Els happy for Scott, ready for RBC Heritage

By Associated PressApril 18, 2013, 12:26 am

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. – Ernie Els might've been the second happiest golfer at Augusta National last Sunday night when good friend Adam Scott slipped on the green jacket as the Masters' champion.

Els, who tied for 13th last week, is part of a strong field at the RBC Heritage, which begins Thursday. The 2012 British Open champion has had several close calls at Harbour Town Golf Links, but brings plenty of confidence – and the satisfaction of watching Scott win his first major championship – into this year's tournament.

Els earned his fourth career major at Royal Lytham & St. Anne's this past July when Scott threw away a four-stroke lead with four holes remaining. Els consoled Scott before hoisting the claret jug, then made sure the Australian didn't let the collapse derail him from contending in future majors.

''I've really made a point of getting on him a little bit and keeping him going forward,'' Els said Wednesday. ''We played a lot of golf and talked quite a bit. He really was motivated for it.''

Scott rallied to the top of the leaderboard in Sunday's final round, then defeated Angel Cabrera in a playoff to become Australia's first Masters champion.


Video: Preview from Harbour Town

RBC Heritage featured groups

RBC Heritage: Articles, videos and photos


It was a different sort of conversation the two shared after this major.

''Yeah, we had quite a few beers, both of us, when we spoke to each other,'' said Els, smiling. ''He's very delighted, I can promise you, that he got a green jacket and I was delighted for him.''

The RBC Heritage features 14 of the world's top 29 golfers in a week that's typically a chance for the game's best to grab a breather before the run-up to the U.S. Open. Several, including Scott and world No. 1 Tiger Woods, are doing just that. But there's lots of star power and talented golfers at Harbour Town.

Brandt Snedeker, the 2011 champion here who shared the 54-hole lead a week ago, is the world's highest-ranked player at No. 5. Luke Donald (No. 6), Matt Kuchar (No. 9) are others from the top 10 playing here.

Defending U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson, ranked 20th joins Els as current major winners here.

Jason Day, third at the Masters, was encouraged by another strong showing at Augusta National and by his countryman's victory. Day tied for second with Scott at the 2011 Masters and the two exchanged texts in the midst of Scott's demanding post-Masters media whirlwind.

Scott told Day he understood the disappointment at coming close again, yet appreciated the class Day showed in defeat.

''And I texted him back and said, 'I'm glad it was you to be the first. It goes down in history forever, mate,''' Day recalled.

Day said Harbour Town's layout fits his game and hopes to take advantage of the work he put in getting ready for the Masters.

Snedeker, who famously cried after coming close at the Masters in 2008, found himself resolved to keep improving after this defeat. He had his first over-par round of the tournament with a 75 on Sunday and tied for sixth, five strokes out of the playoff.

''I think this one is easier because I know I'm going to be back,'' he said.

Still, Snedeker had trouble sleeping Sunday night and didn't go searching TV or the Internet for accounts of what happened. ''I definitely didn't seek out the Golf Channel,'' he said.

He believes Harbour Town's narrow fairways and postage-stamp sized greens could be the perfect pick-me-up after Augusta National.

''Obviously, the drive down is a big relief after last week,'' Snedeker said. ''The breath of fresh air after the stress.''

Els will be in the spotlight this week. On Friday, tournament organizers will team with ''Els for Autism''on a number of initiatives to raise awareness of autism, highlight the importance of early detection and raise funds to help build the Els Center of Excellence which will serve people on the autism spectrum from ages 3-21.

Els' 10-year-old son was diagnosed with autism.

''It's something we want to do,'' Els said of the center. ''It will keep finding its legs as we go along.''

Els was proud Scott didn't break after the British Open loss. The two played several practice rounds at Augusta National and Els was impressed with Scott's focus. ''He definitely was striking the ball really well,'' Els said. ''He was in a very nice, loose mood.''

That proved out last week with Scott's satisfying triumph. Snedeker hopes his latest close call will lead to a major, overcoming obstacles like Scott did.

