Lewis captures Women's British Open

By Doug FergusonAugust 4, 2013, 9:47 pm

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – Stacy Lewis felt such a spiritual connection with St. Andrews that even when she was three behind with three to play, she never lost hope she could win the Women's British Open.

No way could she have scripted a finish like this.

Facing the scariest shot and the hardest hole on the Old Course - the approach to the 17th, the famous Road Hole - Lewis pictured a low 5-iron that a right-to-left wind would knock down and allow to bounce up the slope toward the flag without going over the back of the green.

''It's one of those shots you see in your head, but you don't really ever pull it off,'' Lewis said. ''And just off the club face, it was perfect.''

The ball settled 3 feet away for birdie, the best shot of the tournament, maybe the best of her career.

Then, she wisely used putter from 40 yards short of the 18th green, through the Valley of Sin to 25 feet. Lewis bent over and placed both hands on her knees after making the putt, a birdie-birdie finish that gave another special moment at the home of golf - her second major title.

Lewis saved her best for the final two holes of a marathon finish Sunday and closed with an even-par 72 for a two-shot victory over Na Yeon Choi and Hee Young Park. It ended a record drought for the Americans in the majors – 10 straight, all won by Asian players.

''It's unbelievable,'' Lewis said. ''It all happened so fast at the end. You're afraid for every shot, and all of a sudden you make a couple of birdies and it's over.''

It was over early for Inbee Park and her bid to become the first pro golfer to win four straight majors in a single season. Returning to the Old Course in the morning in calm conditions to complete 14 holes of her third round, she couldn't make a putt and lost ground. Park had a 74-78 finish and wound up 14 shots behind.

''I'm really relieved,'' she said. ''I really enjoyed this week, every moment I was here. But it's tough to be in the center of everything for a week, and I feel exhausted.''

The last time Lewis was on these hallowed grounds of golf was in 2008 for the Curtis Cup, her final event as an amateur, and she went 5-0 in her matches to lead the Americans to victory. The love affair continued this week, and her second big win at St. Andrews was even sweeter.

''I love the golf course more than anything. I love the history. I almost felt like I was meant to be here,'' Lewis said. ''I think I was happy being here all week, and I was comfortable. And I think that's a lot of the reason I'm here right now.''

Having the silver trophy at her side also required no less than her best golf over 36 holes Sunday.

The wind wasn't as bad as Saturday, when 40 mph gusts suspended play and forced 20 players go to 36 holes Sunday. But it was strong enough in the afternoon that Lewis was the only player at par or better from the last 21 groups that teed off.


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Choi had a three-shot lead with six holes to play until she had a pair of three-putt bogeys from 80 feet. Her hybrid was too strong on the 17th and hung up on the collar of rough at the back of the green. She missed a 6-foot par putt that ended her chances, and she closed with a 73.

Choi saw that Lewis had posted at 8-under 280, she just didn't know how she got there. And she couldn't believe it when she heard.

''She got birdie on 17 and 18? That's huge, especially this golf course,'' Choi said. ''I feel like I missed a couple putts out there, but still, she's playing well. She's playing better than me. I think that's why she won. I think I have to accept that.''

Hee Young Park, one of four players who shared the lead at some point in the final round, had three straight bogeys on the back nine and shot 73. Morgan Pressel had the 54-hole lead after a 71 in the wind-delayed third round that was played Sunday morning. Pressel was one shot behind until a double bogey on No. 12, and she never caught up. Pressel shot 76 and tied for fourth with Suzann Pettersen (74).

The consolation for Pressel was earning the last spot available from the world ranking to make her third straight Solheim Cup team.

It was the second time the Women's British Open was played at St. Andrews, and Lewis provided another quality winner. Lorena Ochoa won in 2007.

Lewis last year became the first American since Beth Daniel in 1994 to win LPGA player of the year, which is based on a points system. Then, she won twice early this season to reach No. 1 in the world. That lasted only until Park won the first major and kept right on going.

Sunday was another stage for Lewis to show her grit.

She was diagnosed with scoliosis when she was 11, so severe that she wore a back brace for 18 hours every day from age 11 until she got out of high school, and then had to have surgery when that didn't correct the curvature in her spine.

She went on to win an NCAA title at Arkansas, star at St. Andrews in the Curtis Cup and then take the 54-hole lead in her first U.S. Women's Open as a pro. Lewis won the Kraft Nabisco in 2011, the last American major champion in women's golf until her remarkable performance Sunday.

Nothing was more impressive than her 5-iron on the 17th, one of the toughest par 4s in golf that starts with a blind tee shot over the corner of the Old Course Hotel. Lewis drilled it in the middle of the fairway, and couldn't remember how far she had for her second shot. With the wind, it didn't matter. This is the kind of shot that must be felt, and her 5-iron was hit with the right trajectory and line to catch the slopes perfectly and feed toward the hole.

''That might be one of the best of my career,'' Lewis said.

Oddly enough, it was Lewis who said she would like to play the role of spoiler at St. Andrews to stop Inbee Park's bid for history. With the trophy at her side, Lewis marveled at what Park had accomplished this year.

''I don't know if you'll ever see three in a row again,'' Lewis said. ''That's pretty incredible.''

Lewis now is at one in a row, headed to the Solheim Cup in two weeks on a high, and then to France in September for the fifth and final LPGA Tour major at the Evian Championship. She didn't mind losing the No. 1 ranking because Park earned it. Lewis looked strong enough Sunday at St. Andrews to believe she can get it back one day.

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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.”