British Open Webb Inkster More

By Associated PressJuly 2, 2003, 4:00 pm
Joey Sindelar and J.L. Lewis are among those who are playing two tournaments in one week at Cog Hill -- the 100th Western Open, and a chance to qualify for the British Open.
The Royal & Ancient Golf Club gives PGA Tour players a chance to get into the Open without having to qualify the weekend before in England.
Spots are available for the top eight finishers at the Western Open who are not already exempt, and the top seven players not already exempt from a money list that includes The Players Championship and the five tournaments through the Western.
Victories in the last month by Jonathan Kaye (Buick Classic) and Rory Sabbatini (Capital Open) have moved them to Nos. 3 and 4 on the special money list, making them a lock to get into the British Open.
On the bubble are Sindelar and Lewis, who probably can wrap up a trip to England by finishing in the top 30.
Among those who need a good week are Skip Kendall, Cliff Kresge and Richard Johnson, the Swedish rookie who moved into contention with his tie for third in Memphis.
Michelle Wie is playing in her sixth LPGA Tour event this week at the U.S. Women's Open, before she starts the ninth grade as a 13-year-old.
Paula Creamer, 16, has already played in two LPGA tournaments, while 17-year-old twins Aree and Naree Song have been playing on the Futures Tour as amateurs.
Karrie Webb has no problems with kids on tour, but she fears they might be robbed of one of the greatest joys: A real rookie season.
Webb didn't play her first LPGA Tour event until she earned her card. At 21, she won four times as a rookie in 1996 and became the first woman to surpass $1 million in a year.
''That was an exciting year for me,'' Webb said. ''Everything was new to me. I would be nervous hitting balls next to Beth Daniel or Nancy Lopez. Being in the locker room with these players was a buzz.''
Wie already knows what it's like to play with Annika Sorenstam, having been in the last group with her and Patricia Meunier-LeBouc at the Nabisco Championship.
Aree Song (known as Wongluekiet at the time) also played in the final group of the Nabisco as a 13-year-old in 2000.
''For someone like a Michelle Wie or the twins, when they play their rookie year, it's going to be a matter of, 'Now, I'm playing for money,''' Webb said. ''It's not going to be that excitement of, 'Oh, my God. I'm playing on the LPGA.'
''It's almost they know they're going to do that, and they're pretty much doing it now. They're just not reaping the financial rewards for it.''
Juli Inkster finally got the irons she wanted, giving her one week to get ready for the U.S. Women's Open.
Inkster switched to Titleist late last year, but discovered that the clubs were a half-inch longer than standard.
''I don't know why they made them longer, because I've got long arms and I don't need longer clubs,'' she said. ''I had them make standard men's length, and I feel like I can stay down through the ball better.''
She got the new clubs last week and used them for the first time at the ShopRite Classic. While she hit the ball well, she had a hard time dialing in at the right distance.
''I don't know if that was the smart move,'' she said. ''I figured if I'm going to play the Open with them, I need a few rounds.''
Annika Sorenstam doesn't plan to write a book about playing at the Colonial, where she became the first woman in 58 years to compete on the PGA Tour.
If she changes her mind, she'll at least have good notes.
''I started to write a diary in January, which I've never done before,'' Sorenstam said. ''It was a way for me to sit down and remember everything.''
She has tried to keep the press clippings and letters from those who supported her venture onto the PGA Tour.
''I'm saving all that and will hopefully put together something like a scrapbook,'' she said.
Chris DiMarco knows better than anyone on the PGA Tour that posting low numbers doesn't always guarantee winning.
Already this year, DiMarco has shot in the 60s every round without winning at three tournaments -- Sony Open, Phoenix Open and the Honda Classic.
He did the same thing last year at the Hope, Las Vegas and the Disney Classic. Two years ago, DiMarco led the PGA Tour with four tournaments in which he shot every round in the 60s without winning.
At least this year he has some company. Jim Furyk and Joe Durant also have had three tournaments with every round in the 60s and no trophy.
Annika Sorenstam knows what it's like to get burned out at a young age -- in tennis, not golf.
Sorenstam's idol was Mats Wilander, and tennis was her first love.
''Tennis is a very physical sport, and at the time I probably practiced five days a week,'' she said. ''I didn't want to do that for that long. I had other interests -- schools, guys, you name it. There was a lot of things I wanted to do.''
One of them was golf, which she started at age 12.
Davis Love III had to withdraw from the Western Open because of a neck injury. Love has been plagued by neck and back injuries for the past couple of years. ... Sorenstam has signed a two-year extension with Mercedes-Benz. The deal, which started at the ''Battle at Bighorn'' in 2001, was supposed to end this year. Financial terms were not disclosed. Sorenstam also filmed a commercial with Kentucky Fried Chicken. ... David Peoples needed only 99 putts in the St. Jude Classic. The only other player who take fewer than 100 putts in a tournament this year was Chris Riley (95) at the Honda Classic.
Bruce Lietzke became the first multiple winner on the Champions Tour this year by winning the U.S. Senior Open. He previously won the Legends of Golf.
'If I just don't have to see the money right before my eyes, I'll be fine.''
-- Michelle Wie, 13, on her goal of staying an amateur until after college.

Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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Confident Lincicome lurking after 54 holes at Founders

By Randy SmithMarch 18, 2018, 2:45 am

PHOENIX – Brittany Lincicome is farther back than she wanted to be going into Sunday at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, but she’s in a good place.

She’s keeping the momentum of her season-opening Pure Silk Bahamas Classic victory going this year.

Her confidence is high.

“Last year, I won in the Bahamas, but then I didn't do anything after that,” Lincicome said. “I don't even know if I had a top 10 after my win in the Bahamas. Obviously, this year, I want to be more consistent.”

Lincicome followed up her victory in the Bahamas this year with a tie for seventh in her next start at the Honda LPGA Thailand. And now she’s right back on another leaderboard with the year’s first major championship just two weeks away. She is, by the way, a two-time winner at the ANA Inspiration.

Missy Pederson, Lincicome’s caddie, is helping her player keep that momentum going with more focus on honing in the scoring clubs.

“One of our major goals is being more consistent,” Pederson said. “She’s so talented, a once in a generation talent. I’m just trying to help out in how to best approach every golf course.”

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Pederson has helped Lincicome identify the clubs they’re likely to attack most with on the particular course they are playing that week, to spend more time working with those clubs in practice. It’s building confidence.

“I know the more greens we hit, and the more chances we give ourselves, the more our chances are to be in contention,” Pederson said. “Britt is not big into stats or details, so I have to figure out how to best consolidate that information, to get us exactly where we need to be.”

Lincicome’s growing comfort with clubs she can attack with is helping her confidence through a round.

“I’ve most noticed consistency in her mental game, being able to handle some of the hiccups that happen over the course of a round,” Pederson said. “Whereas before, something might get under her skin, where she might say, `That’s what always happens,’ now, it’s, `All right, I know I’m good enough to get this back.’ I try to get her in positions to hit the clubs we are really hitting well right now.”

That’s leading to a lot more birdies, fewer bogeys and more appearances on leaderboards in the start to this year.

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Returning Park grabs 54-hole Founders lead

By Randall MellMarch 18, 2018, 2:09 am

PHOENIX – In the long shadows falling across Wildfire Golf Club late Saturday afternoon, Inbee Park conceded she was tempted to walk away from the game last year.

While healing a bad back, she was tempted to put her clubs away for good and look for a second chapter for her life.

But then . . .

“Looking at the girls playing on TV, you think you want to be out there” Park said. “Really, I couldn't make my mind up when I was taking that break, but as soon as I'm back here, I just feel like this is where I belong.”

In just her second start after seven months away from the LPGA, Park is playing like she never left.

She’s atop a leaderboard at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, looking like that’s exactly where she belongs.

With a 9-under-par 63 Saturday, Park seized the lead going into the final round.

At 14 under overall, she’s one shot ahead of Mariajo Uribe (67), two ahead of Ariya Jutanugarn (68) and three ahead of 54-year-old World Golf Hall of Famer Laura Davies (63) and Chella Choi (66).

Park’s back with a hot putter.

That’s not good news for the rest of the tour. Nobody can demoralize a field with a flat stick like Park. She’s one of the best putters the women’s game has ever seen, and on the front nine Saturday she looked as good as she ever has.

“The front nine was scary,” said her caddie, Brad Beecher, who was on Park’s bag for her long run at world No. 1, her run of three consecutive major championship victories in 2013 and her gold medal victory at the Olympics two years ago.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“The front nine was great . . . like 2013,” Park said.

Park started her round on fire, going birdie-birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie. She was 6 under through five holes. She holed a wedge from 98 yards at the third hole, making the turn having taken just 10 putts. Yeah, she said, she was thinking about shooting 59.

“But I'm still really happy with my round today,” she said.

Park isn’t getting ahead of herself, even with this lead. She said her game isn’t quite where she wants it with the ANA Inspiration, the year’s first major championship, just two weeks away, but a victory Sunday should go a long way toward getting her there.

Park is only 29. LPGA pros haven’t forgotten what it was like when she was dominating, when she won 14 times between 2013 and ’15.

