Oakmont Kicks Field In The Teeth

By Brian HewittJune 15, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 U.S. OpenOAKMONT, Pa. -- Torture thy name is Oakmont.
We all sort of thought we knew this was coming. Lord knows we wrote and talked about it enough. But we didnt really know how nasty it could get until Oakmont Country Club revealed its dark side Friday in the second round of the U.S. Open.
Worse, (or better, if you are a card-carrying sadist), the cruelest may be yet to come on the weekend.
A wise man once called golf organized torture. But whats going on here in Western Pennsylvania on a greensward of immaculate-groomed horror, bisected by a turnpike full of madly-rushing traffic, is much more torture than it is organized.
The leader after 36 holes is a long-hitting Argentine named Angel Cabrera. He is even par. Zero under. The scoring average for the 156-man field Friday was close to 77.
All of which prompted me to research the word torture. The American Heritage Dictionary (after all the U.S. Open is an American heritage) defines torture, when used as a noun, as:
Excruciating punishment: Hell, living hell, persecution, torment.A state of physical or mental suffering: affliction, agony, anguish, distress, hurt, misery, painwoe, wound, wretchedness.
As a verb:
To subject to extreme physical cruelty: crucify, rackto bring great harm or suffering to: afflict, agonize, anguish, curse, excruciate, plague, rack, scourge, smite, strike.
All of which brings us, in a long roundabout way to Paul Casey.
For the second day in a row a young Englishman shot the low round of the day. Thursday it was Nick Dougherty carding 68. Friday it was Casey with a rather astonishing 66.
Im still a little stunned, Casey said, almost an hour after signing for a score that other players were already comparing to the winning 63 famously crafted by Johnny Miller in the final round of the 1973 U.S. Open at Oakmont.
I dont think that (the 66) compares, Casey said deferentially. If I can get through the weekend with all my limbs intact, Ill be very very happy. Its a very dangerous golf course.
Justin Rose, in at 2-over, wasnt sure why but he suffered a nosebleed during his round. When somebody suggested it was from the stress of Oakmont, he laughed. Then he said these words: inflicting physical pain on us.
Oakmont inflicted physical pain on world No. 2 Phil Mickelson weeks ago when he came here for practice rounds. The result was a wrist injury caused by trying to fight through the thick roughs. And it effectively cost Mickelson a chance to contend this week.
He finished with 74-77 and missed the cut, which fell at 10-over, by a shot. But he left with his wrist intact and was glad for that. Youre trying to win and youre trying to hit great shots, Mickelson said. But youre also trying not to end your career in one shot.
The question now becomes this: Is there any room for the course set-up guys between where conditions were Friday and the line where the golf course becomes unplayable?
When I asked Casey, his reaction was somewhere between a sick smile and a wince. Yes, he told me, Theyve left enough room. Which is quite scary.
Torture thy name is Oakmont.
Can it get harder? Can the torture become worse on Saturday and Sunday? Casey said he thought it could and would.
I have never felt so uncomfortable on a putting surface in my life, said Northern Irelands Graeme McDowell. In his first round McDowell found himself staring in the face of a double bogey with nearly an impossible two-foot putt.
Luke Donald, yet another young Englishman, has plans to nurse his Oakmont hangover next week by getting married. If Oakmont could talk and tell jokes, you get the idea that it would suggest, politically incorrectly, that Donald is going from the frying pan into the fire.
Padraig Harrington, from the Republic of Ireland, launched into some fascinating inside golf talk when he tried to explain the risk/reward dilemma posed by wanting to one-putt and fearing to three-putt.
We are choosing lines which are dead weight, Harrington said. Saying you need to be up here doesnt apply. A person who tries that out here will not hole putts. Either it is correct pace or it is nothing. Most players have realized that to hole putts on these greens you have to drop them right in. And you will leave some short.
And it wasnt just the greens. The par 5 12th, which when it plays at 667 yards is the longest three-shot hole in U.S. Open history, has allowed just 30 per cent of the field to hit its green in regulation. Thats right, 30 per cent GIRs on a par 5.
Two of the more difficult greens are the opening ones on each side, the first and the 10th. Those holes, said Johnny Miller himself, were designed in hell.
Devil of a golf course. Leader named Angel. Heavenly weather.
Saturday the survivors will be religious in their concentration for Sunday will assuredly not be a day of rest.

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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.”