Notes: Tour needs players for Rio test event

By Doug FergusonJanuary 19, 2016, 10:02 pm

HONOLULU - With golf joining the Olympics for the first time since 1904, the PGA Tour is trying to put together a test event for the new course in Rio de Janeiro.

The tour is having a tough time finding anyone to go because of the crowded 2016 schedule.

''We've got a good list of players who are, quote, interested in coming,'' PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said. ''But we don't have a long list of players who are committed to coming. That's the case with the guys who are currently playing on the PGA Tour, just because of the schedule, looking ahead to the summer, seeing the compaction. So I don't know.''

The test event is planned for March 8, and the tour has lined up a charter flight for its members.

Every sport must have an event at the Olympic venue ahead of the Rio Games. Finchem said if golf can pull together this outing, it will count as the test event.

''We can do that with any combination of players that are being talked to,'' he said. ''Also, I think it's probably most important to get international players. We don't know how it's going to wind up. We've got transportation issues and a sponsor the next week that's watching and saying, 'Am I going to lose anybody?'''

The World Golf Championship at Doral ends on March 6 and is followed by the Valspar Championship, where Jordan Spieth is the defending champion. His agent, Jay Danzi, said the tour approached Spieth about a trip to Rio, but he didn't want it to interfere with his title defense at Innisbrook.

The European Tour and Asian Tour have a co-sanctioned event in Thailand that week. The LPGA Tour is off, though its best players will be in Singapore on March 6 for the HSBC Women's Champions.

British Open champion Zach Johnson said he was asked. His foundation has a retreat that week. Jimmy Walker and Rickie Fowler also were approached and decided against a flight to Brazil. It's a month before the Masters, with tournaments like the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Dell Match Play and Shell Houston Open leading up to Augusta.

Finchem is eager to have the test event, and not just to tick off that box.

''We want to get some good players on there so if there are things we're not seeing ... you know as well I do, we build these golf courses and 'Oh, it's great.' And then you get the best players in the world on there and we've got 10 problems,'' he said. ''They see things you didn't notice. So we want to get that done.''

He also described the Gil Hanse design as having a ''hangover'' from environmental protests and legal challenges that delayed the project.

''We want to get the word out that it's a good golf course,'' Finchem said.


HOMECOMING: The Golf Channel on NBC crew will have some fond memories during the CareerBuilder Challenge this week.

Tommy Roy is the lead golf producer and has no small amount of history in the California desert. Roy first worked for NBC Sports at the Bob Hope Classic in 1979 as a volunteer runner. Fourteen years later, Roy made his debut as a golf producer at the 1993 Bob Hope Classic.

Johnny Miller will start his year at the tournament, which also is appropriate. Not only did Miller win the Bob Hope Classic in consecutive years (1975-76), this is where he made his on-air debut as a golf analyst for NBC in 1990.

NBC last had the tournament in 1998. The Bob Hope Classic went to ABC for eight years before becoming a fixture on the Golf Channel.

In some respects, it will be a reunion. Five members of that NBC crew that televised the Hope in 1998 will be back this year - Roy, Miller, Dan Hicks, Roger Maltbie and Gary Koch. Hicks was a tower reporter in 1998. Now he does play-by-play with Miller.


SCOTT'S DECISION: Adam Scott has made it clear over the last several months that the Olympics aren't a priority. What he hasn't said is whether he will represent Australia if eligible, which is likely.

''I said it's not my priority at all, and that means I'll make a decision at the very last moment whether it fits or not,'' Scott said. ''It's not the main focus of the year. It's not what I built my schedule around. If it fits in good at the time, I'll play. And if it doesn't, then I won't.

The first decision he has to make is on May 6.

Players have been getting emails from the PGA Tour over the last few weeks about the ''Registered Testing Pool'' regarding the anti-doping program for the Olympics, which is far more stringent that the tour's program. All players who would qualify for the Olympics on May 6 must be entered in the pool.

If players become eligible after May 6, then they are added to the pool and stay there until the final Olympic Ranking on July 11. But if players choose not to compete in the Olympics, they will be removed from the pool and not allowed to be added at a later date.


ELECTION TIME: Jimmy Walker, Kevin Streelman and Charley Hoffman have been selected to run as co-chairmen for the Player Advisory Council. The two players with the most votes will start a three-year term on the board starting in 2017.

The voting ends Feb. 15.

Others serving on the PAC this year are Blayne Barber, Ricky Barnes, Roberto Castro, Stewart Cink, Graham DeLaet, Harris English, Jim Furyk, Matt Kuchar, Dicky Pride, John Senden, Brendon Todd, Johnson Wagner and Tim Wilkinson.

One streak remains. An international player has never been voted chairman of the PAC.


BELL HONORED: Judy Bell is in the World Golf Hall of Fame and in the history books as the first president of the U.S. Golf Association. She receives another honor this year the U.S. Open as the winner of the Bob Jones Award.

The award is the highest honor from the USGA and honors a person who demonstrates the spirit, character and respect for the game shown by the amateur great.

She was president of the USGA in 1996-97.

Bell played in 38 USGA championships. She played on two winning Curtis Cup teams and was captain twice. The Women's State Team Championship Trophy was named after a year after her two-year tenure as president.

She was among the first women to become honorary members of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews.


DIVOTS: Padraig Harrington reported no issues with his knee in his first two tournaments since surgery to repair his meniscus. He was 24-under par at Kapalua and Waialae and was par or better for all eight rounds. ... The first of three playoff events for the Charles Schwab Cup on the PGA Tour Champions will be held at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, California. Sherwood previously held the World Challenge that Tiger Woods hosts until 2013. ... The third Latin America Amateur will be held in 2017 at Panama Golf Club. ... George Peper, the former editor-in-chief at Golf magazine, has been selected to receive the 2016 PGA Lifetime Achievement Award in Journalism.


STAT OF THE WEEK: Greg Owen has three top 10s in the last year. Two of them were at PGA Tour events won by Fabian Gomez.


FINAL WORD: ''Am I not supposed to be grounded? You are who you are. Why change based on anything you've done?'' - Jordan Spieth.

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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.”