McDowell holds on wins US Open

By Associated PressJune 21, 2010, 7:57 am

2010 U.S. Open

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – There was the group of players he beat and the group of players he joined.

With his whole career in front of him and a U.S. Open title behind him, 30-year-old Graeme McDowell now goes about trying to be remembered more as the guy who knocked off Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els and not merely the latest on an eclectic list of surprising champions at golf’s most unpredictable major.

McDowell played a fourth straight round of unflappable golf Sunday at Pebble Beach and held off the sport’s fearsome threesome to prove, yet again, that a great track record guarantees nothing when it comes to the U.S. Open.

He shot 3-over-par 74 to finish the tournament at even-par 284 and beat Frenchman Gregory Havret, the 391st-ranked player in the world, by a stroke. But it was the way McDowell kept the Big Three in his rearview mirror all day long that was so impressive. Els finished two shots behind, while Woods and Mickelson were another shot back, tied for fourth.

 

Graeme McDowell
McDowell shot 74 Sunday to win the U.S. Open by one. (Getty Images)
“Just very proud of myself the way I handled myself this week,” McDowell said, after becoming the first European to win America’s championship since Tony Jacklin in 1970. “And I just can’t believe I have `Major Champion’ after my name from now on. It’s a special feeling.”

 

McDowell, from Northern Ireland, was also helped by the stunning collapse of Dustin Johnson, who also was in search of his first major. Johnson led McDowell by three coming into the day. He gave that away and more by making 7, 6 and 5 on Nos. 2, 3 and 4 en route to an 82 – an afterthought who simply tried to stay out of McDowell’s way on the back nine.

“As soon as Dustin made a triple, it was a wide open tournament,” Mickelson said. “Many guys had a chance.”

McDowell took advantage. He joined Geoff Ogilvy, Michael Campbell and Lucas Glover among the list of players who have used the U.S. Open to surprisingly break into the major-champion’s category. And that’s just the list from the last decade. The U.S. Open, with it’s punishing rough, dry greens and close-to-the-edge setups – all of which turned Pebble Beach into a beautiful monster this week – proclaims itself to be the toughest test in golf.

It is, as this year’s winning score of even par attests to, and because of that, it is a tournament that’s every bit as likely to produce a Tiger Woods or Ernie Els as a champion as a Graeme McDowell or a Gregory Havret.

“When you have Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els there, you’re not expecting Gregory Havret to be the guy you’ve got to fend off,” McDowell said.

As it turned out, Havret was the closest competition. But when he bogeyed the par-3 17th, then failed to make birdie on the par-5 18th, all McDowell had to do was hit three shots to the green on 18, then two-putt from 20 feet to seal his victory.

He made only one birdie Sunday – an eight-foot putt on the fifth hole, and his final round was the highest score by a U.S. Open champion since Andy North in 1985.

“I can’t believe I’m standing with this right now,” McDowell said, posing with the silver trophy. “It’s a dream come true. I’ve been dreaming it all my life. Two putts to win the U.S. Open. Can’t believe it happened.”

He did it with four straight days of golf that leaned more toward steady than flashy.

Woods and Mickelson, meanwhile, were the ones who put the `Wow’ into the Open, and with the resurgence of Els, there was plenty of star power – three of the biggest names taking three of the late tee times for a Father’s Day round being shown during prime time.

Woods struck the ball as well as he had since his comeback during a round of 5-under 66 on Saturday that put him in third place, a threat to win his 15th major. But when he opened Sunday by three-putting No. 1 for a bogey, then teed off into the fescue on No. 3 and had to lay up, it was clear he would be in catch-up mode the rest of the day. He shot 75.

“Our game plan was just if we shot under par for the day we would probably win,” Woods said. “The golf course was playing too hard, too fast, and you can get away from you pretty quickly out there.”

Mickelson shot his 66 on Friday when his putter got hot and looked like a real threat to win the second leg of the Grand Slam. But he fell back Saturday and his birdie to open the round Sunday was the only one he made all day. He was in catch-up mode – to the point of desperation. Trailing by three with three holes left, he went pin hunting on No. 16. Missed the green, and told his caddie, Jim Mackay, “I took a chance, it didn’t pay off.”

“All I had to do was shoot even par in the back, and I’m in a playoff,” Mickelson said. “I wasn’t able to do it. Obviously, it was tough.”

Els got to 3-under par and briefly into a tie with McDowell midway through the front nine. But his tee shot on 10 went off the course, over the edge of the cliff, matted in the thick grass that leads down to the beach. He tiptoed down the hill but never found his ball. And when he came back to drop on the fairway, he chunked it, hit that ball into the tall grass, as well, and was lucky to make a 6 from there.

Els did not stick around to talk after playing the last 10 holes in 5-over par.

Instead, it was McDowell doing the talking. He came into the tournament with five victories on the European Tour, including one in his last tournament – in Wales earlier this month.

He got into the U.S. Open by narrowly making the top 50 in the world at the deadline to avoid qualifying, which he said he probably would have skipped anyway. Good thing it didn’t come to that. He’s now No. 13 and won’t have to worry about his spot in majors – or on the European Ryder Cup team later this year.

And for all the talk about first-time flukes at the U.S. Open, he joins an impressive list of players to win the Open at Pebble, one of America’s most celebrated courses: Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Tom Kite, Tiger Woods.

And now, McDowell.

“`I’m not quite sure if I belong in that list,” he said, “but, hey, I’m there now.”

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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.”


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.”