They haven’t forgotten how she can come back from long layoffs with an uncanny ability to pick up right where she left off.

Park won the gold medal in Rio de Janeiro in her first start back after missing two months because of a ligament injury in her left thumb. She took eight months off after Rio and came back to win the HSBC Women’s World Championship last year in just her second start. She left the tour again in the summer with an aching back.

“I feel like Inbee could take off a whole year or two years and come back and win every week,” said Brittany Lincicome, who is four shots behind Park. “Her game is just so consistent. She doesn't do anything flashy, but her putting is flashy.

“She literally walks them in. It's incredible, like you know it's going in when she hits it. It's not the most orthodox looking stroke, but she can repeat it.”

Park may not play as full a schedule as she has in the past, Beecher said, but he believes she can thrive with limited starts.

“I think it helps her get that fight back, to get that hunger back,” Beecher said. “She knows she can play 15 events a year and still compete. There aren’t a lot of players who can do that.”

Park enjoyed her time away last year, and how it re-energized her.

“When I was taking the long break, I was just thinking, `I can do this life as well,’” Park said. “But I'm glad I came back out here. Obviously, days like today, that's the reason I'm playing golf.”

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Joh on St. Patrick's ace: Go broke buying green beers

By Randall MellMarch 18, 2018, 12:57 am

PHOENIX – Tiffany Joh was thrilled making a run into contention to win her first LPGA title Saturday at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, but she comically cracked that her hole-in-one might have been ill-timed.

It came on St. Patrick’s Day.

“This is like the worst holiday to be making a hole-in-one on,” Joh said. “You'll go broke buying everyone green beers.”

Joh aced the fifth hole with a 5-iron from 166 yards on her way to an 8-under-par 64. It left her four shots behind the leader, Inbee Park (63).

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

One of the more colorful players on tour, Joh said she made the most of her hole-in-one celebration with playing partner Jane Park.

“First I ran and tackled Jane, then I high-fived like every single person walking to the green,” Joh said.

Joh may be the LPGA’s resident comedian, but she faced a serious challenge on tour last year.  Fourteen months ago, she had surgery to remove a malignant melanoma. She won the LPGA’s Heather Farr Perseverance Award for the way she handled her comeback.

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Davies, 54, still thinks she can win, dreams of HOF

By Randall MellMarch 18, 2018, 12:22 am

PHOENIX – Laura Davies limped around Wildfire Golf Club Saturday with an ache radiating from her left Achilles up into her calf muscle at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

“Every step is just misery,” Davies said after. “It’s just getting older. Don’t get old.”

She’s 54, but she played the third round as if she were 32 again.

That’s how old she was when she was the LPGA’s Rolex Player of the Year and won two major championships.

With every sweet swing Saturday, Davies peeled back the years, turning back the clock.

Rolling in a 6-foot birdie at the 17th, Davies moved into a tie for the lead with Inbee Park, a lead that wouldn’t last long with so many players still on the course when she finished. Still, with a 9-under-par 63, Davies moved into contention to try to become the oldest winner in LPGA history.

Davies has won 20 LPGA titles, 45 Ladies European Tour titles, but she hasn’t won an LPGA event in 17 years, since taking the Wegmans Rochester International.

Can she can surpass the mark Beth Daniel set winning at 46?

“I still think I can win,” Davies said. “This just backs that up for me. Other people, I don’t know, they’re always asking me now when I’m going to retire. I always say I’m still playing good golf, and now here’s the proof of it.”

Davies knows it will take a special day with the kind of final-round pressure building that she hasn’t experienced in awhile.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“The pressure will be a lot more tomorrow,” she said. “We'll see, won’t sleep that well tonight. The good news is that I’ll probably be four or five behind by the end of the day, so the pressure won’t be there as much.”

Davies acknowledged confidence is harder to garner, as disappointments and missed cuts pile up, but she’s holding on to her belief she can still win.

“I said to my caddie, `Jeez, I haven't been on top of the leaderboard for a long time,’” Davies said. “That's nice, obviously, but you’ve got to stay there. That's the biggest challenge.”

About that aching left leg, Davies was asked if it could prevent her from challenging on Sunday.

“I’ll crawl around if I have to,” she said.

Saturday’s 63 was Davies’ lowest round in an LPGA event since she shot 63 at the Wendy’s Championship a dozen years ago.

While Davies is a World Golf Hall of Famer, she has been sitting just outside the qualification standard needed to get into the LPGA Hall of Fame for a long time. She needs 27 points, but she has been stuck on 25 since her last victory in ’01. A regular tour title is worth one point, a major championship is worth two points.

Davies said she still dreams about qualifying.

“You never know,” she said.