Newsmaker of the Year No. 3: Adam Scott

By Rex HoggardDecember 26, 2013, 1:05 pm

In the April gloom Adam Scott unleashed a primal roar that was some 80 years in the making – “C’mon Aussie,” he roared into the approaching darkness.

Nine months removed from a meltdown at the 2012 Open Championship that some figured the 33-year-old might never recover from, Scott birdied three of Augusta National’s last six holes on Sunday to force overtime against Angel Cabrera and beat the Argentine with a birdie at the second playoff frame.

Had that been the end of Scott’s 2013 tale his status as one of the year’s top stories would have been undeniable, a real-time climb from torment to triumph. But the soft-spoken star with leading-man looks and a textbook golf swing was far from finished.

In fact, before Scott clipped Cabrera to become the first Australian to slip into the green jacket, he’d already made a surprising mark on the game.

In January, Scott joined Tim Clark at Torrey Pines to take a stand against the USGA and Royal & Ancient’s proposed ban on anchoring. It was out of character for both players, particularly Scott, who began using a long putter in 2011, and their arguments against the ban helped shape a debate that threatened to shred the tender fabric that ties golf’s rule-makers.

“It’s a good time to speak up and make people understand why we feel so passionate about this and why it affects not only us but thousands of golfers around the world,” Scott said during a Golf Channel interview in March.

“If they came out and said they were going to ban the short putter, I see no difference in that. How would a person who uses a short putter feel? Neither style of putting has been against the rules. It’s unfair to change the rules mid-round.”

Golf’s rule-makers went ahead with the ban but not before allowing that the rule-making process going forward would be more inclusive, a nod to a growing number of PGA Tour types who said it may be time for two sets of rules.

Along the way Scott added a FedEx Cup playoff victory at The Barclays, climbed to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking and anchored an International Presidents Cup team that is closer to relevance than many observers realize despite another loss at Muirfield Village.

But it was back home in Australia where Scott made his most significant impact.

In November he began his homecoming tour at the Australian PGA Championship on the Gold Coast, where he grew up. Scott trotted out the green jacket at every turn because “it doesn’t get seen too much down here,” he smiled. On Friday at the Australian PGA he began to understand the full measure of his Masters victory when officials held a “green day” for the fans.

“I expected to see some fans in green, but to have so many players wearing green as well ... it was very humbling,” Scott said.

He won the Australian PGA by four strokes to secure the career Australian Slam, with victories in his country’s Open, Masters and now PGA. A week later at Royal Melbourne he added more fuel to the frenzy with his second consecutive Australian Masters triumph and, for good measure, teamed with Jason Day to claim the World Cup a week later on the sand-belt gem.

The homecoming was only slightly marred when Scott was outdueled by Rory McIlroy at the Australian Open in Sydney, but that miscue did nothing to diminish his impact on the Australian psyche.

The country had been waiting for an heir to Greg Norman, a player who could transcend golf with his play and his personality. Early in his career, Scott had been dubbed the “Baby Shark” by then-swing coach Butch Harmon.

“They used to call me that when I was a kid when I first went to them because I carried on about Greg so much, but it didn’t stick,” Scott said.

Perhaps it was best that moniker didn’t take considering the depth of his success in 2013. Some suggested during Scott’s victory tour that he’d eclipsed his hero in the public consciousness as evidenced by the crowds that greeted him at every turn and golf’s new status on the front page.

In signature Scott fashion, he dismissed that idea, opting instead for a humility that was neither forced nor false.

“With Norman, I felt he was larger than life and I don’t feel like that’s what I’m doing, but I did enjoy seeing so many kids out there,” Scott said at Royal Melbourne. “Hopefully I can help the next bunch of guys come along.”

All victories and defeats are personal, but Scott’s triumph at the Masters was shared by the Australian collective and, when fully examined, appears greater than the sum of its parts. From his letdown at Lytham St. Annes in 2012 to the elation of ending an entire nation’s Masters nightmare, the full measure of Scott’s 2013 promises to transcend golf and the calendar. 

More Newsmakers in 2013:

Newsmaker of the Year, No. 4: Phil Mickelson

Newsmaker of the Year, No. 5: Anchoring

Newsmaker of the Year, No. 6: Inbee Park

Newsmaker of the Year, No. 7: Rory McIlroy

Newsmaker of the Year, No. 8: Henrik Stenson

Newsmaker of the Year, No. 9: Jordan Spieth

Newsmaker of the Year, No. 10: Vijay Singh

Newsmaker of the Year: Honorable mentions

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McIlroy: Time for Tour to limit alcohol sales on course

By Ryan LavnerMarch 18, 2018, 1:50 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Rory McIlroy suggested Saturday that the PGA Tour might need to consider curbing alcohol sales to stop some of the abusive fan behavior that has become more prevalent at events.

McIlroy said that a fan repeatedly yelled his wife’s name (Erica) during the third round at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

“I was going to go over and have a chat with him,” McIlroy said. “I think it’s gotten a little much, to be honest. I think they need to limit the alcohol sales on the course, or they need to do something, because every week it seems like guys are complaining about it more and more.

Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

“I know that people want to come and enjoy themselves, and I’m all for that, but sometimes when the comments get personal and people get a little bit rowdy, it can get a little much.”

This isn’t the first time that McIlroy has voiced concerns about fan behavior on Tour. Last month at Riviera, he said the rowdy spectators probably cost Tiger Woods a half-shot a round, and after two days in his featured group he had a splitting headache.

A week later, at the Honda Classic, Justin Thomas had a fan removed late in the final round.

McIlroy believes the issue is part of a larger problem, as more events try to replicate the success of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, which has one of the liveliest atmospheres on Tour.

“It’s great for that tournament, it’s great for us, but golf is different than a football game, and there’s etiquette involved and you don’t want people to be put off from bringing their kids when people are shouting stuff out,” he said. “You want people to enjoy themselves, have a good day.”

As for a solution, well, McIlroy isn’t quite sure.

“It used to be you bring beers onto the course or buy beers, but not liquor,” he said. “And now it seems like everyone’s walking around with a cocktail. I don’t know whether (the solution) is to go back to letting people walking around with beers in their hands. That’s fine, but I don’t know.”

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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.