Notes Golf not a big mans game at Sony

By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2009, 5:00 pm
2007 Sony OpenHONOLULU ' Golf has been trending toward a big mans game, and one need only look at the biggest stars for evidence.
 
Of the top 10 players in the world who have won majors, Tiger Woods and Padraig Harrington are the shortest at 6-foot-1. Ernie Els, Vijay Singh and Phil Mickelson are all over 6-foot-3 and could suit up as linebackers. Geoff Ogilvy is a little more slender, but still a presence at 6-foot-2.
 
Thats what made the leaderboard at the Sony Open going into final round Sunday so unusual.
 
Only one of the top nine players was a 6-footer ' George McNeill, barely. The leader was Zach Johnson, known for laying up at all the par 5s when he won the Masters. He is listed at a generous 5-foot-11, proving golfs media guides arent much different from other sports.
 
One shot behind was 5-foot-10 David Toms, who laid up on the par-4 18th when he won the 2001 PGA at Atlanta Athletic Club. He was joined by Nathan Green, Brian Gay and Shigeki Maruyama, all of whom are a few inches short of 6 feet.
 
And chasing them is Tadd Fujikawa, the 5-foot-1 senior in high school. Fujikawa played Saturday with 6-foot-2 rookie Matthew Borchert, and nearly had to leave his feet for a high-five when Borchert made birdie on the 16th.
 
It wasnt many years ago where short wasnt that bad of a thing in golf, Toms said. It seems like everybody is getting bigger and taller and stronger, and the game has kind of gone that way.
 
Even now, height is not a prerequisite for winning, for the list of major champions this decade include Trevor Immelman and Mike Weir at the Masters, Toms and Rich Beem at the PGA Championship.
 
Power always helps (Jack Nicklaus, the pioneer of the power era, was 5-foot-10 with legs as big as tree trunks), but not necessarily at the Sony Open. Recent winners have ranged from Singh to Paul Goydos, from Els to Jeff Sluman.
 
I hit three or four long irons to par 4s, and I hit a couple of wedges to par 4s, and same with the par 3s ' a couple of long shots and short shots, Toms said. It has a flow to it. Its the type of course I wish we played more.
 

 
THE BIG W: Turning the corner of the dogleg left on the 16th hole of Waialae is one of the best views on the course, as players walk straight toward the Pacific Ocean and can see gentle waves breaking through the palm trees.
 
There is an added feature this year.
 
Waialae spent $10,000 last year bending the shape of four palm trees to form a large W behind the green. And while Waialae isnt among the most famous courses on the PGA Tour because it is so far away from everything else, the W creates a course signature like the clubhouse at Riviera, the lighthouse at Hilton Head, the water tower at Firestone in the shape of a golf ball on a tee.
 
The palms, with the ocean as a backdrop, look similar to the scene from Its a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. There is no suitcase buried beneath the big W filled with $350,000 cash from a tuna factory robbery.
 
But a birdie might go a long way toward a $972,000 check for winning the Sony Open.
 
Paul Goydos, meanwhile, had his own W story to share when he arrived at Waialae.
 
He flew into Honolulu last Sunday in the middle of the afternoon and was hungry when he checked into the W Honolulu-Diamond Head hotel. Goydos decided to order a pizza, and he was asked where it should be delivered.
 
I told her I was staying at the W, he said. And she said, How do you spell it?
 
Goydos should have picked up a newspaper the next day. In the business section there was a brief story about how the W was under new management and had changed its name to The Lotus.
 

 
ROOKIE DEBUTS: Three rookies were in the top 20 going into the final round of the first full-field tournament of the year ' Jeff Klauk, Webb Simpson and Wil Collins.
 
Klauk is the son of Fred Klauk, the longtime and recently retired superintendent of the TPC Sawgrass.
 
Simpson, a 23-year-old from North Carolina, might be the most polished. He was a four-time All-Amercan at Wake Forest, played on the Walker Cup team two years ago in Ireland and won the Southern Amateur at Pinehurst.
 
He majored in religion at Wake Forest, in part because of his faith, but mainly because it was a pretty easy major. Then he was asked which was the toughest course he took.
 
Introduction to the Bible, Simpson replied.
 

 
MARUYAMA AND MAJORS: Shigeki Maruyama of Japan uses a translator when speaking to the media, but he emphatically answered in English ' with plenty of gestures ' when the topic of major championships came up.
 
Maruyama says he is struggles on long courses, and thats what he finds at the majors.
 
Big rough, he said, holding his hands a foot apart vertically.
 
Narrow fairways, he said, holding his hands the same distance apart horizontally.
 
No chance, he concluded.
 
Then he was told Hazeltine could be 7,700 yards this year for the PGA Championship, and Maruyama went back to Japanese.
 
Sayonara, he said.
 
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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.”