Stricker Scratches Nine-Year Itch at Barclays

By Associated PressAugust 25, 2007, 4:00 pm
the Barclays Logo 2007HARRISON, N.Y. -- Steve Stricker has given himself plenty of chances to win this year, but none quite as good as this.
 
A burst of birdies at The Barclays carried Stricker to a 6-under 65 and allowed him to zoom past K.J. Choi and into the lead Saturday at Westchester Country Club, the first time he has held the 54-hole lead in nine years.
 
Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson was in contention until a horrible back-nine stretch. (WireImage)
Finishing it off for his first victory since 2001 won't be easy.
 
Choi overcame some errant tee shots on the back nine with a birdie-birdie finish to salvage a 70, leaving him only one shot behind. Hunter Mahan tied a tournament scoring record for the second time in five weeks, this one a 9-under 62 that took him from the middle of the pack to only two shots behind.
 
And then there was Rich Beem, perhaps the most desperate contender.
 
Needing a top-10 finish to avoid ending his season in these inaugural PGA TOUR Playoffs, Beem overcame a rocky start with an eagle on the ninth hole and a 69, giving him his best position in a final round since February.
 
But it all starts with Stricker, who was at 14-under 199, which tied the 54-hole record at Westchester.
 
He played in the final group at the British Open and was tied for the lead going into the back nine at the U.S. Open, fading both times.
 
'One of these times, it's going to come out in my favor,' Stricker said. 'I haven't been beating myself up about not winning any of those events, but obviously, I would like to win. It's been a long time since I've won, and I'm just going to try to bring as many positive thoughts to the table tomorrow as I can.'
 
For now, he was thrilled to simply be in this position.
 
Only four players were within six shots of Choi going into a steamy afternoon at Westchester. But the South Korea plodded along with pars as Mahan and others were attacking soft greens, and left behind was a tournament that had so many compelling possibilities.
 
Ten players were separated by five shots going into the final round, and that includes two-time winner Ernie Els, who finished his round of 68 with an eagle on the final hole.
 
Former U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy had a 69 and was in the group at 203 that included Woody Austin (66) and Rory Sabbatini, who was among four players who had a share of the lead Saturday until he started missing fairways and making bogeys.
 
Steve Flesch (67) and Kenny Perry (68) joined Els at 204.
 
Phil Mickelson looked like he might join the chase with four birdies at the turn that pulled him within three shots of the lead. But that was close as he got, and he was happy to follow up a double bogey on the 16th with back-to-back birdies.
 
'All I had to do was shoot under par on the back,' said Mickelson, who played the back nine in 2 over and shot 69.
 
The most impressive day belonged to Mahan, who also shot 62 to tie the Canadian Open record last month. That was in the first round, and Mahan was up-and-down the rest of the week and tied for fifth.
 
'I feel like it's going to be a little different tomorrow because I have a chance to win the tournament,' Mahan said.
 
So does Stricker -- again.
 
He was tied for the lead at the Wachovia Championship until a double bogey on the 16th hole, allowing Tiger Woods to breathe easier. He was among the leaders at the AT&T National and wound up second behind Choi.
 
But the most memorable moments were at the majors. Stricker was tied for the lead at Oakmont as he made the turn in the final round, only to double bogey two straight holes and shoot 40 on the back nine. And he played in the final group at Carnoustie, one shot behind early in the last round, before one of golf's best putters couldn't make anything inside 6 feet.
 
Stricker is playing some of his best golf, yet he hasn't hoisted a trophy since the 2001 Accenture Match Play Championship.
 
Despite all those misses, Stricker has rarely been this calm and forgiving.
 
It showed early on when his 6-iron disappeared into a slope of deep rough right of the par-3 first, so deep that he had to lift it out of the grass to make sure it was his. He had to two-putt from 30 feet for bogey, but he plugged along with by keeping the ball in play and taking advantage of the shots he got within 15 feet of the hole.
 
Beem also could have lost his mind, three-putting the opening hole, and dropping two more shots on the front nine. He was four behind and falling fast when he ripped a 3-wood onto the green at the par-5 ninth and holed the eagle putt.
 
His only regrets were not getting it any closer than 30 feet on the last two holes with a wedge in his hand.
 
'But I can't complain about anything,' Beem said. 'I played some pretty good golf today.'
 
That made what Mahan did simply spectacular.
 
He turned out around his fortunes at Westchester, much like he turned around his season. Mahan was going nowhere, certainly not to Oakmont, until some tough talk from his psychologist straightened him out at U.S. Open qualifying. But he followed a 73 with a 63 to qualify, and he has not finishing out of the top 25 since then, including his first PGA TOUR victory.
 
Mahan was in the middle of the pack at The Barclays until getting on track with a string of birdies and never letting up. None of his nine birdies was longer than 12 feet.
 
A victory by any of top seven players on the leaderboard would be enough for them to take over the No. 1 position in the playoffs. For now, Stricker's focus is on a trophy.
 
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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.”