Annikas Motives Purely Personal
Theres certain things I can control and certain things I cant, she said, realizing that people are going to put their own spin on the situation. Id just like to emphasize that Im not putting the guys on test here - or men against women. Far from that. This is a test for me, personally.
So, if I can just relate that to them ' I mean, theyve got to trust me, this is why Im doing it. I wouldnt start to get into any political things, I have nothing to do with that. Thats not my goal here. Im dont want to put the guys on the defensive or anything. I just want to play against the best and see what happens.
Life has been a whirlwind for Sorenstam since it was announced earlier this week that she would jump out of the LPGA for one week and try the PGA Tour. Thursday night was one more distraction, with Sorenstam taking questions for an hour.
One theme that keeps coming through is that she will do what is best for the task at hand. Normally she goes into a tournament thinking about a win. She is going into this one blind, with the goal of just playing as well as she can.
I gotta believe in what I can do. I have no idea how these guys play, she said. Im going to go out there and play the course the way its set up. If I play well, I have no idea where that will put me.
But Im going to have a positive attitude. Thats the way youve got to approach this ' (that) this is a test. You know, if I didnt believe in myself, I wouldnt do this and I wouldnt be a professional golfer today. I love the challenges and Im gonna be aggressive.
Sorenstam picked Colonial because it is not overly long, but it requires players to hit all the shots. Ninety percent of the tour courses, she said, wouldnt be a candidate because of their length or because they dont have the same shot requirements. She mentioned the characteristics of a Corey Pavin, who has won the Colonial twice.
Youve got to be a player that can maneuver the golf ball, and have control of your shots, Sorenstam said. Corey Pavin displays exactly that ' he might not be long off the tee, but he hits in the middle of the fairway and can hit an iron to perfection onto the green next to the flag.
That, I believe, is my strength. I would never contend in a driving competition. That is not what I am trying to prove, I am just trying to prove that I can play a course that will fit my game and hit from A to B.
Driving, though, certainly isnt Sorenstams weak point. Her average last year was only 265 yards, long by LPGA standards but far down the mens tour ladder. However, she said that 265 is not a true indication of what she can do now.
Id like to say its longer than that (265) she said. I got this new driver in September. If you look at my average since September, Id say its higher than that. How much I dont know. In Tulsa (at an LPGA tournament late last year) I hit a few drives ' obviously my best drives ' 280, 290. I would probably average 270 if I go play today.
That would be more than sufficient at Colonial, where many of the doglegs mean that 260-270 yards is all a golfer can hit, anyway. Many of the men will be using long irons or a 3-wood off the tee. Sorenstam will be using the driver, and shes one of the best in the world at putting it where shes aiming.
And Sorenstam said that from the 7-iron on in, she hits the same club as most men. She mentioned an exhibition she played in December with David Duval, Jack Nicklaus and Lorena Ochoa. Duval and she hit the same club when they had 7-iron or less. When it was 170 yards or more, she acknowledged she needed one or two clubs more than Duval.
At Augusta National ' a course that plays quite long because of the hilly terrain ' Sorenstam said she shoots about even par from the middle tees, about 2 over when she plays all the way back at the tips. She hasnt played the course since it has been redone, though, she added.
Sorenstam admitted the thought of playing a mens event has crossed her mind for a long time now. But not until this year did she actually think it was possible.
My husband and I have always talked about, I wonder how you would play against the men? You know, on their golf course, she said. I watch a lot of PGA (tour) tournaments on TV, and I thought about it for a quick second. But then, the conversation would die and we wouldnt talk about it.
But Ive had it in the back of my mind. So when the question was asked, it wasnt totally strange to me. It was more like, Hey, I might have an opportunity! So, yeah, I would do it a heartbeat.
Suzy Whaley deserves the credit for making it possible, she said. The Connecticut head professional played a PGA sectional and won it, albeit from shorter tees than the men. For her efforts, she gets to play in the Greater Hartford Open. She emboldened Annika to think about an exemption for herself, Sorenstam said.
I think its Suzy Whaley, if something set the stage. She qualified last year and there was all the talk about her doing it. Shes a teaching professional, so therefore the discussion was, what happens if somebody who does play for a living does this? she said.
The Colonial is played at the end of May, prior to the Hartford tournament. Therefore, Sorenstam will have already have played in a mens event before Whaley does. But this in no way is meant to one-up Whaley, Sorenstam said. And Whaley said she is thrilled that Sorenstam gets the opportunity.
This has nothing to do with Suzys eligibility playing that event, Sorenstam said. She earned her right in there. This is nothing to steal her thunder, by any means.
She is a golfer, first and foremost, who wants to push back the envelope and see where it takes her.
Ive looked at myself as a golfer and said, Where do I want to take my game? What are my goals? Ive always liked a challenge.
You know, I really didnt look at it as making history or anything like that. This is an opportunity for me to showcase my game and see how good I am. This is a true test for me, and thats as far as Ive stretched it.
Lincicome grouped with two rookies in Barbasol
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.
Lincicome thrilled by reception from male pros
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.”
Stunner: Inbee Park steps aside for Int. Crown
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.
Na: I can admit, 'I went through the yips'
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.”
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.”