Enclosed 16th hole will be a test at FBR Open

By Associated PressJanuary 28, 2009, 5:00 pm
2007 FBR OpenGolfers speak in reverent tones about Augusta Nationals Amen Corner or the Road Hole at St. Andrews.
 
They use different terms to describe TPC Scottsdales signature 16th Hole.
 
Crazy. Obnoxious. Nerve-racking.
 
Theres only one place on earth, one hole on earth like that, Camilo Villegas said.
 
The 16th Hole could be even rowdier this year at the FBR Open. The par-3, 162-yard hole has been fully enclosed with grandstands seating between 15,000 and 20,000 spectators.
 
It looks unbelievable, but its going to be a circus, said Pat Perez, coming off his first PGA Tour victory in last weeks Bob Hope Classic. But it looks cool. It looks really cool, full-stadium effect. Its going to be loud.
 
For Thursdays opening round, the crowd at the 16th may be larger ' and noisier ' than the 17,000-plus expected to attend that nights NBA game between the Phoenix Suns and the San Antonio Spurs at U.S. Airways Center in downtown Phoenix.
 
The 16th Hole, which gets a lot of attention, is unique to golf, local resident Phil Mickelson said. We just dont have anything like that. To have that type of environment that NBA players or football players experience, for us as golfers to be able to experience it is pretty cool.
 
Mickelson, who won this event in 1996 and 2005 and lost to J.B. Holmes in a playoff last year, is among the favorites. This is Mickelsons 2009 debut, and he said hes confident after working with coach Butch Harmon over the winter.
 
Ive been working hard on my game, and because of that Im fresh and physically and mentally ready to start playing, Mickelson said.
 
Mickelson will be among the darlings at the 16th Hole, but he knows the crowd can be fickle. Fans let him have it when he bogeyed the hole on Saturday a year ago.
 
Enfolded by an erector-set grandstand rising from the desert floor, the 16th Hole looks like nothing else on the PGA Tour.
 
Players enter through a long, dark tunnel, blinking as they step into a sun-splashed arena. Two-story corporate boxes ' there are 146 skyboxes in all ' wrap around the tee box.
 
A grandstand banks away from the right side of the green, with more skyboxes squeezing in on the left. A 969-square-foot video board rises above the seats, partially obscuring the McDowell Mountains.
 
Its nerve-racking, that hole, Perez said. Everyone keeps saying its the loudest hole in golf, and everyone is crazy and everyone does this, so everyone continues to do more every year to make it as loud and obnoxious as possible.
 
The crowd is almost literally on top of the golfers. The venue was half-filled for Wednesdays pro-am, but many fans were warming up for the tournament, hooting when tee shots went awry.
 
The fans are crazy, Villegas said. I know theres a lot of alcohol being served there. Youre going to get people yelling great stuff and then people yelling some stuff that is maybe not appropriate.
 
Hopefully I can hit it in the middle of the green four days and dont get booed, Villegas said.
 
Holmes scored three pars and a birdie on the 16th last year on his way to his second FBR Open title. Hes clearly comfortable playing in front of the throngs.
 
With that many people around, its not going to be dead silent, Holmes said.
 
The FBR Open has a well-deserved reputation for attracting throngs of partyers who know or care little about golf etiquette. It routinely draws the biggest crowds on the PGA Tour, and a record 538,356 spectators turned out last year with the Super Bowl in town.
 
Attendance typically plummets on Sunday, as the reveling masses run out of steam and others stay home to watch the Super Bowl. This year, with the hometown Arizona Cardinals in the Super Bowl, organizers are offering free Sunday admission to anyone in Cardinals gear. Theyre also hoping to stage a large-scale viewing party but first must iron out details with the NFL.
 
Woe be unto the golfer who professes a love for the Pittsburgh Steelers this week.
 
Golfers realize they need to bring more than their clubs and spikes to the FBR Open. They also need patience and a sense of humor ' and a set of earplugs probably wouldnt hurt.
 
Its not for everybody.
 
Theres obviously a couple of (golfers) who probably dont like the noise, Anthony Kim said. But look, if you cant play in that atmosphere, dont come to this tournament. Its a one-time-a-year deal, and I enjoy it so much.
 

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    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.

     

     

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    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.”

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    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.

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    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.”


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    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.”