Even Scarier Than You Thought

By Brian HewittJune 13, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 U.S. OpenOAKMONT, Pa. -- Tuesday, in this space, I made the case for the notion that there are two stars here at the U.S. Open which is scheduled to begin at 7 a.m. Thursday.
 
Those two stars are, in order of brightness, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.
 
Actually, there are three stars.
 
Luke Donald
Luke Donald hits from the famed Church Pew bunkers at Oakmont. (Getty Images)
Yes, I forgot one.
 
The third, with apologies to Johnny Miller, is the golf course: Oakmont Country Club, 7,200 yards of the best conditioned and groomed golfing hell that you are likely to find anywhere.
 
In the span of two breaths Tuesday, NBC announcer Miller anointed Oakmont.
 
This is the finest golf course in the world, Johnny said.
 
This is the greatest course in the world, Johnny added, barely coming up for air.
 
Better than Pine Valley ever thought of being, better than Cypress (Point) ever thought of being, Johnny gushed.
 
A lot of people who have been to a lot of major championships are also saying this years Oakmont version is the toughest test ever at a major. That covers a lot of ground. So I ran it past former player and current TV analyst Peter Oosterhuis, who has played in more kinds of conditions than just about anybody on the grounds.
 
Oakmont the toughest ever?
 
Oosty: It always was.
 
Oakmont has been in the business of thoroughly examining the golf games of the best players in the world for a long time. No other golf course has hosted more U.S. Opens. This will be the eighth for Oakmont.
 
Wednesday the gentlemen from the USGA showed up for their annual state of the U.S. Open press conference. The subject of the golf course dominated the presentation and most of the Q&A.
 
I couldnt resist asking USGA President Walter Driver and Executive Director David Fay for their reaction to Millers comments. And, I asked them, if they agreed.
 
I was told when I took this job that saying anything negative about any golf course was like insulting someones spouse, and you better not do that, Driver said. So I think this is a great golf course. As to comparing it to other golf courses, Im not going to go there.
 
By the way, Fay chimed in, that comment about insulting ones spouse -- Charles Blair Macdonald. Ive got to get that plug in.
 
Fay felt compelled because earlier in the news conference the World Golf Hall of Fame had announced it will induct Macdonald, who designed National Golf Links and Chicago Golf, among others, in November. Macdonald, Fay said, is the father of organized golf in America. Its no stretch to say that without Charles Blair McDonald there would be no USGA and no U.S. Open.
 
Macdonald, if he were still alive, would probably love Oakmont. The green speeds will be in the range of 13 to 14 on the Stimpmeter. The primary cut of rough is 2 inches. The intermediate rough is 5 inches. And the USGA promises those numbers will remain constant throughout the week.
 
Unless, of course, there is what the USGA calls a rain event. One was predicted for late Wednesday. Both Mike Davis and Tim Moraghan told me separately Wednesday that if it doesnt rain, they will be able to control course conditions to just the spot they wanted them to be. Davis is in charge of course set-up for the USGA. Moraghan is the USGAs chief agronomist.
 
Moraghan also told me that there are plans afoot to move the tee box up on the second hole to 300 yards for Sundays final round. The normal tee box on that uphill par-4 is 341 yards. Jim Hyler, chairman of the USGA Championship Committee, hinted strongly that the downhill par-3 eighth will also play 300 yards Sunday.
 
Thats a par-3 and a par-4 playing to the same yardage, if not the same virtual distance. The hope is that there will be players in the field who can drive both.
 
We dont want this thing to be all Starbucks grind, Moraghan told me. We like to have a little fun.
 
Fun, of course, is a relative word.
 
If somebody built a course like this today, Justin Rose told me Monday before boarding his plane to Oakmont, theyd probably crucify him.
 
Ladies and gentleman, Hyler said, clearly having fun, these greens are scary.
 
Absolutely no grain in them, Moraghan said. Just uphill or downhill.
 
Just Oakmont.
 
Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt
 
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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.”