For Some Augusta National is Manageable

By Associated PressApril 6, 2007, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- All this moaning and groaning about how hard Augusta National is? How impossible conditions are? How it hasn't played this tough in years?
Don't go there with Paul Casey, Padraig Harrington and Jerry Kelly. They managed to get it done.
Casey and Harrington fired 4-under 68s Friday, the low rounds of the Masters so far, while Kelly posted a 3-under 69 despite a bogey on the last hole. Kelly is tied for fourth, two strokes behind leaders Brett Wetterich and Tim Clark (142). Harrington is at 145, and Casey is five strokes off the lead.
'This golf course always gives you a chance to shoot a good score,' said Harrington, who even had a double-bogey on his card, on the par-4 No. 7. 'There are possibilities of making birdies as long as you keep your momentum going and you don't have a mishap. That's the great thing about this course.'
After Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and the other big hitters started making Augusta's grand old course look like a pitch-and-putt muni, Masters officials exacted their revenge. They've added 520 yards since 2002 alone -- that's equivalent to a par-5 hole -- and the course now measures a super-sized 7,445 yards.
But there had yet to be a true test of the green jackets' new monster. Rain each year softened things up. While that made the course play longer, it also made the greens more forgiving and took a bite out of a signature part of the course.
This year, though, there hasn't been any rain. The fairways are firm and the greens are as hard as nearby Washington Road. Throw in swirling winds and cool conditions, and Augusta has turned into quite the beast.
'It's been a long time since anybody has seen it play like this,' Kelly said. 'I've played extremely patient, which is not my M.O. But it has to be around here. Otherwise, it's going to eat your lunch.'
Look at some of the scores posted so far. An 87 by rookie Casey Watabu. Two scores in the 80s by two-time champion Seve Ballesteros. Three-time major winner Ernie Els went 78-76 and missed the cut.
Even Casey shot a 79 in the first round.
'I had put myself in a position where I had to shoot a decent number today,' said Casey, who tied for sixth here in 2004 and missed the cut the following year. 'I thought it had to be at worst, level par. Anything better was great. And it is better, so it's great.'
Casey got his day off to the right start with an eagle on the par-5 No. 2. He almost holed out on the 155-yard 12th with a nine iron, the ball landing about two inches from the cup.
If not for a bogey on 18, his round would have been just about perfect.
'If you can get close to him, you must be doing something right as he is usually near the pointy end of the leaderboard,' the Englishman said of Woods, one of his playing partners.
'I was actually a bit disappointed to tie with him at the end, as I had him there.'
Casey shot a 35 on the back nine Friday, the same as Woods.
Harrington, playing with Kelly and Luke Donald, opened with three straight birdies Friday. That's as many as he had for his entire round Thursday. He had a double-bogey on No. 7 after knocking his tee shot into the trees, but got the stroke right back on the next hole.
After a bogey on the par-4 10th, he played the last eight holes at 3 under.
'There's a lot of players here this week that are slightly shorter off the tee and can compete on this golf course now because they can get the ball running,' Harrington said. 'It sort of does negate the distance between the very long hitters. Tim Clark ... he'll tell you himself he's no big hitter, and he's obviously up there again.
'So this golf course, it does allow it to be played many ways. It's not limited to one style of play.'
Kelly isn't a grip-it-and-rip-it guy, either. A former college hockey player, he's more of a grinder, somebody who plays for position rather than power. But he can also get a little, how shall we say it, distracted. He's never finished better than 20th at a major.
Kelly switched to a new blade putter a few weeks ago, and credits that with helping him save pars on the fast greens. He's also been working with Lanny Bassham, an Olympic gold medalist in rifle shooting, to improve his focus.
'Especially when you get on a place like this, if you're thinking about too many things, you're done,' Kelly said. 'I try too much, and that's exactly what I'm getting into with Lanny. Try to get a good process and not worry about the rest, not worry about how to do it.'
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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.”