''If I keep banging on that door, it's going to happen,'' Snedeker said. ''I know it is.''

Getty Images

Lincicome grouped with two rookies in Barbasol

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 17, 2018, 9:54 pm

Brittany Lincicome will tee it up with a pair of rookies when she makes her first start in a PGA Tour event Thursday at the Barbasol Championship at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky.

Lincicome, an eight-time LPGA winner, is scheduled to go off the 10th tee at 9:59 a.m. ET in the first round with Sam Ryder, 28, and Conrad Shindler, 29. They’re off the first tee Friday at 2:59 p.m. ET

Lincicome will become just the sixth woman to play in a PGA Tour event, joining Babe Zaharias, Shirley Spork, Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley and Michelle Wie.

“The first three or four holes, I’ll be a nervous wreck, for sure,” Linicome said.

 

 

Getty Images

Lincicome thrilled by reception from male pros

By Randall MellJuly 17, 2018, 8:31 pm

Brittany Lincicome wondered how PGA Tour pros would greet her when she arrived to play the Barbasol Championship this week.

She wondered if there would be resentment.

She also wondered how fans at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky., would receive her, and if a social media mob would take up pitchforks.

“I can’t stop smiling,” Lincicome said Tuesday after her first practice round upon arriving. “Everyone has been coming up to me and wishing me luck. That means a lot.”

PGA Tour pro Martin Piller, husband of LPGA pro Gerina Piller, welcomed her immediately.

Other pros sought her out on the practice putting green.

She said she was also welcomed joining pros at a table in player dining.

Fans have been stopping her for autographs.

“It has been an awesome reception,” said Dewald Gouws, her husband, a former long-drive competitor. “I think it’s put her much more at ease, seeing the reception she is getting. There’s a lot of mutual respect.”

Lincicome, 32, wasn’t sure if she would be playing a practice round alone Tuesday morning, but when she made her way to the first tee, Domenico Geminiani was there, just about to go off.

He waved Lincicome over.

“He said, `Hey, Brittany, do you want to join me?’” Gouws said. “Come to find out, Dom’s a pretty cool guy.”

Geminiani made it into the field as a Monday qualifier.

“The two of us were both trying to figure things out together,” Lincicome said.

Keene Trace will play to 7,328 yards on the scorecard. That’s more than 800 yards longer than Highland Meadows, where Lincicome finished second at the LPGA’s Marathon Classic last weekend. Keene Trace was playing even longer than its listed yardage Tuesday, with recent rains softening it.

Nicknamed “Bam Bam,” Lincicome is one of the longest hitters in the women’s game. Her 269.5 yard average drive is 10th in the LPGA ranks. It would likely be dead last on the PGA Tour, where Brian Stuard (278.2) is the last player on the stats list at No. 201.

“I think if I keep it in the fairway, I’ll be all right,” Lincicome said.

Lincicome is an eight-time LPGA winner, with two major championships among those titles. She is just the sixth woman to compete in a PGA Tour event, the first in a decade, since Michelle Wie played the Reno-Tahoe Open, the last of her eight starts against the men.

Lincicome will join Babe Zaharias, Shirley Spork, Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley and Wie in the elite ranks.

Zaharias, by the way, is the only woman to make a 36-hole cut in PGA Tour history, making it at the 1945 L.A. Open before missing a 54-hole cut on the weekend.

What are Lincicome’s expectations?

She would love to make the cut, but . . .

“Just going to roll with it and see what happens,” she said. “This is once in a lifetime, probably a one-and-done opportunity. I’m just going to enjoy it.”

Lincicome grew up playing for the boys’ golf team at Seminole High on the west coast of Florida. She won a couple city championships.

“I always thought it would be cool to compete against the guys on the PGA Tour,” Lincicome said. “I tend to play more with the guys than women at home. I never would have gone out and told my agent, `Let’s go try to play in a PGA Tour event,’ but when Tom Murray called with this opportunity, I was really blown away and excited by it. I never in a million years thought I would have this opportunity.”

