Lexi, Chun share Meijer lead

By Associated PressJune 18, 2016, 10:35 pm

BELMONT, Mich. - Her ailing back a bit better after treatment, defending champion Lexi Thompson shot a 5-under 66 on Saturday for a share of the Meijer LPGA Classic lead with In Gee Chun.

''I got a lot of work done to it last night,'' Thompson said about her back. ''It was hurting quite a bit, but I have it all taped up and it helped out out there today, and took my pain pills. It was better today than yesterday.''

Thompson birdied five of the first 13 holes at Blythefield in her bogey-free round to match Chun at 15-under 198. The 21-year-old American birdied three of the four par-5 holes and is 9 under overall on the par 5s.

''I just hit a lot of drivers and, if my game's on, it comes together,'' Thompson said. ''It's just a nice setting and atmosphere. It's one of our best tournaments.''

Chun had a bogey-free 65, making four birdies in a five-hole stretch on the back nine. The U.S. Women's Open champion sat out a month this year because of a back injury after she was struck by a suitcase that rival South Korean player Ha Na Jang's father dropped down an escalator at the Singapore airport.

''My iron shot great,'' Chun said. ''I was putting very well. I was so good at rolling the ball on the line. ... I'm always excited to play in the last group so I'm ready. I enjoy it. ... I play with Lexi. It's very exciting.''



Thompson's father, Scott, is with her - setting up a possible Father's Day victory present Sunday.

''That's what I'm going to try to do, but just to have him out here supporting me and basically along the way for my journey my whole life always means a lot to me,'' Thompson said. ''No more pressure because then I won't perform to my best. I'm just going to go out here, have fun, be relaxed, just how I have been the last three days. It's been a very relaxing week so far.''

Thompson won the Honda LPGA Thailand in February for her seventh LPGA title. The long-hitting Florida player, ranked fourth in the world, also won a Japan LPGA event last month. The back pain could be a major concern heading into the busy summer schedule and golf's return to the Olympics.

Sei Young Kim was a stroke back after a 65. The South Korean player eagled the par-5 11th and parred the final seven holes. She won this year in Phoenix, shooting 63-66-70-62 to match Annika Sorenstam's LPGA scoring record of 27 under. Last year, she won three times and was the rookie of the year.

''The greens are holding very well so we can play second shot very aggressive and then make a lot of birdie chances. That's a lot of help,'' Kim said. ''Great score, yeah. The fairways are little narrow, but if I keep it in the fairway, pretty sure I make birdie a couple holes.''

Spain's Carlota Ciganda was 13 under after a 66, and China's Shanshan Feng had a 65 to get to 12 under.

Top-ranked Lydia Ko shot a 67 to reach 11 under, starting the back nine with four straight birdies.

''I've just got to focus on my game,'' Ko said. ''The girls are going low so I know all I've got to do is have fun out there, be patient and hopefully make birdies. But you just never know what's going to happen, and especially with the girls going low, there could be a very low number tomorrow.''

The 19-year-old New Zealander won the Kia Classic and major ANA Inspiration in consecutive weeks this year in Southern California.

No. 2 Brooke Henderson, coming off a playoff victory last week over Ko in the KPMG Women's PGA Championship outside Seattle, had a 72 to drop into a tie for 21st at 6 under. The 18-year-old Canadian had three straight bogeys late in the round.

Michelle Wie shot a 67 to move into a tie for 28th at 5 under. She's winless since the 2014 U.S. Women's Open and hasn't had a top-10 finish in 37 events.

Ariya Jutanugarn, third last week after winning her previous three starts, was 4 under after a 72.

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.”