Notes: Super slow greens and heavy heat at Inverness Club

By Associated PressJuly 30, 2011, 1:44 am

TOLEDO, Ohio – At most events set up by the U.S. Golf Association, there’s a long line of players complaining about how hard and slick the greens are.

Thanks to heavy rains overnight – and almost 4 inches of precipitation in the last week – that isn’t a problem at the U.S. Senior Open at Inverness Club.

In Friday’s second round, delayed 2 hours and 45 minutes by an early morning cloudburst, the problem was the greens – usually as fast as a slippery slide – were downright slow and spongy.

“I think all of us are a little thrown off,” said Jay Haas, who shot a 69 after the storms left. “We get a downhill putt and I don’t think people are getting the ball to the hole because we just think it’s going to be fast.”

Usually, a USGA setup involves narrow fairways, greens that register “marble floor” on the Stimpmeter and high rough.

Some of the players are thankful that Inverness isn’t baring her usual fangs.

“I played here when (Paul) Azinger won,” said Peter Senior, referring to Azinger’s playoff win over Greg Norman in the 1993 PGA Championship. “You’d get on the wrong side of the hole and you had 6 or 7 feet to clean up. So we’re pretty fortunate that the greens are as soft as they are. Even when you miss it short side now, you can still get up and down reasonably easy.”

The weather forecast is for clear skies, temperatures in the 90s and high humidity for the rest of the weekend.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: Nick Price, on going from the cool and windy climate at last week’s Senior British Open to the heat and humidity at this week’s U.S. Senior Open: “It feels like we’ve gone from Alaska to the Amazon.”

QUOTE OF THE DAY II: Mark Calcavecchia, on the same subject: “Last week I was intentionally trying to be cold because I knew I was going to be hot as hell for about a month at least.”

NOT HIS FAVORITE: It was a loaded question, but Calcavecchia didn’t care: Were you a good U.S. Open player?

“No. I was a horrible Open player. I’ve never sniffed it in a U.S. Open,” said the loquacious former British Open champion.

He said it’s easy to see why.

“Historically, the rough’s usually chip-out rough and I’m not exactly (ultra-straight) Calvin Peete or David Toms or Fred Funk with the driver. I tend to hit it a little bit crooked, and that usually doesn’t pan out well in the U.S. Open.”

There are exceptions, he said.

“Phil (Mickelson) has no idea where it’s going (off the tee) and he’s had five seconds in the U.S. Open,” Calcavecchia said, drawing laughs from reporters. “So I guess that disproves my theory. But I’m not Phil, either.”

HOMETOWN BOY: Steve Schaff almost waited too long to sneak back into his hometown. Now he’s making the most of it.

Schaff was 3 over par with four holes left in his U.S. Senior Open qualifier in Florida, but finished birdie- ace-birdie-birdie to make it into a playoff with Damon Green, whose day job is caddieing for Zach Johnson.

Even though Schaff, who attended the University of Toledo, lost out in a playoff, he still joined the field this week as an alternate.

He showed consistency – 39-39-78 each day – but was doomed to miss the cut at Inverness Club.

Still, he was thrilled to even be a part of the tournament.

“Day 2 of the dream,” he said with a smile after Friday’s second round. “It was really great. I felt a lot better today. Just being out there with John Cook and Peter Jacobsen was a lot of fun. I really wish I could have played better. I didn’t score great, but this was an experience of a lifetime, for sure.”

The 54-year-old said down the road he’ll have one memory in particular.

“The people here at my home, the reception, just the love I felt from all the friends that I’ve had and people I’ve worked for and worked with over the years here,” he said. “I really don’t have words to describe the experienced I’ve had. It’s going to take some time to sink in. But it’s amazing.”

SELF-IMPROVEMENT: Mark Wiebe’s hopes in the U.S. Senior Open were slipping away. Then, like any good do-it-yourselfer, he restructured his game.

After making two bogeys and a double-bogey in a four-hole span in his opening nine holes in Friday’s second round, Wiebe turned things around by playing the last 10 holes in 3 under to shoot a 67 that left him a 3-under 138 through 36 holes.

So, was the problem more mental or physical, Mark?

“No, it’s mental. I made a couple of bonehead moves and I learned from them and stopped making them,” he said.

LATE LAPSE: Japan’s Kiyoshi Murota had the lead all to himself in the U.S. Senior Open.

Then came two troublesome holes.

Murota made bogey and double-bogey at Nos. 8 and 9 to finish up his second round Friday with a 69 that left him at 5-under 137.

Through an interpreter, he related what went wrong.

“It’s hard to hit it from that deep rough,” he said of the bogey.

As for the 6 at the par-4 8th?

“It’s very difficult, very sensitive chipping out there,” he said.

He jokingly blamed the media for his late problems.

“I was thinking about I’m going to lead,” he said. “And I’m going to have to come over here and you’ll interview me. So I got nervous and made bogey and double-bogey at the end.”

DIVOTS: David Frost was disqualified for choosing to not reload after hitting his drive out of bounds off the ninth tee. He was 5 over at the time and well past the cut line anyway. … D.A. Weibring aced the 170-yard third with a 6-iron, his second on the Champions Tour to go with four on the PGA Tour. … Over-50 crowd favorite Tom Watson elected to play at The Greenbrier Classic on the PGA Tour instead of playing with his peers. He shot 75-71-146 in West Virginia and missed the cut by five strokes.

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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.”

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.”