Tom Murray, the president of Perio, the parent company of Barbasol and Pure Silk, invited Lincicome to accept one of the tournament’s sponsor exemptions. Lincicome represents Pure Silk.

Lincicome said her desire to play a PGA Tour event is all about satisfying her curiosity, wanting to know how she would stack up at this level. She also wants to see if the experience can help take her to the next level in the women’s game.

As a girl growing up, she played Little League with the boys, instead of softball with the girls. She said playing the boys in golf at Seminole High helped her get where she is today.

“The guys were better, and it pushed me to want to be better,” Lincicome said. “I think playing with the guys [on the PGA Tour], I will learn something to take to LPGA events, and it will help my game, for sure.”

Lincicome has been pleased that her fellow LPGA pros are so supportive. LPGA winner Kris Tamulis is flying into Kentucky as moral support. Other LPGA pros may also be coming in to support her.

The warm fan reception Lincicome is already getting at Keene Trace matters, too.

“She’s already picked up some new fans this week, and hopefully she will pick up some more,” Gouws said. “I don’t think she’s putting too much expectation on herself. I think she really does just want to have fun.”

Getty Images

Stunner: Inbee Park steps aside for Int. Crown

By Randall MellJuly 17, 2018, 4:00 pm

There was a big surprise this week when the LPGA announced the finalized lineups for the UL International Crown.

Rolex world No. 1 Inbee Park won’t be teeing it up for the host South Koreans Oct. 4-7 in Incheon.

She has withdrawn, saying she wanted another Korean to be able to experience the thrill of representing her country.

It’s a stunner given the importance the LPGA has placed on taking the UL International Crown to South Korea and its golf-crazy allegiance to the women’s game in the Crown’s first staging outside the United States.

Two-time major champion In Gee Chun will replace Park.

"It was my pleasure and honor to participate in the first UL International Crown in 2014 and at the 2016 Olympics, and I cannot describe in one word how amazing the atmosphere was to compete as a representative of my country,” Park said. “There are so many gifted and talented players in Korea, and I thought it would be great if one of the other players was given the chance to experience the 2018 UL International Crown.”

Chun, another immensely popular player in South Korea, was the third alternate, so to speak, with the world rankings used to field teams. Hye Jin Choi and Jin Young Ko were higher ranked than Chun but passed because of commitments made to competing in a Korean LPGA major that week. The other South Koreans who previously qualified are So Yeon Ryu, Sung Hyun Park and I.K. Kim.

Getty Images

Na: I can admit, 'I went through the yips'

By Rex HoggardJuly 17, 2018, 3:35 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following his victory two weeks ago at A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier, Kevin Na said his second triumph on the PGA Tour was the most rewarding of his career.

Although he declined to go into details as to why the victory was so gratifying at The Greenbrier, as he completed his practice round on Tuesday at the Open Championship, Na shed some light on how difficult the last few years have been.

“I went through the yips. The whole world saw that. I told people, 'I can’t take the club back,'” Na said on Tuesday at Carnoustie. “People talked about it, 'He’s a slow player. Look at his routine.' I was admitting to the yips. I didn’t use the word ‘yip’ at the time. Nobody wants to use that word, but I’m over it now so I can use it. The whole world saw it.”


Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Na, who made headlines for his struggles to begin his backswing when he found himself in the lead at the 2012 Players Championship, said he asked other players who had gone through similar bouts with the game’s most dreaded ailment how they were able to get through it.

“It took time,” he said. “I forced myself a lot. I tried breathing. I tried a trigger. Some guys will have a forward press or the kick of the right knee. That was hard and the crap I got for it was not easy.”

The payoff, however, has steadily arrived this season. Na said he’d been confident with his game this season following a runner-up showing at the Genesis Open and a fourth-place finish at the Fort Worth Invitational, and he felt he was close to a breakthrough. But being able to finish a tournament like he did at The Greenbrier, where he won by five strokes, was particularly rewarding.

“All good now,” he smiled. “I knew I was good enough to win again, but until you do it sometimes you question yourself. It’s just the honest truth.”