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Poulter, Hossler share 54-hole Houston Open lead

By Associated PressMarch 31, 2018, 11:46 pm

HUMBLE, Texas - Ian Poulter has played in the Masters a dozen times, never missing the cut. Beau Hossler has never played a competitive round at Augusta National.

Both are in position to become the last man in the Masters field, and neither wants to think about it.

The 42-year-old Poulter surged into a share of the lead at the Houston Open on Saturday with a 7-under 65, and Hossler, a 23-year-old PGA Tour rookie, matched him at 14-under 202 after he holed a 7-footer for birdie on the par-4 18th to shoot 69.

Like all PGA Tour events that offer full FedEx Cup points, the Houston Open title comes with an invitation to next week's Masters.

''No, not thinking about it, not talking about it,'' Poulter said. ''I'm going to go out and have some fun tomorrow. There's a lot of ifs and buts. I'll have no emotion at all. I'm in a no-lose situation. ... I'll go do my job.''

Four players were two shots behind Poulter and Hossler - Australian Greg Chalmers (65), Argentina's Emiliano Grillo (67), American Kevin Tway (69) and Paul Dunne of Ireland (69) - and none of them has a spot at Augusta yet either.

Hossler has popped up on a major leaderboard before - he briefly led the 2012 U.S. Open while still in high school - and he said getting to the Masters would be ''as good as it gets.'' But he said contemplating that opportunity would only lead to ''trouble'' on Sunday.

Poulter shot 64 on Friday after opening with a 73 that had him packing his bags in anticipation of a missed cut. It was the first time since his last victory in 2012 that he had consecutive rounds of 65 or better on the PGA Tour.


Full scoring from the Houston Open

Houston Open: Articles, photos and videos


Asked if his rounds ranked among the best back-to-back efforts in his 23 years of touring professionally, Poulter said, ''From a putting standpoint, yes, absolutely.''

It was a simple fix for the English veteran renowned for making crucial putts on winning Ryder Cup teams. He opened his shoulders slightly, allowing him to see the lines better, and has played his last 40 holes in 16 under, without a bogey.


Full scoring from the Houston Open

Houston Open: Articles, photos and videos


''Hopefully I've found the key,'' Poulter said. ''I need to write it down and, when it's not there, I need to read it.''

Poulter nearly made it into the Masters last week with a run to the quarterfinals at the Dell Technologies Match Play, which improved his world ranking to 51st - just missing the cutoff to move into the top 50. Making matters worse, he had been told by media members that his quarterfinals appearance would guarantee him enough ranking points. But just before he began his quarterfinal match, officials informed him that he'd need to make the semis.

The news knocked Poulter off his game and he lost badly, 8 and 6, to Kevin Kisner.

''Some people were getting in my head space, which is never good,'' Poulter said. ''Yeah, maybe I was a bit angry on Thursday. Maybe I was kind of forcing, trying to force my way into (the Masters). That didn't work, so I had to re-think it. I kind of had to flow the cobwebs out, reset and go again.''

Rickie Fowler birdied three of the first four holes to move into the lead before he faltered with a double bogey on the sixth hole and a triple bogey - including a three-putt from inside 7 feet - on the par-5 13th. He shot 73 and was five shots back.

Jordan Spieth, whose putter appeared to be heating up after a season-long slump, had four three-putts in the first eight holes - including two misses from inside 4 feet - and shot 71. He trailed by four shots.

Henrik Stenson and Matt Kuchar were 11 under, among the dozen players within three shots of the lead.

Ninety players teed off Saturday, the most in almost three years on the PGA Tour, after Bobby Gates' final-hole bogey on Friday allowed an additional 20 players to make the cut. Seventy-five remain after Saturday's secondary cut, including Phil Mickelson, who had a double bogey and a triple bogey in his round of 72.

Now that he's out of the hunt, Mickelson will spend Sunday trying to gear up his game for Augusta. Hossler, Poulter and many others can only hope for the chance to do the same.

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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.”