drinking water at a hydration station near the 12th hole, forcing organizers to bring in bottled water for the rest of the tournament.

Stricker, Niebrugge make the cut at U.S. Open

ERIN, Wisc. — Wisconsin natives Steve Stricker and Jordan Niebrugge both made the cut heading into the weekend at Erin Hills and the U.S. Open, finishing with identical second round scores (even par 72) to sit +1 overall.

Stricker update (Click for video)

Stricker talked about playing the Open in his home state after his second round, and the difficulty of playing in front of his fans.

“That’s the challenge of playing at home,” said Stricker. “You have to try to put all that extra pressure and deflect it. It’s hard because you hear it on every hole. Over the years I’ve gotten better at that. I really enjoy it and try to more than years past.”

Stricker seemed pleased with his play despite some tough conditions.

“I hit a lot of good putts.  The pins today are in areas where there’s a lot of break. So you have to be on the right side.”

Stricker also says, despite the -7 score by leader Rickie Fowler, the USGA did not change things up too much to try to make the course more difficult.

“I feel like it’s similar (to round one conditions). They didn’t go overboard. They moved 18 way back, but some of the bigger hitters will still get home in two. The pin locations were slightly harder. But nothing extreme.”

Pilot in blimp crash seriously injured

The pilot of a blimp that crashed near the 2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills late Thursday morning suffered serious injuries, according to the Washington County Sheriff’s Department.

In a press release, authorities said the pilot was seriously burned in addition to other injuries, and was taken by a Flight for Life helicopter to a local hospital. The pilot was the only one in the aircraft when it went down.

The crash happened about a ½ mile from Erin Hills where the first round of the U.S. Open was taking place. A deputy noticed the blimp on fire or smoking around 11:15 a.m. and watched as it went down quickly. Two local fire departments responded to the scene to deal with the fire and help with rescue efforts.

Officials with the Sheriff’s Department contacted the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Bureau to help with their investigation.

Steve Stricker expects to contend for U.S. Open Championship

ERIN, Wisconsin | Steve Stricker didn’t get the automatic exemption he wanted. The Edgerton native had to play his way into the 117th U.S. Open. Playing in this year’s major at Erin Hills was paramount for Stricker. After all this is the first time in the 117 years of the U.S. Open it’s being playing in the state of Wisconsin. Stricker would like nothing more that to be near the top of the leader board during Sunday’s final round.

“It’s very exciting to be here,” said Stricker during Tuesday’s news conference. “I wasn’t sure if I was going to be here but I’m very excited and relieved. I worked hard to get here. Put a lot of extra effort in playing in different tournaments to get here so all in all it worked out. It should be a great event. I go into every tournament expecting to play well so this is really no different. I’m going in trying to compete best I can and hopefully get in contention. That’s my goal is to contend and see what happens.”

The 50-year old Stricker has played well lately. He won a 36-hole sectional qualifier in Memphis, Tennessee to make it into the U.S. Open field. He’s playing in his 20th U.S. Open. And the 12-time PGA Tour winner is certainly a crowd favorite. He received a loud ovation from the Erin Hills crowd during Tuesday’s practice rounds.

“It’s overwhelming at times the number of people that are coming up to me wishing me luck. I get a pretty nice round of applause just during the practice round so it was pretty cool!”

Stricker is scheduled to tee off at 2:20 central time on Thursday July 15th.

 

 

Bucks unveil team name for new D-League franchise

We knew the Milwaukee Bucks would be outfitting a D-League team this fall and it would play in Oshkosh. Now we know what they’ll be called.

Bucks’ officials announced on Thursday that the new franchise will go by the Wisconsin Herd.

“We are proud to call our D-League team the Wisconsin Herd, which we believe will resonate with fans across the state,” Bucks President Peter Feigin said in a statement. “The Herd will become an important brand extension of the Bucks and we’re excited to watch the emerging talent in the upcoming season.”

The D-League is the NBA’s version of the minor leagues of baseball. The addition of the Herd will give the league 26 teams in 2017.

“The Wisconsin Herd is so much more than a team name; it’s a brand that embodies a group of players fighting to join the Milwaukee Bucks, along with an excited fan base ready to rally behind Wisconsin’s newest team,” Wisconsin Herd President Steve Brandes said in a release from the team. “We hope the people of the Fox Valley join the Herd today with family-affordable season tickets to watch future NBA talent.”

The new logo for the Herd will be unveiled at a special event in Oshkosh on June 22.