Tiger Leaves Field Feeling Blue

By Associated PressJune 16, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 U.S. OpenOAKMONT, Pa. -- It was blue shirt day at the U.S. Open, or so it looked. Tiger Woods set the fashion as usual, but it seemed like half the players got the same memo from Nike on just what to wear.
They must have gotten the memo on whining too, because there wasn't as much of that going on. A day after the since-departed Phil Mickelson declared the course dangerous to the health of golfers everywhere, the USGA poured so much water on the greens that Oakmont Country Club played less than its usual snarly self.
Woods led all the blue shirts with a 1-under 69 that could have been a whole lot better. Most golf rounds can, of course, but it was especially true on this day for Woods, who had one eagle putt and 17 attempts at birdie on a course that played to an average of nearly 7 over par the day before.
He didn't flinch until the 18th hole, when a wayward tee shot cost him his only bogey and left him muttering unmentionables to himself. No big deal, though, because almost everyone else except Aaron Baddeley was spitting it up around him.
It wasn't enough to put him in the lead, just enough to get him in the final group. He'll tee off Sunday in his traditional red shirt knowing he's swinging sweeter than ever, secure in the knowledge that he's already won a full dozen major championships.
That by itself has to have the people on the leaderboard alongside him feeling more than just a bit blue.
'Tee to green, he's just awesome,' playing partner Nick Dougherty said. 'He's the man.'
Actually, Baddeley is the man, at least for now. The Aussie best known for his commercials with a car full of blondes used a miracle shot on the 17th hole and a finishing birdie to craft a two-stroke lead over Woods.
Listening to Baddeley talk afterward about how his life is now calm and complete, you almost wanted to hand him the U.S. Open trophy right then. He seems unflappable, without the deer-caught-in-the-headlights look that most players chasing their first major championship against Woods usually have.
And don't forget that the most surprising statistic among all the great ones Woods has amassed is that he has never come from behind in the final round to win a major championship.
No matter. Woods may not think the average 10-handicapper can break 100 at Oakmont this week, but the average 10-handicapper surely believes Woods will be the one standing on the 18th green Sunday with his third Open championship well in hand.
With good reason, because they've watched him do too many unbelievable things before not to believe he'll win an Open once again.
And this time they're right.
Now if only Baddeley plays along. He doesn't always get the message. He wore white on Saturday, after all.
If ever Woods had a major championship just there for the pickings, though, it's this one. He's not only the 500-pound gorilla on a leaderboard filled with wannabes, but the effortless way he played Saturday showed he was in command of all parts of his game.
He shot a 69, but it just as easily could have been a 64. Woods hit the first 17 greens, rolled the ball beautifully with his putter and with any luck at all would already be leading this Open.
The 3-wood stingers off the tee were center cut, his irons rarely left the pin, and the putts were always just the right speed. He felt so good he even pulled out the driver on the two short par-4s and blasted away at the green.
'I hit it crisp and clean,' Woods said. 'I controlled my trajectory and was able to move the ball both ways.'
In other words, the best player of his era is playing as good as he can, which has to be about as frightening to other players as the Oakmont rough was to Mickelson. The crowd surrounding the ninth tee loved it so much that it gave Woods two ovations, one after he hit a 3-wood down the middle and the second when he emerged from a Port-a-Potty to go hit his ball again.
Baddeley noted, quite correctly and quite bravely, that he has played with Woods in two Masters and understands what goes with the circus that surrounds him. But those were early rounds and he's never seen anything like he'll see midafternoon Sunday when the sun-soaked and beer-drenched crowd of some 45,000 starts roaring for Woods the moment he leaves the practice green and heads for the first tee.
Add in the pressure of playing for a major championship, and this has the potential to get ugly for a group of contenders who haven't won majors before.
'They're going to deal with emotions they probably haven't dealt with before,' Woods warned. 'I've been there before. I know what it takes.'
Those aren't just fighting words. Woods may not have come from behind in the final to win a major before, but a big reason behind that is that when he's playing well he's usually leading after Saturday.
He's a finisher like the game has never seen, and the evidence is the 12 major titles he already has stashed away.
Don't be surprised on Sunday when he makes it a baker's dozen.
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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

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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.”