Stat attack!: The Memorial Tournament review

By John AntoniniJune 2, 2014, 1:57 am

There’s nothing like a birdie on the 18th hole to make you want to come back for more. Hideki Matsuyama sure thinks so. After making birdie on the 18th hole at Muirfield Village during the first three rounds of the Memorial, he came to the last hole Sunday needing another to force a playoff with Kevin Na at 13-under 275. One stroke off the lead after playing the 16th and 17th holes in three over, he broke his driver in disgust after he thought he hit his tee ball into the fairway bunkers. But his ball stayed on the fairway, and he hit the green and made his putt to tie Na. Matsuyama won with a par on the first playoff hole and became the first winner in 2013-14 to birdie the 18th hole in all four rounds. He also became the fifth player to make the Memorial his first PGA Tour victory.

Players whose first PGA Tour win was the Memorial

 Year Player
 2014 Hideki Matsuyama
 2010 Justin Rose
 1994 Tom Lehman
 1991 Kenny Perry
 1981 Keith Fergus

Matsuyama made eight birdies, six pars and four bogeys or worse in an up-and-down Sunday that still only included 26 putts. He led the field in distance to the pin of approach shots at just 20 feet, 1 inch, including five approaces on the back nine Sunday that were within 10 feet of the hole. For the week his approach shots averaged 25 feet from the flagstick.

Memorial leaders in proximity to the hole of approach shot

 Player Approach distance to pin Approaches within 10 feet Finish
 Hideki Matsuyama 25 ft., 0 in. 18 Won
 Dustin Johnson 25 ft., 11 in. 13 T-46 
 Freddie Jacobson 26 ft., 1 in. 17 T-49
 Bubba Watson 26 ft. 1 in. 20 3
 Billy Hurley III 26 ft., 11 in. 12 T-37

Matsuyama was so laser sharp with his approaches that he won despite having a negative value in strokes gained/putting, losing -0.026 strokes to the field for the week on the greens. He is one of three winners in 2013-14 to have a negative strokes gained average, although it should be noted that during Jimmy Walker’s win at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am only one of the three courses was measured by lasers.

PGA Tour winners in 2013-14 with a negative strokes gained/putting score

 Player Tournament Strokes gained/putting Rank
 Hideki Matsuyama Memorial -.026 46
 Steven  Bowditch Valero Texas Open -.606 64
 Jimmy Walker AT&T Pebble Beach -.332 44

Matsuyama is also one of six players in the last five years to shoot four rounds of 70 or lower during the Memorial at Murifield Village. The 22-year-old Japanese star had rounds of 70-67-69-69—275 at Jack Nicklaus’ pride and joy. Four of the six players went on to win the tournament.

Players with four rounds of 70 or better at Muirfield Village

 Year Player Scores Finish
 2014 Hideki Matsuyama 70-67-69-69—275 Won
 2013 Matt Kuchar 68-70-70-68—276 Won
 2011 Steve Stricker 68-67-69-68—272 Won
 2010 Justin Rose 65-69-70-66—270 Won
 2010 Bo Van Pelt 70-69-68-69—276 T-3
 2010 Ryan Moore 70-69-70-68—277 T-5

It was the second runner-up finish of the season for Kevin Na, who completed his final-round 64 long before Matusuyama finished, and almost won the tournament outright while watching the final groups come back to him from a couch on the clubhouse. Earlier this year, Na was second to John Senden at the Valspar Championship. That week he failed to hold the 54-hole lead and shot a final-round 72. This week at Muirfield Village, Na’s 64 was one stroke off the final-round record at the Memorial. Interetingly none of the players who have shot 64 or better in the last round at Muirfield Village won that week.

Lowest final-round scores at the Memorial

 Score Player Year Finish
 63 Kenny Perry 2007 3
 64 Kevin Na 2014 2
 64 Greg Norman 1994 2
 64 Steve Pate 1992 T-42
 64 Fred Couples 1987 T-24
 64 Mark McCumber 1984 T-10

Na’s 64 and Rory McIlroy’s opening 63 were among the lowest scores shot at Murifield Village in the last 10 years. They are among nine players to shoot as low as eight under on the par-72 course since 2005. Again, incredibly enough, none of them would win the tournament. The last player to win the Memorial while shooting at least one round of 64 or below was Tiger Woods in 2000 when he shot a second-round 63 and finished at 19-under 269, five strokes better than Ernie Els and Justin Leonard.

Lowest single-round scores at Memorial: 2005-2014

 Score Player Year Round Finish
 62 Ricky Barnes 2010 3 T-3
 62 Adam Scott 2007 2 T-5
 63 Rory McIlroy 2014 1 T-15
 63 Geoff Ogilvy 2009 3 T-10
 63 Kenny Perry 2007 4 3
 64 Kevin Na 2014 4 2
 64 Luke Donald 2009 1 T-14
 64 Jim Furyk 2005 3 T-8
 64 David Toms 2005 3 T-8

The second-place finish was the fifth of Na’s career, and he is one of seven players with multiple runner-up finishes in 2013-14. Of that group only Bubba Watson and Duston Johnson have also won this season.

Players with two second-place finishes in 2013-14

 Player Runner-up finishes
 Graeme DeLaet  Farmers Insurance, Waste Management Phoenix
 Jim Furyk Wells Fargo Championship, Players
 Dustin Johnson  AT&T Pebble Beach, Northern Trust Open
 Kevin Na Valspar Championship, Memorial
 Ryan Palmer Humana Challenge, Honda Classic
 Jordan Spieth Hyundai T of C, Masters
 Bubba Watson Waste Management Phoenix, WGC-Cadillac


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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.”