Notes Record 50 Balls Find Watery Grave

By Associated PressMay 10, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 THE PLAYERSPONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Camilo Villegas dropped his club, then dropped his head. His ball dropped a few seconds later -- right into the murky lagoon surrounding the famed 17th hole at the TPC Sawgrass.
 
Villegas hit one of 50 balls into the water surrounding the island green Thursday, helping break the single-round tournament record of 45 set in 2000.
 
'That was certainly the toughest shot,' said Phil Mickelson, who made par.
 
About a third of the field found water at No. 17 during the first round of THE PLAYERS Championship and made the short, somewhat embarrassing walk to the drop area for a third shot.
 
Davis Love III, Ben Curtis, Kent Jones and Trevor Immelman couldn't even hit the green from there, needing a third tee shot to land on the 90-by-85 foot putting surface. They finished with quadruple-bogey 7s.
 
The 128-yard hole played tougher than any other Thursday, mostly because wind gusts reached 39 mph and swirled in different directions.
 
There were 12 birdies, 70 pars, 26 bogeys, 23 double bogeys and 12 'others' at No. 17. The daunting hole left many golfers shaking their head, questioning their club selection and feeling either frustration or relief as they walked to the 18th tee.
 
By comparison, 57 balls were hit in the water at 17 last year -- in four rounds.
 
'It's playing very tough out there because the last thing you want to do is try and hit a shot far enough to get to the back and then the wind die on you or try and hit one to the front and have the wind gust on you,' first-round leader Rory Sabbatini said. It's going to be a very tough test of patience out there.'
 
It's the shortest hole on the Stadium Course, and it's rarely more than a short iron. But on a windy day, it can wreak havoc on even the best golfers in the world.
 
Paul Casey set the tone Thursday.
 
He was in the first group to reach the 17th tee, and his tee shot came up short. Playing partner Charles Warren followed suit. Nathan Green landed his shot safely on, barely avoiding the entire threesome having to stop at the drop area.
 
That happened a few hours later, when Jose Coceres, Hunter Mahan and Richard S. Johnson each splashed their tee shots.
 
Love was in the next group and did the same thing, making it four in a row.
 
The gallery seemed to enjoy each of them. Of course, that's part of the hole's lure.
 
Originally, No. 17 wasn't even supposed to be an island. Things changed when the sand surrounding the area that is now the green was used to build other fairways. Course designer Pete Dye struggled with design ideas until his wife, Alice, suggested an island green.
 
Now, the island could be the most recognizable golf hole in the world. It has its own Web site, its own T-shirts and its own fans. Thousands of people come to this tournament each year not to see Tiger Woods or Ernie Els, but to see No. 17.
 
There's a huge hill in the back of the green and another, even larger, running down the left side of the hole. Fans arrive early each morning to claim prime spots.
 
They certainly got a show Thursday. The hole played at an average of 3.693 strokes, on pace to shatter the previous tournament record of 3.368 set in 1984.
 
'One thing beyond anything else that's going to make more guys hit in the water on 17 is the wind,' Jim Furyk said. 'It makes it that much more tougher.'
 
DIMARCO'S INJURY
Chris DiMarco, winless since 2002, shot 68 for his best round of the year. He did it despite a shoulder injury that could require surgery.
 
DiMarco revealed the injury Thursday, saying he received two cortisone shots in the last month to alleviate chronic pain. His left shoulder has been popping on nearly every swing, causing soreness and throwing off his timing.
 
He hopes that building strength in the shoulder will solve the problem. But he's also considering arthroscopic surgery at the end of the year to clean out some bone spurs. He said tests also revealed arthritis in his AC joint and tendinitis in his rotator cuff.
 
'It's going to take about a month and a half to be fully back to where I need to be,' DiMarco said. 'Right now, with the run of majors coming up, I can't really take any time off. So resting it and strengthening it is the biggest thing. I might strengthen it enough where it stops popping and I might not even need surgery.'
 
The cause?
 
'I think it runs in the family,' he said. 'It's been bothering me for years now, whether it was my right or my left. Both of them are not good.'
 
PLAYER WITHDRAWALS
Darren Clarke, Daisuke Maruyama and David Howell withdrew from the tournament.
 
Clarke withdrew after six holes, citing a hamstring injury. He was 1 over.
 
Maruyama played the entire first round, shot a 13-over 85 and then called it quits because of a sore back. Maruyama had four double bogeys in the final five holes.
 
Howell played two holes, bogeyed both of them, and withdrew because of a back injury.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - THE PLAYERS Championship
  • GOLF CHANNEL Airtimes
     
    Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
  • Getty Images

    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.

     

     

    Getty Images

    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.”

    Getty Images

    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.

    Getty Images

    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.”


    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    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.”