Day closes out wire-to-wire victory at Bay Hill

By Doug FergusonMarch 20, 2016, 10:31 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Arnold Palmer was watching him. Tiger Woods was texting him.

Jason Day, his ball in a bunker on the 18th hole, was only thinking about how to navigate nearly 100 feet in two shots to get the par he needed to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Sunday.

Out of sorts with his swing all afternoon, Day delivered his best at the end.

The bunker shot came out just as he pictured, and Day made the 4-foot par putt to close with a 2-under 70 and outlast Kevin Chappell for his first win of the year.

''I was able to walk up there and have a special moment with the King,'' Day said. ''That's something I always wanted to do.''

He never imagined having to work this hard.

There was a four-man sprint over the final two hours at Bay Hill, and it was all about who made the fewest mistakes. Day got his out of the way early. He lost a two-shot lead on the front nine, recovered with a 9-iron out of the rough and over a bunker to a foot on the ninth hole for birdie, and then produced two clutch shots at the end.

Day was one shot behind Chappell, who was in trouble on the 18th hole, when he hit 5-iron to 12 feet on the par-3 17th and made birdie. Chappell made his lone bogey of the back nine on the final hole and shot 69, and then could only wait to see if Day could beat him.

''I had a chance to win, and that's all I can ask for,'' Chappell said after his fourth runner-up finish on the PGA Tour, and second this season.

From a reasonable lie in the right rough on the 18th, Day took the water out of play and went into the front left bunker. With water behind him, Day blasted the ball far enough to let it roll out to just 4 feet behind the hole.

''I knew it was a good shot,'' he said. ''It was exactly what I wanted to do.''


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Day, who finished at 17-under 271, became the first wire-to-wire winner (no ties) at Bay Hill since Fred Couples in 1992. His eighth career PGA Tour victory moved him to No. 2 in the world and gave him a chance to overtake Jordan Spieth next week at the Dell Match Play.

And with the Masters looming, Day joins a long list of players who are on their games. Adam Scott won the first two events in Florida. Charl Schwartzel won last week. Day's victory meant for the first time since 1993 the Florida swing was won by major champions.

Day was most satisfied by winning without his best stuff. He said he never felt comfortable over any shot, and it showed in his face as he looked on with uncertainty at so many shots. He was patient enough to wait for his chance, and he seized it with the 5-iron on No. 17 and the bunker shot on the 18th.

''It's one of those tournaments that the biggest guys usually win,'' Day said.

One of those big guys was Woods, an eight-time winner at Bay Hill and now somewhat of a mentor to Day. He said they talk occasionally and text frequently, and he received a text from Woods on Sunday morning with a typical message: ''Just be yourself and stay in your world.''

It was a heartache for Chappell, dealing with a sinus ailment he picked up from his young son that drained his energy. Chappell took the lead for the last time at 17 under with a two-putt birdie on the par-5 16th, followed by a par save from a tough shot in the bunker on No. 17. His tee shot on the 18th went right and buried into deep grass, leaving him no option but to lay up.

Chappell hit wedge to 25 feet and before he took hit the par putt, he heard the cheer behind him as Day made his birdie.

''Being honest, kind of had me rattled a little bit,'' Chappell said.

He left his par putt well short and made bogey, signed his card and watched a TV monitor for Day's bunker shot.

''It's obviously those things - one of many - why he's been the No. 1 player in the world, and why I'm the 150th player in the world,'' Chappell said. ''You just can't bogey the last when you're in contention, and hats off to Jason. He played well, real clutch down the stretch. And I'll learn from this and get better.''

Troy Merritt, playing in the final group with Day, was seemingly out of the picture until he started the back nine with five straight birdies, the last one by holing out a bunker shot from 40 feet. Merritt wasn't done. He chipped in for par from behind the 17th green to stay one shot behind Day. His approach went into the water on the 18th, and he made double bogey for a 71 to tie for third with Henrik Stenson.

Stenson was the first to fall back by failing to save par on the 14th and hitting 4-iron into the water on the par-5 16th for another bogey. He shot 71.

All of them had at least a share of the lead on the back nine.

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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.”