English Spoken Here

By Brian HewittOctober 15, 2008, 4:00 pm
Womens golf officially has a new In crowd.
 
South Korean-born Inbee Park won the U.S. Womens Open in June. And South Korean-born In-Kyung Kim won her first LPGA event Sunday at the Longs Drug Challenge.
 
Kims victory did not come as a surprise to anybody who noticed that she finished in the top 10 in each of the last two womens majors this year. Some may even recall that Kim defeated Park, 5 and 4, in the finals of the U.S. Girls Junior in 2005.
 
But the performances that put the most smiles on the bosses back at LPGA headquarters were the ones turned in by the 20-year-old Kim in the press room and at the trophy presentation over the weekend.
 
Remember, Kim was the first Korean to win an LPGA event since the storm of controversy accompanied the organizations announcement that it was going to mandate more English language proficiency from its foreign-born players.
 
At her Longs news conference Saturday, Kim made it through without an interpreter and referred to herself self-deprecatingly but endearingly as a little punk kid. Very American.
 
The word she probably was looking for was underdog. But all the present knew what she was trying to say.
 
Then on Sunday she revealed that she had been taking English classes two days a week at the University of South Carolina but struggled in other parts of the country because the South Carolina accent was so different.
 
Finally, with the sponsors beaming in the background at the presentation of the winners check, she blushed and said, This is like my English class.
 
If they had been handing out grades Sunday, the consensus is that In-Kyung Kim would have received an A on the course and an A off the course as well. Rosetta Stone language courses, she said, have also helped.
 
Kim came to the United States when she was 17 and has tried to immerse herself in American culture. But she hasnt forgotten where she came from, a fact that was evident when she acknowledged her mothers presence in the Sunday gallery.
 
She believes in me more than I believe in myself, thats why I am here today, said Kim, who now ranks No. 22 in the world, one spot ahead of Morgan Pressel.
 
SHUTTING IT DOWN
 
If Pressel is disappointed that she hasnt won in 2008 (no top 10s since June), think how Brittany Lincicome feels.
 
The long-hitting Lincicome, who plowed through the field at the 2006 HSBC World Match Play and played on the victorious 2007 U.S. Solheim Cup team, has dropped all the way to 90th on the money list and No. 49 in the world rankings.
 
According to her agent, Jeff Chilcoat, Lincicome will shut it down after this weeks Kapalua LPGA Classic and not return to competitive golf until 2009.
 
Lincicomes problems began when she and her teacher, Tampa-based Matt Mitchell, tried to make swing changes between the 2007 and 2008 seasons. By late spring it became apparent the changes werent working and the two have spent much of the rest of the year trying to get Lincicome back to where she was in 2007 when she finished 13th on the money list with $871,384 in earnings.
 
Lincicome has made just $114,963 this year and ranks 160th in driving accuracy, a stat that discounts her No. 2 ranking in driving distance. In 20 events this year the 23-year-old has posted just one top 10. Lincicome also made multiple caddie switches this year before finally settling on veteran looper Tara Bateman.
 
Certainly theres been frustration, Chilcoat said. But she has handled it very well, way better than you would expect a young 23-year-old to handle this.
 
WACHOVIA UPDATE
 
Last week GolfChannel.com reported that the Wachovia Championship was waiting to find out its new name while acquisition suitors Citigroup and Wells Fargo fought over who was going to take over the tournaments title sponsor.
 
The San Francisco-based Wells Fargo won. And there is every indication that the new owner will continue to sponsor the event through the end of its contractual commitment to the PGA Tour which expires after the 2014 tournament.
 
The Wachovia Championship did a spectacular job branding its event as a top tier championship in the five years it was played at Quail Hollow which has become one of the players favorite courses on Tour. And there is hope in the Charlotte, N.C., community that Wells Fargo will recognize that. But there is no guarantee.
 
