Mickelson off to fast start in LA

By Associated PressFebruary 19, 2009, 5:00 pm
Northern Trust OpenLOS ANGELES ' With a flop shot that was amazing even by his standards, Phil Mickelson took a step toward shaking off his West Coast doldrums Thursday with his best round ever at Riviera.
 
From 40 yards behind the 10th green, his ball buried in the rough and his landing area no bigger than a hub cap, Mickelsons barely cleared the bunker and settled 6 feet from the hole to start his day with a birdie.
 
It sent him to an 8-under 63 and a one-shot lead at the Northern Trust Open, a round Mickelson desperately needed after one of the worst starts to his career.
 
Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson was focused during his opening round in L.A. (Getty Images)
It was one of the better shots Ive hit this year, Mickelson said.
 
Thats not saying much considering this was the first time he has broken 70 on the Left Coast, where Lefty has compiled 16 of his 34 victories on the PGA Tour.
 
The rest of his game also was sharp. The misses werent nearly as wild, the putts dropped far more frequently and Mickelson picked up confidence with each of his eight birdies on a gorgeous morning off Sunset Boulevard.
 
Theres three more rounds to go, he said. But I feel like Im back on track.
 
Scott McCarron, so intimidated by Riviera when he played at UCLA that he wondered if he could ever break 70, birdied his last hole for a 64 to give himself another chance at a tournament where he has twice played in the final group without winning.
 
The group at 66 included Pebble Beach winner Dustin Johnson, Jim Furyk, K.J. Choi and Luke Donald.
 
Mickelson is the defending champion at the Northern Trust Open and wildly popular in these parts, and he had a sizable gallery.
 
The photographers, though, belonged to 17-year-old Ryo Ishikawa.
 
The Japanese sensation made his PGA Tour debut before about 100 members of the Japanese media, along with a dozen or so other media curious about the Shy Prince who made history at age 15 by winning on the Japan Golf Tour.
 
He opened with two-putt birdie on the par-5 first hole before running into problems with his putter, and he wound up with a 73. Ishikawa missed one par putt from 4 feet, and three-putted from 5 feet for a double bogey on the seventh.
 
I had been nervous for 18 holes, he said. I feel like my body has been stiff all day.
 
Stuart Appleby was on the putting green, looking down on the 18th at Ishikawa saving par from the side of the hill and a circle of cameras around him.
 
This is like the Truman Show, he said.
 
The other PGA Tour debut belonged to Vincent Johnson, playing on the Charlie Sifford Exemption that is awarded to a player who represents the advancement of diversity in golf.
 
He birdied his first hole with a wedge to tap-in range on the tricky 10th hole and calmed his nerves while shooting 70.
 
That set the tone for the day, Johnson said. I said to myself, I can do this.
 
He also was one of the few players to ever drive onto the 12th green, although Johnson was teeing off on No. 11. His ball caught a tree and landed on the adjacent green.
 
It was a little embarrassing, he said. But then I hit a 4-iron into the trees, punched out short and got my par. I knew if I had anything around par, I would be playing decent.
 
Mickelson hasnt been too far away from par in his first three starts on the West Coast, where he has had at least one top 10 every year since his first full season in 1993. He missed the cut in Phoenix, tied for 42nd at Torrey Pines at 2-over 290, and had to birdie the last hole at Pebble Beach to make the cut at 2-under par.
 
He went through five buckets of balls on the range at Pebble Beach in the rain Sunday, had three good days of practice, went back to the old shafts in his irons and eliminated the mistakes that had been dragging him down.
 
When you dont play well, youre not going to rest until you get back on track, Mickelson said. Todays score, it was obviously a good round, but I didnt feel that I played immaculate. I still feel a thought its coming. The reason why the score was so low is I ended up making some putts, and I holed a chip, and I got up-and-down on every green that I missed, which is helpful.
 
He chipped in for birdie on the par-5 17th after his wedge spun off the front of the green. The most pure shot was a 4-iron on the 244-yard fourth hole that stopped a foot away.
 
Even so, nothing topped his opening hole.
 
With a hole location back and to the right on one of the best short par 4s in golf, Mickelson wanted to go in the front bunker to give himself a chance to blast it close on the 302-yard hole. Instead, it sailed over the green, over the back bunker and into rough near the sandy cart path lining the 11th tee box.
 
His flop shot with a full swing came out perfectly, landing on the collar and stopping 6 feet away. Even his caddie, Jim Mackay, who has seen plenty of spectacular shots, was shaking his head.
 
Obviously, the way to play this hole is go 40 yards long into a bad lie, he said.
 
Mickelson wasnt as forthcoming.
 
Ive played that hole very effectively the last couple of years, and have played it under par and bettered the field average, he said, pausing to smile. And Id rather not say what Im trying to do there.
 

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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.”