Notes Careful for What You Ask Q-School Update
Finchem outlined some bold goals at 'Golf 20/20: Vision for the Future.' One of them was aimed at the NFL.
'We should consider as our first goal to become the No. 1 sport in fan base, surpassing the NFL by the year 2020 and reaching 177 million fans,' he said in November 2000.
He has 14 years left, but the goal looked more out of reach when the PGA TOUR revamped its schedule and one of the reasons was to avoid competition with the NFL. Finchem either underestimated the power of football or overestimated the mainstream popularity of golf.
The next commissioner who might fall into that trap is LPGA boss Carolyn Bivens.
During a news conference last week at Trump International, the commissioner talked about moving the LPGA into the mainstream, then defined what she considers her peer groups. She mentioned the NBA, NFL, Major League Baseball, NHL -- then pausing for effect -- 'and yes, the PGA TOUR.'
The LPGA Tour is arguably the best women's sports organization because it has succeeded on its own for more than 50 years without any outside help, the way the WNBA leans on the NBA, for example. To compare it with the PGA TOUR was not a fair fight.
But if that's what she wants ...
The total prize money on the LPGA Tour this year was about $54 million. Total prize money on the PGA TOUR was $260 million.
The PGA TOUR will get about $1 billion from its six-year contract with the television networks next year, along with a 15-year deal with The Golf Channel to broadcast weekday rounds. The LPGA Tour has to buy most of its television time, and some tournaments could not be found anywhere on TV.
There were a record 11 millionaires on the LPGA Tour this year. The PGA TOUR had 93.
And the list goes on.
Five years ago, Ty Tryon became the youngest player to earn a PGA TOUR card when he made it through all three stages of Q-school at age 17.
Tryon would be a senior in college had he stayed an amateur, and it's safe to say he has endured a hard education. He again failed to make it past the second stage of Q-school last week, finishing last in Dade City, Fla.
Youth was not served in other qualifiers.
Casey Wittenberg, who left Oklahoma State two years ago and tried to earn his card through sponsors' exemptions, has yet to get his card. He bogeyed five of his last six holes in Panama City, Fla., and missed advancing by one shot.
Former PGA winners didn't have much luck. David Gossett, Len Mattiace, Neal Lancaster and Chris Smith failed to reach the final stage.
Among those who did well were Anthony Kim, who was medalist in McKinney, Texas; and Jason Day of Australia, who was medalist at the qualifier in Beaumont, Calif.
The six-round final stage starts Nov. 29 in Palm Desert, Calif.
Steven Bowditch attributed his dismal showing on the PGA TOUR to clinical depression. After getting a report from his doctor, the PGA TOUR is ready to give him another chance.
The tour has offered Bowditch a minor medical exemption, meaning he will have five tournaments next year to earn the equivalent of No. 125 on the money list ($660,898). The Australian will need to earn $649,708, for he made only two cuts in his 24 starts, finishing 76th in the Reno-Tahoe Open and 78th in the Southern Farm Bureau Classic.
It is believed to be the first time a player was granted a medical exemption without physical injury.
Bowditch had only two rounds in the 60s. He withdrew twice and was disqualified four times while going 0-for-14 in paychecks at the start of the year. But he appears to be gaining control of his health. He tied for seventh last week in the Australian Open.
His next big event will be Q-school in two weeks in California, where he will try to earn his card in case he struggles in his five events under the medical exemption.
LOST YEAR, BUT NO LOST CLAUSE
Mark Wilson agreed to donate a percentage of his PGA TOUR earnings this year to the MACC Fund (Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer). Wilson finished 156th on the money list, and he was to donate $9,800.
Instead, Wilson and his wife Amy gave $30,000, the highest donation by an athlete in the 30-year history of the MACC Fund.
'The greatness of Mark Wilson extends far beyond the golf course,' MACC Fund executive director John Cary said.
Wilson could use some greatness on the golf course next week. He goes to the final stage of Q-school, trying to earn back his card.
END OF THE DEBATE
Scott Verplank was asked for his thoughts on the new Ryder Cup selection process, and was told that points were only available next year in the majors.
Digesting this for a second, he asked, 'Is The Players Championship a major?'
One point for every $1,000 will be awarded at the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship.
Another pause from Verplank.
'Well, I guess that confirms it then,' he said. 'There's only four majors.'
Annika Sorenstam, Lorena Ochoa and the rest of the players at the Women's British Open won't have to worry about any 'No Women Allowed' signs greeting them in the clubhouse or locker room at St. Andrews. R&A chief Peter Dawson told The Daily Telegraph last week that they will be allowed wherever the men are at the British Open. 'They can use the facilities to whatever extent they wish,' Dawson said. 'There will no restrictions. And if they want any of the rooms for special functions, they can have them.' It will be the first time the Women's British Open is held on the Old Course. ... Sophie Gustafson earned life membership on the Ladies European Tour by accumulating 20 points through 12 victories, two money titles and five Solheim Cup teams. ... Billy Casper is returning from a five-year hiatus and will play the Father-Son Challenge on Dec. 2-3 outside Orlando, Fla.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Three players shot 60 on the PGA TOUR, the most in any one season, but none of those players went on to win the tournament: Pat Perez (Bob Hope Classic), Arron Oberholser (Byron Nelson Championship) and Justin Rose (Disney).
'To be a professional (golfer), you have to spend five years on the practice tee hitting balls. If you're a golf architect, you have to spend at least five years in the dirt and on a bulldozer.' -- Robert Trent Jones Jr., on Tiger Woods getting into the golf course design business.
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Lincicome grouped with two rookies in Barbasol
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.
Lincicome thrilled by reception from male pros
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.”
Stunner: Inbee Park steps aside for Int. Crown
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.
Na: I can admit, 'I went through the yips'
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.”
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.”