We didnt control the name, said Quail Hollow club president Johnny Harris. In retrospect, maybe we should have done that. Harris said he hasnt given up on the concept of the new name having Quail Hollow in the title.
 
Meanwhile, Harris emphasized that the uncertain job futures of thousands of Wachovia employees located in the Charlotte area are more important right now than the name of a golf tournament.
 

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    Two-time champ Bubba fires 63 at Travelers

    By Will GrayJune 22, 2018, 7:20 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Amid a resurgent season that has already included a pair of wins, it only makes sense that Bubba Watson is back in contention at the Travelers Championship.

    TPC River Highlands has been one of Watson’s favorite haunts over the years; it’s a layout where the southpaw’s creative approach is often rewarded. This is where he burst into tears after earning his first PGA Tour victory in 2010, and this is where he beat Paul Casey in a playoff to again lift the trophy in 2015.

    He’ll once again have a late weekend tee time after firing a 7-under 63 during the second round, tying the low score of the week and moving to within three shots of Brian Harman’s 10-under total.

    “Little bit less wind, little more confidence on the ball-striking, and I made putts,” Watson said. “The key is making putts. When you start making putts, that’s where you’re going to score a decent number.”


    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    Watson was well down the standings after opening with an even-par 70, a round that included three bogeys in a four-hole stretch on the back nine to negate progress he had made earlier in the day. But he ran into no such struggles the second time around, adding six birdies to an eagle on the par-5 13th hole when he hit his approach shot from 229 yards to within 18 inches of the hole.

    The difference, according to Watson, was between the ears.

    “Yesterday I was just thinking about some negative stuff instead of focusing on my target and focusing on the shot at hand,” Watson said. “I was focusing on hitting to the bunker, or focusing on, ‘Water is over here, so hit it over here.’ Just things like that, just things that you can’t do around the golf course.”

    Watson was also a runner-up in 2012 here in addition to his two wins, and he has racked up nearly $3.5 million in earnings in 11 prior appearances. Once again thinking the right thoughts on one of his favorite tracks, he’s potentially 36 holes away from his third win since February.

    “Obviously around here I feel pretty comfortable,” Watson said. “I can hit some shots around here, and I’ve made it work throughout some of the years.”

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    Only putting is holding McIlroy back

    By Will GrayJune 22, 2018, 6:48 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – Through two rounds of the Travelers Championship, the tee shots are towering and the approaches are accurate for Rory McIlroy. Now he just needs the putter to heat up.

    McIlroy started to show signs of life during the second round last week at Shinnecock Hills before missing the cut, and after putting in some extra work honing his swing over the weekend, his tee-to-green game is worth boasting about at the halfway point at TPC River Highlands.

    McIlroy has missed only five greens in regulation through two rounds, barely breaking a sweat en route to rounds of 64 and 69 that left him at 7 under. He’s within striking distance heading into the weekend, three shots behind Brian Harman, but might be topping the standings with a more cooperative putter.


    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    “I felt like I left a few out there,” McIlroy said. “I felt like I had a lot of good putts that just didn’t go in. I started them on line, did everything I needed to do, and it’s just one of those days where they were sliding by the edges.”

    McIlroy took 32 putts to complete his second round, including a three-putt on No. 7 for his only bogey of the day and another three-putt on No. 13 that turned an eagle opportunity into a par. Already with a win under his belt this year at the Arnold Palmer Invitational when he knocked in putts from all directions during a final-round 64, McIlroy feels confident that he might be only a few rolls away from having another shot to contend in his second career trip to the Hartford-area stop.

    “I think if I can put the ball in the fairway and hit my irons as good as I have been over the first couple of days, I’ll give myself a lot of chances for birdies,” McIlroy said. “It’s just about converting them and taking the opportunities when they present themselves.”

