Notes A Real Zinger Willie Mac Shines

By Associated PressJune 2, 2007, 4:00 pm
DUBLIN, Ohio -- One guy set a tournament record with seven consecutive birdies -- all on the front side -- and then was 10 strokes worse on the back nine. The other had a snowman and two eagles in the same round. Both shot their low rounds of the week.
Welcome to the wacky world of Mark Wilson and Jerry Kelly, a couple of Wisconsin natives who did and saw just about everything in one 4-hour span at the Memorial Tournament on Saturday.
Wilson, playing in his first Memorial, barely made the cut with rounds of 71 and 75. Not much was happening in his game.
Then, after parring the first two holes of the third round, something clicked.
'I just had one of those magical things you always dream about,' he said.
He hit his approach to the third hole 4 feet for birdie, then to a foot at No. 4. He made 15-foot birdie putts at No. 5 and again at No. 6, then two-putted for another birdie at the par-5 seventh. He closed out a record-tying 29 on the front nine with birdie putts of 20 and 30 feet.
The seven straight birdies broke the tournament record of six held by tournament founder Jack Nicklaus, Jay Haas and Jim Furyk.
'That's fantastic, holding the record at Jack Nicklaus' course,' Wilson said. 'That's an honor.'
Unfortunately for him, things fell apart on the back side. He had four bogeys in a 39, to close out a 68.
Kelly could only shake his head when asked if it was a little bit of a strange round.
'A little bit?' he said. 'Yeah, it was pretty weird.'
He played a part in it, too.
Kelly turned in 32, including an eagle at the par-5 seventh hole, and had it going just like his playing partner. But then he twice hit into the creek which meanders through the par-5 11th on his way to a triple-bogey 8.
Three holes later, after Wilson hit his approach on the par-4 14th to 3 feet, Kelly stood over his second shot.
'He skipped it in there and it just kind of kissed off my ball and gave it enough kick to the right that it went in for a 2,' Wilson said.
Wilson shot a 68, Kelly a 69. Both could be paired in the final round. Stay tuned.
Paul Azinger has been coming to the Memorial since 1985 and won the tournament in 1993. In 72 rounds stretched over all those years at Muirfield Village, he had never hit into the water in front of the par-3 12th hole.
Until Saturday.
He caught an 8-iron a little thin and saw a splash, the end of a perfectly good streak.
'I had never hit it in the water,' Azinger said. 'I shouldn't say that, because I'll probably do it 12 more times now.'
He started to hit his third shot from the tee when he realized there was a drop area -- something he had never had to use before. Azinger would up with a double bogey and shot 74.
It has been a strange week for him. Azinger hadn't hit a ball since the AT&T Classic outside Atlanta, for no other reason than he just didn't feel like it. He showed up Wednesday morning about 6:30 and was done with his practice round in 2 1/2 hours.
His week will end after the final round.
Azinger has pulled out of the Monday qualifier for the U.S. Open. He is not interested in grinding it out for 36 holes on two courses (Scarlet and Scioto) he doesn't know.
'It gives the first alternate a chance to get here,' he said.
When a reporter asked Will MacKenzie about the past few months, he laughed and said, 'Do you want 'The Adventures of Willie Mac'?'
If you think pro golfers are bland and colorless, then you haven't been introduced to MacKenzie.
The 32-year-old North Carolinian has led a nomad's existence -- living in a snow cave in Alaska, surfing in Costa Rica and working as a kayak guide in the whitewater rapids of West Virginia. He gave up golf when he was 14 and didn't pick it up again for a decade, falling back in love with the game after watching Payne Stewart win the 1999 U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2.
After his round of 7-under 65 put him at 11 under and near the lead, MacKenzie displayed his unique approach to life.
On hanging around with Tiger Woods during a suspension of play: 'He puts off a nice vibe. He's the man. Unbelievable. He's the best player to play the game, possibly, in my era. I barely said two words.'
On being seven shots ahead of Woods through 54 holes: 'It's great. He'll probably shoot about a 58 tomorrow. He's really good. He loves to come back.'
On what else he did during the break: 'I just ate a lot of shrimp and I'm also going to get some alligator belts from my friend Camilo Villegas. ... I don't necessarily agree with killing alligators, but I am getting some alligator belts from Colombia.'
On what people in the gallery say to him: 'They say, 'Let's go kayaking, Willie Mac! Paddling! Let's drop off a cliff!' That's cool. Whatever.'
Jason Bohn withdrew because of a rib injury after making the cut with rounds of 72 and 71. ... Charles Howell III had three double bogeys in a round of 80. ... Woods has hit 67 percent of the fairways and has been on in regulation 74 percent of the time, but is averaging 30 putts a round. ... Play was suspended for 2 hours, 32 minutes, the 32nd time a round had been suspended, delayed or canceled in the tournament's 32 years.
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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.”