The Highs and Lows in Golf

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 21, 2007, 4:00 pm
Editor's Note: In Front 9 and Back 9, our staff will showcase the highs and lows from the world of golf. We start with the Front 9, which offers up the top moments and stories from this previous week, and then make the turn for the lowlights.
Front 9 Hole 1
THE HITS KEEP ON COMING: Zach Johnson shocked the world just over a month ago when he stepped out on golf's biggest stage and captured the Masters Tournament. As time goes by that win in Augusta may start to seem a little less shocking if Johnson continues to notch PGA TOUR victories like the one this past week in the AT&T Classic at the TPC Sugarloaf. Next up on Johnson's to-do list: try and get a win outside the state of Georgia.
Hole 2
VALIDATION STATION: Since supplanting all-time great Annika Sorenstam last month as the women's world No. 1 player, Lorena Ochoa hasn't had the results for which she was looking. Until Sunday that is, when the Mexican star shot a bogey-free 4-under 68 in the final round of the Sybase Classic to overcome rising star Sarah Lee. In addition to it being her first victory as the No. 1 player in the Rolex rankings, it also marked Ochoa's first-ever career title defense.
Hole 3
THE FAMINE IS FINALLY OVER: Not since John O'Leary back in 1982 had an Irishman won their national open. But lo and behold, Ireland's favorite golfing son, Padraig Harrington, finally came through in a big way on Sunday when he won the Irish Open in a playoff, ending the 25-year drought. The 35-year-old Harrington had twice finished runner-up in the event before finally hoisting the crystal trophy, much to the delight of the thousands of fans in attendance.
Hole 4
WARNING: DIRTY MATERIAL: Well, in nickname only, as Brad Bryant survived a wild shootout at the The Regions Charity Classic at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Ross Bridge. Bryant, affectionly known as 'Dr. Dirt' due to his reputation for hitting a lot balls on the range, fired a closing-round 7-under 65 to repeat as champion. Included in the win was a tense three-hole playoff with R.W. Eaks, when Dr. Dirt rolled in a 12-footer for birdie to seal the deal.
Hole 5
SEEING GREEN: As good as it gets when it comes to hosting a tournament - and it being the Masters no less - Augusta National Golf Club also does a fine job of giving back to charitable causes. Club chairman Billy Payne annouced last week that the club will be donating over $3 million to charitable foundations, including The First Tee national youth development program, which will receive $1 million; and the Community Foundation for the Central Savannah River Area, which will receive $1.25 million.
Hole 6
STAR POWER: This weeks Nationwide Tour event was a major of sorts with the fifth-largest purse for an event this season at $650,000. It also had a major caliber field ' at least in the amateur portion on the pro-am. The celebrities included sports stars Wayne Gretzky, Brett Hull, John Elway and Sterling Sharpe; comedians Cheech Marin and George Lopez; and actor Kevin Costner. Oh, and a couple model/actresses in Catherine Bell and Joanna Krupa.
Hole 7
OPTIMISTIC BULLDOG: Corey Pavin isnt yet qualified for this years Open Championship ' not that it matters. Pavin will not be in Carnoustie for the seasons third major. Instead, he will be defending his title at the U.S. Bank Championship. People that aren't going to play the British Open have a very nice alternative to come here and play, Pavin said.
Hole 8
DADDY NEEDS A NEW PAIR OF SHOES!: It was just a matter of time before the poker craze hit the golf course. The inaugural World Series of Golf was held this week outside of Las Vegas. The event, which used poker-style betting in place of traditional scoring, was won by Mark Ewing, a 31-year-old entrepreneur and day trader. The 10-handicapper from Newport Beach, Calif., knocked out two professional poker players, an electrician and a former railroad conductor at the end of the three-day tournament for the $250,000 first-place prize.
Hole 9
PLAYOFFS? WE'RE TALKING ABOUT THE PLAYOFFS?: Mr. Harrington and Mr. Bradley Dredge got things going Sunday when the two went into extra holes at the Irish Open. Brad Bryant and R.W. Eaks then got involved in a three-hole tango on the Champions Tour. Next up, Zach Johnson and Ryuji Imada figured 72 holes weren't enough, so into a playoff they went. The Duramed FUTURES Tour? Playoff. The Ladies European Tour? Playoff. Somewhere, Jim Mora must have been rolling over on a couch. But for golf fans, there's nothing better than playoff drama.
