Park in control at Kraft; Pettersen six back

By Associated PressApril 7, 2013, 1:18 am

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – Inbee Park’s 7-iron tee shot Saturday on the 168-yard 17th hole turned to the left on a perfect line at the back-left pin, landed softly and rolled to 2 1/2 feet for yet another birdie in the Kraft Nabisco Championship.

The 24-year-old South Korean player, three strokes ahead with a round left in the first major championship of the year, admitted it wasn't quite the way she planned it after watching playing partner Lizette Salas' ball sail too far left and into a bunker.

''It was actually a little bit of a mis-shot,'' Park said. ''I aimed a little more right, but I slightly pulled it and it ended up perfect.''

Bogey-free in her last 22 holes at Mission Hills, Park shot her second straight 5-under 67 in tricky wind conditions to reach 12 under.


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''I feel really good about my swing and the stroke at the moment,'' Park said. ''I feel really comfortable around this golf course, too. That helps. Three good rounds, and I just need another one tomorrow. ... I was really used to the wind after yesterday, because we had a really similar wind. It was a lot easier to judge today.''

She's in position for her second major title and second victory of the year. She won the 2008 U.S. Women's Open and added her fourth LPGA title in February in Thailand when Ariya Jutanugarn closed with a triple bogey to blow a two-stroke lead.

''This one would mean a lot,'' Park said. ''It's just been a tournament I always wanted to win and, with the special ceremony jumping in the water, everybody just wants to do that.''

Salas, a stroke behind Park entering the round, had a 69 to remain second.

''I've just got to stay patient and just trust my putter and just keep it simple,'' Salas said ''I'm just going to stick to my game plan. I can't control what she does. I can only control my swing thoughts and my routine.''

Hall of Famer Karrie Webb, the tournament winner in 2000 and 2006, was five strokes back at 6 under along with Suzann Pettersen, Angela Stanford, Jessica Korda, Karine Icher and Pornanong Phatlum. Stanford had a 66, the best round of the tournament. Webb and Pettersen shot 67, Korda and Icher 68, and Phatlum 70.

Park matched Salas with a birdie on the par-4 opening hole and got to 9 under with a 25-foot birdie putt on the par-3 ninth. Park stretched her advantage to two strokes with another 25-foot birdie putt on the par-4 10th, then nearly holed her 9-iron approach on the par-4 12th, leaving only 2 1/2 feet for another birdie that pushed the lead to three.

Salas pulled within two with a birdie on the par-4 13th, and Park countered with the birdie on 17. Park saved par on 17 after hitting into the bunker, then missed a chance to get closer on the par-5 18th when her 6-foot birdie attempt slid by to the right.

''I wasn't hitting the ball as well as the first two days, but I kept putting myself in good position, hit some good shots out of the rough, and hit a great bunker shot on 17 to get up and down for par,'' Salas said. ''Obviously, you want to end with a birdie, and it didn't quite drop. Overall, pretty good day considering I didn't hit the ball well.''

The 23-year-old Salas grew up west of Los Angeles in Azusa, where her father is the head mechanic at a golf course, and was a four-time All-America selection at the University of Southern California.

''I feed off the crowd and, to have my fans out here, my family here, it just helps me stay calm,'' Salas said. ''I'm playing in my backyard, so I can't ask for anything more than that.''

Stanford rebounded with the 66 after opening with rounds of 70 and 74.

''I've kind of been fighting it all week and I kind of found a thought that worked the rest of the day,'' Stanford said. ''I made the turn and started hitting some good shots.''

Pettersen birdied the final four holes. She had a share of the first-round lead after a 68, then dropped back with a 75 on Friday.

''I probably should have had six straight birdies coming in,'' said Pettersen, a three-time runner-up in the event. ''I've given myself a chance for tomorrow.''

The 38-year-old Webb won the last of her 38 tour titles in 2011.

''I'm just glad I gave myself a chance,'' Webb said. ''If we can get some breeze going tomorrow, I think that'll make it interesting.''

Korda, the 20-year-old daughter of former tennis star Petr Korda, is spending time with her family for the first time since January.

''It's really nice,'' said Korda, the Women's Australian Open winner last year. ''My brother and sister got so big. It was really nice to see everybody. I miss my dad's humor and my mom's calmness, and she did my laundry last night, so it was kind of nice.''

Michelle Wie had a 73 to drop to 1 under. She has broken 70 only once in 17 rounds this season and is using an unorthodox putting stance with her torso bent parallel to the ground,

Top-ranked Stacy Lewis was 1 under after a 71.

''Coming into the week my swing didn't feel great and I was kind of hoping I would figure things out by now, but I just haven't,'' said Lewis, the 2011 champion.

She has struggled after winning consecutive events this year in Singapore and Phoenix to take the top spot in the world from Yani Tseng.

DIVOTS: The second-ranked Tseng was even par after a 69. She won the 2010 tournament and finished second in 2011 and third last year. ... Lydia Ko, the 15-year-old New Zealand amateur who won the Canadian Women's Open last August to become the youngest LPGA champion, shot a 71 to reach 1 over. ... Natalie Gulbis was 2 over after a 72 in her return from malaria.


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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.”