Tiger the Whistle Stop Tour Pt 3

By Casey BiererJanuary 3, 2007, 5:00 pm
Editors note: Golf Channel business reporter Casey Bierer participated recently in Nike Golfs Whistle Stop Tour; a press and media junket that traveled a group of Nike execs and invited media to four cities in 48 hours. This column is the third entry of a six-part series chronicling the journey.
Heres a recipe we havent seen before. Take the following key ingredients: one Nike GV jet, four cities in 48 hours, three PGA TOUR stars - Tiger Woods, David Duval and Jason Gore, a number of key Nike Golf executives, five print journalists, one television reporter (me) and the launch of two new Nike drivers. Mix thoroughly. The result? Nikes Whistle Stop Tour (WST); a media junket extravaganza that, even by Nike standards, is unprecedented.
The assignment given to me by Golf Channel ' create a reporters first person video journal of the trip. Roll tape as much as possible. When in doubt shoot first, beg for forgiveness later. And, oh yeah, interview Tiger Woods. This was going to be fun.
Part 3
I believe I left off with the fact that it was snowing in Portland in the early morning of our anticipated departure to Los Angeles. There was accumulationground cover as it were. The shuttle van door had frozen shut. As we finally exited the shuttle van we heard, Welcome to Nike Air. Its slippery there. Watch your stepit might be a little icy in spots. Ice? Slippery? This language is not conducive to flying.
We were led through the Nike Air waiting area. Posh, oh man, it was posh. Through a set of double doors and it to a huge hanger, (maybe there arent any small hangers, I really dont know) white and very, very clean. Large banners with famous Nike athletes lined the walls. The one of Michael Jordan captured my attention. It was located, not surprisingly, almost directly in front of the nose of the first Gulfstream GV I encountered. Yeah, thats rightthe first one. I told you it was a big hanger. This GV, it was explained to me, was Phil Knights personal plane. Not for company use. Understandable, I suppose. I mean the guy founded Nike. He can have his own plane. It was, by the way, beautifully painted; white with yellow and black accenting and NIKE painted on each of the two aft engines. And clean, clean, clean.
In fact, after a couple of minutes getting adjusted to the somewhat surreal surroundings of this private jet hanger, thats what really stood out. Just how clean everything was. And nothing more so than the hanger floor. This might put it in perspective. If someone said to you youve got to have open heart surgery and they followed it up by saying you have to have it on the floor of Nikes hanger, youd say sureno problem. Thats how clean this floor was. A whiter, cleaner floor you have never seen. We were later told that the flooring is made of a special material, impenetrable to oils, grease, fuels and the like...its non-porous nature lending well to the frequency of applications of high polish. Judging by the gleam Id say they polish it like every five minutes or so.
On the far wall of the hanger was an enormous American flag. It must have been very large indeed for beneath it and off to one side were several vehicles: a pick-up truck, a sedan of some sort and a Hummer SUV. They looked like miniature toy models in comparison to the size of the American flag and the jets. Yup, the hanger was huge.
I kept walking towards jet No. 2. This one was also sparkling clean white but it had no markings. I rounded the nose of the plane and the boarding stairs came in to view. A gentleman was greeting passengers one by one. Hello, Im Captain Blair. Im your pilot on this trip. Youre welcome to go on board, he said with a big smile. Id find out later Captain Blair was always smiling.
Hi, Im Casey from the Golf Channel, I said, my mini-DV camera recording all the while. So, Captain Blair, I said, This weather going to affect us? The weather in Los Angeles is beautiful, replied Nikes GV jet pilot. Well be flying at mach eight-five at four-five-thousand feet. Should be a nice ride, said the youthful, smiling captain.
But Im thinking to myself he didnt really answer my question. I was asking him about the weather in Portland, not the weather in Los Angeles. Maybe he didnt hear me or maybe the cameras were throwing him off. I mean, heck, he must see its snowing to beat the band out there.
So, this plane has a good de-icing system? I ask. Absolutely, yes, replied Captain Blair. This plane has an excellent de-icing system.
With that I boarded the plane. Hey, when in Romeright? If Bob Wood is getting on the plane Im getting on the plane. In reality, I dont think we had much choice. The Nike Whistle Stop Tour was on a very tight schedule. We were due in Los Angeles at 8:45 a.m. for the first of a two-part day: Tiger Woods in the morning in L.A. and then David Duval in the afternoon in Scottsdale. Wouldnt do to be latenope, wouldnt be prudent.
Within moments of boarding the plane and taking our seats the door was shut and the ever smiling Captain Blair formally introduced himself as well as co-pilot Keith and flight attendant Allison. In no time we were pulled out of the hanger. One engine fired up and we began a slow, careful taxi out to the runway. Beautiful, stirring music was playing over the planes stereo system. Kind of an eerie music, really.
The taxiway was a blanket of fresh white snow. This didnt seem to bother anyone else on the plane. Then I heard my cameraman say, Everybody except the pilot and co-pilot grab a shovel. Well, at least someone else noticed the white wet stuff. No matter. The jets second main engine fired up and we turned on to the runway. With an initially gentle engines up ' then full power ' the Gulfstream GV was airborne.
You know the push-back in your seat you get during commercial jet takeoff? Well, the push-back feeling was more pronounced in the GV. Way more pronounced. This baby was airborne in a heartbeat. I could sense a sigh of relief from the Nike execs that there was no delay in spite of the bad weather. We were on our way to Los Angeles and we were on schedule.
In a matter of a couple of short hours wed be hanging out with Tiger Woods. I wonder if they serve breakfast on this baby.
Related Links:
  • Tiger and the Whistle Stop Tour, Part 2
  • Tiger and the Whistle Stop Tour, Part 1
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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

    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.”