Knox's WGC win brings Ryder Cup (almost) into play

By Doug FergusonNovember 11, 2015, 12:15 am

SHANGHAI - Russell Knox was the center of attention after winning the HSBC Champions, and not just with the sponsors.

After his press conference, he posed with four flight attendants from Emirates Airlines. Next up was a photo with the owner and executive staff of Casillero del Diablo, which supplied the wine for the week.

When he sat back down to sign flags and caps for HSBC, another man approached whom Knox did not recognize.

''Hello, Russell. I'm Keith Waters with the European Tour.''

Waters is the chief operating officer, and he was equipped with all the answers Knox did not know and was too overwhelmed to ask at the moment - mainly, the process of becoming a European Tour member and how that relates to the Ryder Cup.

Sensing that the 30-year-old from Scotland was still trying to digest his first big win - a World Golf Championship, no less - Waters gave him a business card with his mobile number and told him he would be available any time. And there was one more thing.

''Also just so you know, Darren Clarke is going to be calling you,'' Waters said.

''We'll be in touch for sure,'' Knox replied with a grin.

Clarke is the European captain for the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine. Odds are, he has been on the phone with Matthew Fitzpatrick, Thomas Pieters and any other European who appears to have even a remote chance of qualifying.

To be realistic, Knox barely has that.

Is he interested in the Ryder Cup? Of course. Even though he has lived in Florida his entire professional life, he grew up in Inverness and is proud of his Scottish heritage. His sister, Diane, is a popular radio DJ in Scotland.

''Obviously, it's going to be a goal of mine to make the European Ryder Cup team, and this obviously springboards me to a place where ... I mean, yesterday I was nowhere near it,'' Knox said. ''I have no idea where I stand on making the team or what I need to do. But I look forward to finding out and giving it a run, that's for sure.''

Much will depend on what European Tour chief Keith Pelley announces next week in Dubai on a new membership policy.

One of the options is to require a minimum of five European Tour events (down from 13), but that number would not include the majors or WGCs. So it really would be no change at all, except for making it practical for players who have slipped out of the top 50 - such as Luke Donald andGraeme McDowell - and no longer are automatically eligible for the eight biggest events in world golf.

For Knox, that would mean adding four tournaments to what he already plays.

Knox is among dozens of Europeans who live in America and play the majority of their golf on the PGA Tour. But his career is more closely in line with the likes of Carl Pettersson and Martin Lairdthan with McDowell, Ian Poulter or a resurgent Paul Casey.

Pettersson was born in Sweden and moved to North Carolina when he was in high school. Laird is from Glasgow, played at Colorado State and never went back to Europe until he already had his PGA Tour card. One year he played the Scottish Open at Loch Lomond, and a local radio reporter aware only of his accent innocently asked Laird why it had taken so long for him to do well on his home soil.

''This is my first event,'' Laird said.

Knox played 99 times on either the PGA Tour or the Web.com Tour before making his European Tour debut last year in the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart, not far from where he grew up. He played his first British Open this year - he was the alternate who replaced Rory McIlroy when he tore up his ankle playing soccer.

Knox was the only player keeping the third round from being completed Saturday evening at Sheshan International because he thought it was too dark to play the final hole. That led some in the British press to jokingly refer to him as the ''American'' because of the minor inconvenience. When he returned the next morning and made birdie, and then never lost the lead on Sunday, he became a Scot again.

It was all in good fun, but to be fair, only the diligent golf press in the U.K. knew much about Knox, and for good reason. This was his first win on any of the six main tours around the world. Knox had never been remotely close to the top 50 in the world until he won the HSBC Champions and shot all the way up to No. 31. Now he's the 10th-highest European in the world ranking.

He is guaranteed two majors (Masters, PGA Championship) and a WGC, and he's likely to get in the other two WGCs. Whether he takes up European Tour membership and makes a run at the Ryder Cup, Knox ultimately concluded that ''it's a great problem to have.''

Besides, it beats the alternative.

''I always joked with my caddie that if I ever won,'' he said, ''I was going to retire.''

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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.”