Mickelson On Top at Hogans Alley

By Associated PressFebruary 16, 2008, 5:00 pm
Northern Trust OpenPACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. --Phil Mickelson knew immediately that he was going to enjoy this walk at Riviera.
 
Under blue skies off Sunset Boulevard, the last trace of wind was on its way out of town, leaving Mickelson and the late starters Friday afternoon in the Northern Trust Open with a second straight day of the easiest conditions. Then came a 3-iron from 247 yards on the par-5 first hole that was so true it left him 12 feet away for eagle.
 
He settled for a birdie, but that sent him on his way toward the top of the leaderboard, a position that is becoming familiar on this storied course of shotmaking and precision.
 
'I thought that was a nice way to start the round, because it wasn't an easy pin to get up-and-down from a lot of places around the green,' Mickelson said.
 
What followed was a mixture of solid shots, some wizardry with his wedges and one big putt, a 60-footer that dropped into the center of the cup on its final turn for birdie at No. 5.
 
When he finished his round with a 20-foot birdie to strong applause from the fans scattered above the 18th green, Mickelson had a career best at Riviera, a 7-under 64 that gave him a four-shot lead. He was at 10-under 132, poised for the second straight year to capture a title in the one city on the West Coast swing that has eluded him over the years.
 
'A lot of putts went in,' he said. 'Shots ended up close. It was a good day.'
 
Robert Allenby, who won at Riviera in a cold rain and a six-man playoff in 2001, ran off four straight birdies around the turn and finished with six straight pars for a 66 that put him at 6-under 136, along with Jeff Quinney (137).
 
The group at 137 included Chad Campbell, Scott Verplank and Scott McCarron, a UCLA grad who nearly won this tournament in 2002.
 
For those who faced a cold wind Thursday afternoon and more swirling breezes Friday morning, the best anyone could muster was David Toms (68) and Kevin Sutherland (69), each at 3-under 139.
 
'It was interesting, the last 27 holes that I've played with the wind and everything,' Toms said. 'You certainly had to think about it on your club selection. It made a lot of the holes play very difficult. Overall, I'll take the two rounds I've put on the board.'
 
For the second straight day, not everyone finished the round before dark. It got so bad that Charlie Hoffman had time to go to the pretzel stand between the second green and the third tee.
 
'So there will be a Saturday cut,' quipped Rory Sabbatini on his way to the 18th tee as the sun began to dip behind the hill, and players were still just making the turn.
 
The Players Advisory Council recommended this week another change in policy to a Saturday cut if the field is more than 78 players. If approved, that wouldn't happen until Florida at the earliest. Otherwise, when the cut is more than 78 players, only the closest to 70 can play on the weekend, and the notorious 'Rule 78' nearly happened for the third time in five events.
 
It came down to a 4-foot putt.
 
John Merrick, one of six players who returned Saturday morning to finish the second round, came up short of the ninth green and chipped 4 feet by the hole. He missed his par putt to finish at 4 over, meaning that 78 players made the cut at 3 over.
 
If Merrick had made the par putt, 79 players would have been at 3 over, and only 69 players would have teed off in the third round.
 
None of this mattered to Mickelson, of course.
 
Lefty is in his element on the West Coast, winning 15 of his 32 titles in either California or Arizona, everywhere from Palm Springs to Pebble Beach, from Torrey Pines to La Costa, Tucson and Phoenix. Everywhere but Los Angeles.
 
He said he is desperate to add this trophy to his collection, and someone asked him Friday if this was the one tournament he wanted.
 
'Well, I haven't won the U.S. or British Open either, and I really want to win those,' he said. 'But let's not jump ahead of ourselves.'
 
The guys chasing him were not jumping to any conclusions.
 
'If Phil is at 10 under, that's fine,' Allenby said. 'There's a long way to go. There's still 36 holes to go and a lot of birdies out there. I've made plenty of birdies here before, so there's no reason why I can't do it on the weekend.'
 
Quinney will join Mickelson and Allenby in the final group. Quinney made a late surge up the leaderboard, including birdies on the 12th and 15th holes, but ran into trouble on the last hole.
 
Four shots behind the second-ranked player in golf can be daunting, but so is Riviera.
 
'You don't have to shoot 8 under on Saturday,' Quinney said about the deficit. 'If you get firm greens and the wind blows a little bit, a couple under can move you a long way.'
 
Even so, Mickelson appears to be hitting his stride.
 
Strangely enough, Riviera had not been kind to him in the past. It was not part of his regular schedule on the West Coast, and when he did play, hardly anyone noticed. Until last year, Mickelson had missed the cut in four of eight appearances in the Northern Trust Open, and never finished better than a tie for 15th.
 
Last year, however, he was on the verge of victory until a bogey on the 18th hole and a playoff loss to Charles Howell III. Now, he takes a four-shot lead into the weekend and is as optimistic as ever.
 
'I don't know why it's turned,' he said. 'When I played last year, I felt really good on the course, and I felt I was going to play well. And I felt heading into this week I was really close to playing well.'
 
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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.”