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Mickelson on U.S. Open controversy: 'Toughen up'

By Ryan LavnerJune 16, 2018, 9:26 pm

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – Phil Mickelson had a birthday to forget Saturday at the U.S. Open.

In one of his most bizarre moments in a career full of them, Mickelson intentionally hit a moving ball on the 13th hole to prevent it from racing off the front of the green. He was docked two shots under Rule 14-5 – and recorded a 10 on the hole – and then defiantly stated afterward that he knew the rules and decided that he’d rather take the penalty than play Ping-Pong around the severely undulating green at Shinnecock Hills.

“At that time, I just didn’t feel like going back and forth and hitting the same shot over,” he said after shooting a third-round 81, which matched his career-worst score at the U.S. Open. “I took the two-shot penalty and moved on. It’s my understanding of the rules. I’ve had multiple times where I’ve wanted to do that. I just finally did.”

On his 48th birthday, Mickelson was already 4 over par for the day when he found trouble on the 366-yard 13th, which has played as one of the most difficult holes at Shinnecock this week.

After misfiring long with his approach, his pitch shot carried over the green, then he chipped past the flag again. When his 15-footer for bogey raced past the cup, and appeared on the verge of racing off the front of the green, Mickelson jogged to catch up with his ball, then swatted it back toward the hole.



“No question, it was going to go down in the same spot behind the bunker,” he said. “I wasn’t going to have a shot.”

His playing partner, Andrew “Beef” Johnston, stared at Mickelson in disbelief.

“I said, ‘That’s one of the strangest things I’ve ever seen,’ and then just started laughing,” Johnston said. “I think it’s just a moment of madness.”

Mickelson walked off the green with an 8, then was told by a rules official that he’d be assessed a two-shot penalty for playing a moving ball. He said afterward that he was just using the rules to his advantage.


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“In that situation, I was just going back and forth,” he said. “I would gladly take the two shots over continuing that display.”

But social media erupted at what was perceived as a serious breach of etiquette by Mickelson, one of the most beloved players in the game.

John Bodenhamer, the USGA’s senior managing director of championships and governance, said that the rules committee decided that Rule 1-2 did not apply – because “Phil didn’t purposely deflect or stop the ball,” such as stopping a ball from going out of bounds – and thus spared Mickelson from disqualification.

“He didn’t deflect it or stop it,” Bodenhamer said. “He played a moving ball. He made a stroke at a moving ball, which is explicitly covered under 14-5.”

Mickelson said that disrespecting the game wasn’t his intent, that he didn’t think the move would damage his reputation, and that any fans or players who were offended by his actions needed to “toughen up.”

“If somebody is offended by that, I apologize to them, but toughen up,” he said, “because this is not meant that way. I just wanted to get on to the next hole, and I didn’t see that happening at the time. I’d gladly take my two strokes and move on.”

Mickelson said that he’s wanted to accept this penalty on other occasions in his career – including some years on the 15th hole at the Masters, when his ball would run off into the creek – but that with this particular hole location Saturday, “I could still be out there, potentially.”

So was the pin on 13 fair?

“Everybody has to play it,” he said. “I was playing it worse than most, and I wanted to get to the next hole eventually, which I did.”

Mickelson’s stunning smack was reminiscent of John Daly’s outburst during the 1999 U.S. Open at Pinehurst. After the same two-shot penalty, he made an 11 on the hole and claimed afterward that his penalty was in protest against the USGA for setting so many dicey hole locations.

But with the USGA on the verge of losing Shinnecock, again, because of unplayable conditions in the third round, Mickelson didn’t rail against the setup. Instead, he described it as “certainly a lot harder today,” and added that he’ll continue to relish the challenge of playing the U.S. Open even if “sometimes it gets a bit goofy.”

The incident didn’t seem to dim Mickelson’s enthusiasm. As he headed toward the scoring cabin, he offered wry smiles, high-fived the fans lining the barricades and gave a few thumbs-up. He remained in scoring for nearly a half hour – he said he was refueling after a long day on the course – before facing dozens of reporters and cameramen.

When Mickelson was done explaining one of the most bizarre decisions of his legendary career, he scribbled autographs, made small talk with fans and nodded along to the music. The crowd was singing, “Happy Birthday.”

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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.”