What a Year for Watson

By December 27, 2003, 5:00 pm
Editor's Note: This is part of a series of articles highlighting the top stories of 2003. Check back through the end of the year to see the rest of the list.
 
2003 Stories of the YearDuring a spectacular career that saw him win 39 PGA Tour titles, eight major championships, numerous player of the year awards and money titles, and the applause of millions worldwide, it would seem impossible for Tom Watson, now at 54 years of age, to have a year that could top any of those from his prime.
 
But somehow he did. Make that, they did.
 
Tom and his good friend and trusted caddie Bruce Edwards had a year to remember.
 
Though perhaps best known for his dramatic chip in at the 17th hole in the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach to beat Jack Nicklaus, Watson might soon become known more for his chip in to fight the deadly ALS disease that is slowly taking the life of his longtime caddie Edwards.
 
Edwards, who first worked with Watson some thirty years ago was asked this year to name his best ever moment as a caddie. It wasnt, of course, a certain shot or victory, but something much simpler.
 
The day I walked up to Tom and said, Hi, I'm going to be out here, can I caddie for you? And he said, Well, I'll let you caddie for me this week, and we'll take it from there, and here we are 30 years later, recalled Edwards. Meeting him, working for him, that's been the best thing in my life, without a doubt, without a doubt.'
 
'He is the best thing that ever happened to me, and I told somebody on Thursday that if someone said to me we can do this all over again, you're going to get ALS down the road, would you do it? I'd say you bet, every time. I've been really lucky.
 
Watson, who has often spoken about the special bond between the two, is becoming, understandably, saddened by the effects the disease is having on his pal.
 
Trust in all things, said Tom on their relationship. As I said at his wedding, he doesn't have a mean bone in his body.
 
'He loves the Tour, loves his family out here. It's sad. It's sad to see him withdraw because he can't talk, and that's what's happening.
 
And fittingly, in the year that the Senior Tour officially changed its name to The Champions Tour, it was a vintage Watson who garnered the tours player of the year award. A champion, indeed.
 
On statistics alone the award would have been his, but his association with Edwards and their sudden and unfortunte involvement with ALS made the choice sentimentally speaking, an easy and wise one.
 
On the stats side, Tom Terrific captured two Champions Tour majors ' the Senior British Open and Jeld-Wen Tradition ' had the lowest scoring average on tour, finished atop the money list and won the season-long Charles Schwab points race.
 
He also had strong showings playing alongside the younger set, first at the U.S. Open where he finished tied for 28th and then at the Open Championship in Scotland where he tied for 18th.
 
At one point during this glorious season, Waston teed it up in seven straight majors between the Champions Tour and the PGA Tour and in nine overall.
 
But it was upon receiving the $1 million bonus for winning the Charles Schwab Cup, that Watson scored best ' he immediately donated the entire prize to charity, much of it going to fight the disease that Edwards had been diagnosed with earlier in the year.
 
'As great as Tom's achievements were on the golf course, he outdid himself off it, displaying dedication and compassion for a very good friend who happens to be his caddie,' said PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem. 'He is a shining example of what is truly good about our sport. The entire PGA Tour family is proud to be associated with Tom Watson.'
 
Watson was also named by the PGA the recipient of the 2003 Payne Stewart Award, which is presented annually to a player sharing Stewart's respect for the traditions of the game, his commitment to uphold the game's heritage of charitable support and his professional and meticulous presentation of himself and the sport through his dress and conduct.
 
For golf fans, though, nothing could beat what transpired on a sunny Thursday afternoon at the above-mentioned U.S. Open at Olympia Fields. An opening round 5-under 65 left the crowd, the announcers, and even Tom and Bruce a little emotional.
 
His round included a holed 6-iron approach at the par-4 12th for eagle, and a 40-foot birdie putt on the par-3 7th that hung on the lip before falling into the cup, causing Watson to leap into the air, part surprise and part Im having the time of my life.
 
''You can only imagine,'' Watson said after the round. ''Put yourself in Bruce's situation and my situation, what it means to do well at this late stage in your life, playing in the tournament you want to win the most.
 
There are a lot of memories about the Open. I think first and foremost are the feelings and emotions that we had on the first day when I shot 65, we meaning Bruce and I, the magical moments of leading the U.S. Open, which caused really an outpouring of emotion from not only each other but from people around us, the players, the galleries, people from TV, you people. It's been heartwarming. I hope it translates into some action. That's what I hope it does.
 
Edwards, too, felt the love.
 
They were wonderful, they really were. All week long they were yelling my name, made me feel really good. It showed that people are really deep down nice and genuine and caring, and you can't ask for more than that in my opinion.
 
That day left two old friends, and a golfing nation, a little misty-eyed and showed the world that they still, if only for a day, were the best golfing combo in the world.

Editors Note: To learn more about ALS or to find out how to donate, visit www.driving4life.org
 
Related Links:
  • No. 1: Sorenstam's Season Transcends Wins
  • No. 2: Tiger Goes Majorless in 2003
  • No. 3: What a Year for Watson
  • No. 4: Player of Year Down to the Wire
  • No. 5: Elders Knock Kids Off Tour Perch
  • Getty Images

    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.

     

     

    Getty Images

    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.”

    Getty Images

    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.

    Getty Images

    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

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    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.”