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For one day, Potter was better than the best

By Doug FergusonFebruary 12, 2018, 2:59 am

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. - For one day at Pebble Beach, Ted Potter Jr. was better than the best in the world.

Look back even further, and his three-shot victory in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am is even more remarkable.

He played so many mini-tour events that he lost track of how many he won, some of them only two-day tournaments that paid enough for a week's worth of food and gas. His biggest paycheck was $33,000. More recently, Potter was out of golf for two years recovering from a broken ankle that required two surgeries - one to insert 12 screws and two plates, another to remove all that hardware. There was no guarantee he would make it back.

Potter started the final round Sunday tied with Dustin Johnson, the No. 1 player in the world for the last year. Throughout the day, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day each made a run at the 34-year-old Floridian who had 46 missed cuts and only four top 10s in his previous 83 starts on the PGA Tour.

Potter beat them all.

He was the one chatting with Clint Eastwood and posing with the crystal trophy that comes with a $1,332,000 check and a return to the Masters.

''I'm so happy right now to get it done today, especially against the world No. 1, playing with him today,'' Potter said. ''The win here at Pebble is just unbelievable.''

Just don't call it a fluke.

Potter closed with a 3-under 69 and didn't drop a shot after a three-putt bogey on the opening hole. Making it tougher was playing in a threesome behind a foursome in the pro-am format, having too much time to think about the stage, the contenders and the opportunity.

He never flinched.

The key moment came behind the green on the par-3 seventh, the most picturesque at Pebble Beach. He and Johnson were side-by-side in light rough to a firm green that ran away from them. Johnson chipped nicely to 4 feet. Potter put a little more loft on his shot and holed it for a birdie and a two-shot lead.

No one got closer the rest of the way.


Full-field scores from the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am

AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am: Articles, photos and videos


He wound up winning by three shots over Johnson (72), Mickelson (67), Day (70) and Chez Reavie (68).

Potter stepped awkwardly off a curb at the Canadian Open in 2014 and broke his ankle so badly that he didn't play another tournament until Canada two years later. He wound up having to work his way back to the PGA Tour through the developmental tour last year.

The 18th hole gave him plenty of time to consider how far he had come.

Day, trying to make eagle for his only chance at winning, hooked a driver off the deck over the sea wall. He found the ball on a mixture of sand and pebbles and played it off the beach , over the sea wall, over the green and into a bunker. Troy Merritt hit his shot into a cypress tree in front of the 18th green and it stayed up there, meaning he had to go back and play another shot.

Potter waited patiently, tapped in for a par to finish at 17-under 270 and only then did he show how much it meant. His voice choked with emotion.

''It's been a struggle,'' he said. ''You break your ankle and you don't know what's going to happen with your swing, with your career. It's unbelievable right now. ... This has been a blast this week.''

It was another disappointment for Johnson going into the final round. He now won only five out of 12 times when he took at least a share of the 54-hole lead into the final round. He fell back Sunday with a tee shot so bad on the par-3 fifth that it sailed over the edge of the cliff and he did well to escape with bogey, and then a shot he misjudged in a tough wind on No. 8 that went into the back bunker for another bogey.

''A few iron shots cost me a few bogeys,'' said Johnson, who played Pebble in 70-72 on the weekend. ''Two under in 36 holes is not too good as well as I thought I was playing. I'd like to have put a little more pressure on Ted.''

Mickelson began his move late with three birdies in a four-hole stretch ended at the par-3 17th . Needing an eagle to have any chance, his approach to the 18th was a few yards short and found a bunker. He failed to get up and down.

Mickelson had his highest finish since he was runner-up to Henrik Stenson in the 2016 British Open. Coming off a tie for fifth at the Phoenix Open, this is the first time he has put together consecutive top 5s since he won back-to-back in 2013 at the Scottish Open and British Open.

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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.”