Shooting at History in 59 Easy Steps

By George WhiteMarch 19, 2003, 5:00 pm
Friday, March 16, 2001 do you remember where YOU were?
Annika Sorenstam was in Phoenix at 8:40 a.m., getting ready to make history. Of course she didnt know it yet. But in the space of less than five hours, she would do something that no woman has ever done ' she would shoot 59 in an LPGA tournament.
Of course, she had to share the spotlight that week with Tiger ' doesnt she always? Tiger Woods was busy doing something spectacular himself that week. He birdied the 18th hole at Bay Hill after first conking a spectator, and won by a single stroke over Phil Mickelson. You cant get much more dramatic than that. Unless, of course, you pick that week to uncork a 59.
Sorenstam was paired at the Standard Register Ping (now the Safeway Ping) that day with her sister, Charlotta, and Meg Mallon. Want a little spookiness in this story? Charlotta and Mallon were also in the same threesome with Se Ri Pak when Pak shot a 61 at the Farr Kroger Classic in 1998 ' then an LPGA record.
Want a little more spookiness? Charlotta missed the cut that Friday and Annika spent the evening of her magic 59 at the nearby home of Charlottas, preparing dinner and consoling little sis. None of this going out and turning the town upside down to celebrate.
And yet more spookiness? The girls father, Tom, just happened to pick this week to travel from his home in Sweden to be in the gallery. He telephoned his wife with an update every two holes ' at a cost of $12 a minute.
But there she was at 8:40, starting on hole No. 10, lining her drive down the middle on the 534-yard par 5. She hit her second shot short of the green, wedged up to seven feet. Her putt dropped in over the lip, and she had it ' birdie.
Of course, that wasnt too unusual that week at Moon Valley Country Club. Birdies werent too rare on the par-5 hole. She birdied No. 11 ' her second, a 157-yard par 3, with a nine-foot putt, and it still didnt get much attention.
When she rolled in a 30-footer for her third birdie in a row, a few people perked up. This could obviously be a good day, they thought. And more heads began to jerk when she birdied her fourth in a row after hitting a sand wedge to four feet.
By the time she had gotten around to her eighth ' incidentally, birdieing every single hole ' she had the attention of every spectator on the course, as well as every player. Number 16 ' her seventh ' was a difficult 414-yarder, but she made it look easy with a driver, 4-wood to 10 feet, and another bullseye putt. The eighth she got with an 18-footer. Hey - 8-under through eight holes is guaranteed to get you noticed, even if youre Annika Sorenstam.
The ninth, at 401 yards, was her first snafu. She could do no better than make par.
I actually told my caddie on the ninth tee, I need a par now because I am so nervous. I need to just come down to where I know I belong, and then we go from there, said Sorenstam.
I mean, I hit the middle of the green, and I wasnt aggressive at all. I needed a par. I was just ' I was so nervous at the time. It was the only par I wished for.
But there she was on her 10th ' the courses first hole ' with another birdie, a nine-foot putt.
It was unfortunate that she was now playing the front side. ESPN had laid cable on the final nine, not the first nine. That meant that the cameraman had to shoot Sorenstams final holes with a hand-held camera, racing in to the production truck after each hole to get the film on the air. By now the news had reached past the golf course and was beginning to trickle out that Annika had an excellent chance of breaking 60.
She ripped off four more consecutive birdies ' her 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th ' before finally hitting the wall. She now was 12-under through 13, needing only one more to get to the magic 13-under. Surely she would get it.
But she missed a nine-footer at her 14th, a 20-footer at her 15th and a 30-footer at the 16th, and suddenly Sorenstam had just two holes left. Her 17th, though, was a 476-yard par 5, and for Annika not to make birdie would have been, well, shocking.
She hit her drive in the fairway ' as she had done every hole. She reached the green with a 7-wood, the ball dying 25 feet from the hole. She had no trouble in two-putting, giving her the Holy Grail of 13-under.
On her 18th, she was a little weak-kneed with the prospect of shooting ' 58? She teed her 4-wood on the 383-yarder and absolutely crushed it, again reached the fairway. A sand wedge was next and she lobbed up a rainbow that died just nine feet away.
Knees shaking now, she settled in over the putt ' and missed by the narrowest of margins when it creased the lip of the cup. But it was a simple tap-in, and there she had it ' the first 59 ever by a woman.
Sorenstam had done it, played almost perfectly, hitting all the fairways, all the greens, and needing only 25 putts. Eleven putts were from nine feet or longer.
That day Ill never forget, Annika said later. I mean, it was obviously a career round.
Actually, I didnt hit the ball very well on the range. But then I just got off to such an incredible start. I didnt do anything differently. I didnt eat anything different. I just know its possible ' and thats what I learned from that day.
Unfortunately, that was only Friday, and she had to play two more days. And unfortunately, Pak sizzled the next two days, shooting a 63 and then a 67.
Sorenstam, though, had just enough. She shot 69-68 and won by two strokes. Game, set, and match to Mrs. 59.


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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.”