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    Rosaforte Report: Toski lively, singing and ready to go home

    By Tim RosaforteJune 22, 2018, 6:41 pm

    Bob Toski sounded pretty good for a man near death last week. When we spoke on Friday, the 91-year-old teaching legend and former PGA Tour leading money winner was alive and feeling well. Especially when he was talking about giving lessons, swinging a golf club again, and going down to the piano bar at Arturo’s near his home in Boca Raton, Fla., to sing his favorite song, “Sentimental Journey."

    “It’s been quite a journey,” Toski said in total bliss. “But I’m going home tomorrow.”

    Going back 10 days, to June 12, Toski suffered a severe heart attack that had him on life support, in critical condition, at a hospital not far from the South Florida golf community where he’s pro emeritus at St. Andrews.

    He opened 15 minutes on the phone on Friday by asking how much he owed me for the publicity he got during the U.S. Open. Typical Toski. His heart may have skipped a beat, but he hadn’t.

    At no more than 120 pounds, still larger than life.


    Bob Toski from his hospital bed in South Florida


    “This is the mouse,” he said when asked to confirm it really was him on the phone. “The Mighty Mouse.”

    We were laughing now, but there was a moment one night during “Live From the U.S. Open” when I got a message from the Boca hospital which sounded grim (hospital staff used a defibrillator on him six times during his stay). That’s when one of the friends by his side texted me and said it would be just like “Tosk” to sit up straight and ask everybody what was going on.

    Essentially, that’s what happened. And now here he was on the phone, cracking off one-liners, talking about Brooks Koepka’s win at Shinnecock, giving his take on the USGA and course setup, asking how much I’d been playing, and giving his love to everybody at “The Channel.”

    He invited me down for a lesson at St. Andrews and dinner at Arturos. “In a month’s time,” he said, “I’ll be ready to go.”

    He sounded ready right now, singing a line from his favorite song, from his hospital bed in the happiest of voices, “Gotta set my heart at ease.”

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    Spieth fades with 3-over 73: 'It's just golf'

    By Will GrayJune 22, 2018, 6:10 pm

    CROMWELL, Conn. – After finding nothing but positives for his first five trips around the course, Jordan Spieth finally suffered a setback at TPC River Highlands.

    Spieth won the Travelers Championship last year in his tournament debut, and he quickly bounced back from a missed cut at Shinnecock Hills by firing a 7-under 63 in the opening round this week to take a share of the lead. Out early during the second round with a chance to move even further into red figures amid calm conditions, he instead went the other way.

    Undone by a triple bogey on the par-5 13th hole, Spieth was 5 over for his first 14 holes and needed an eagle on the par-5 sixth hole for the second straight day simply to salvage a 3-over 73. The score knocked him back to 4 under for the week and six shots behind Brian Harman.

    Despite finding three fewer fairways, three fewer greens in regulation and taking five more putts than he did in the opening round, Spieth still put a positive spin on a lackluster result.


    Full-field scores from the Travelers Championship

    Travelers Championship: Articles, photos and videos


    “I actually felt like I had better control of my golf swing than I did yesterday. I really struggled with my swing yesterday and I kind of got some good breaks,” Spieth said. “It’s just golf. It’s kind of like yesterday I got three or four shots extra out of the round, and today I lost three or four based on how I felt.”

    Spieth was happy with his opening-round effort, but even after finishing late in the day he still went straight to the driving range that lines the ninth fairway at TPC River Highlands – not exactly standard behavior after grabbing a share of the lead.

    “So it’s not like things are on,” he said. “Sometimes it can get disguised by rounds, but it’s not far off. It really is close.”

    Spieth has lamented a lack of quality chances to win this year, which he has previously described as being within six shots of the lead heading into the final round. He’ll have some work to do to meet that mark this weekend in defense of his title, as his round hit a snag on No. 13, his fourth hole of the morning, when he pulled his tee shot out of bounds and then hit his subsequent approach into the water.

    “For whatever reason, it’s a large fairway but it’s always just killed me,” Spieth said. “I don’t know what it is about the hole, but that hole I get on the tee and for whatever reason I struggle. … I just hit a bad shot at the wrong time there.”