Back 9 Hole 10
RHYMES WITH...: Scott Hoch, poor Scott Hoch. Infamously remembered for his missed 2-footer that allowed Nick Faldo to win the 1989 Masters, again saw the short putt demons creep back into his head. Holding a two-shot lead around the time he was making the turn in Alabama, Hoch missed a handful a short putts that became, lets say, very uncomfortable to watch. After one short miss late in the round, Hoch apparently had enough as he tossed his putter toward his golf bag and mumbled, 'Next week.'
Hole 11
BITTER TASTE - PART I: Michelle Wie hasnt played a womens event all year, but she has some ladies all riled up over a potential tournament in which she may be competing in October. Wie has accepted an invitation to play in the Samsung World Championship, which begins on her 18th birthday, Oct. 11. The field is limited to only 20 players and it has some quite upset about her inclusion. People aren't very happy,' Brittany Lincicome said in The Star-Ledger. 'It's tough to accept. We're out here working our butts off to get a spot in that tournament and it's just handed to her.
Hole 12
BITTER TASTE - PART II: For the second week in a row, Korea's Sarah Lee held the 36-hole lead at an LPGA event. And, for the second week in a row, Lee couldn't hang on for her break-out victory. Two weeks ago at the Michelob Ultra Open, Lee posted an over-par score on Sunday that left her out of a playoff and this past week she again shot an over-par final round that let Ochoa pass her by and get the win. But if she can keep getting herself in contention, perhaps a certain well-known company may give her an endorsement offer.
Hole 13
1988 WAS A LONG TIME AGO: Despite closing with a respectable 1-over 73, Seve Ballesteros, whose last major came at the 1988 British Open, couldn't overcome a horrendous start in his Champions Tour debut. He opened with a 78 and followed that with a dreadful 9-over 81 that eventually left him tied with Lee Trevino at the bottom of the 78-player field at 16-over 216. 'My game is not there,' said a disappointed Ballesteros. 'I'm very disappointed with my performance.'
Hole 14
DARK SIDE OF THE MOONEY: Northern Irishman Damian Mooney had what can only be described as an unpleastant first round at the European Tour's Irish Open. In a round that saw him make more bogeys or worse than pars, Mooney shot 92 and hit for the cycle and then some. His scorecard showed a bogey, a double, a triple, a quad, and a quintuple bogey - and possibly ruining any chances of him starring in any of the PGA TOUR's future 'These Guy are Good' commercials.
Hole 15
BAD STREAK, GOOD GUY: For the third straight week, Darren Clarke had to withdraw from an event. This time he was forced to do so from the Irish Open. Clarke pulled out of his national Open due to a hamstring injury that isnt healing properly. He also had to withdraw from the PGA TOURs Wachovia Championship and THE PLAYERS Championship. He hopes to return for this week's BMW PGA Championship, the flagship event on the European Tour.
Hole 16
BAD KARMA?: On the eve of hosting the Champions Tour's first major of the year, the $22 million new clubhouse at Kiawah Island Golf Resort was rocked by a gas explosion inside the kitchen, resulting in four construction workers being injured, two of whom were taken by helicopter to a hospital burn unit in Augusta, Ga. The Pete Dye-designed Ocean Course already has a reputation as being unfair, now it looks as if the clubhouse may be viewed the same way.
Hole 17
A COURSE WITH A VIEW: The field for the Barclays Classic will get a good view of Manhattan when the PGA TOUR moves the tournament to Jersey Citys Liberty National Golf Club in 2009. The tournament has been held at Westchester Country Club in Harrison, N.Y. since its inception in 1967 and is currently the first event in the PGA TOURs playoff series. Not everyone, however, is a fan of the move. 'TOUR players don't care about the views,' said Joey Sindelar to The Journal News.
Hole 18
TOO BAD FOR TWO GLOVES: The Big Break's Tommy Gainey has been making news the last couple of weeks and for several different reasons. First, he Monday qualified for the Wachovia Championship but failed to make the cut. He also made it to the finals of The Big Break VII: Reunion in an episode that aired last week. But that paled in comparison to what transpired in the BMW Charity Pro-Am at the Cliffs. Gainey, who got into the event on a sponsor's exemption, held a share of the lead after 36 holes and was just a shot back heading into Sunday. But the fairtale run unfortunately ended there; a 5-over 77 on Sunday dropped Gainey all the way down into a tie for 30th, with the top 25 getting into the following week's field.
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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.”