A Masters Like No Other

By Golf Channel NewsroomApril 8, 2003, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) -- Tiger Woods returns to Augusta National with his size 42-long green jacket, the best game in golf and a parachute.
 
Inside the gates is another chance to make history.
 
Outside the gates, there may be chaos.
 
``It's going to be a joke trying to get into the tournament,'' the two-time defending champion said. ``Maybe I'll try to parachute in.''
 
Clearly, this is shaping up to be a Masters like no other.
 
At least two groups plan to protest the all-male membership at Augusta National. Others plan to protest against the protesters, including a one-man faction of the Ku Klux Klan who lists Woods as his favorite golfer.
 
Attention has shifted from the raging colors of spring and the towering Georgia pines to hand-painted picket signs for a protest against an exclusive membership that is no longer secret, except that they wear green jackets and answer to ``Sir.''
 
The eyes will not be on who drives through the gates of Magnolia Lane, but whether Martha Burk and her National Council of Women's Organizations marches outside them.
 
The Masters, which only allowed four minutes of television commercials every hour, will make it even cozier for couch potatoes -- the first commercial-free sporting event on network television.
 
The honorary starters are gone.
 
Arnold Palmer is back, and so is Jack Nicklaus.
 
And in case anyone has forgotten, Woods will try to become the first player to win three straight Masters championships when play begins on Thursday.
 
``It's become not just about a golf tournament anymore,'' Woods said. ``That's where it's gotten to now. It used to be the first major of the year, and everyone looked forward to that. Now, it's not that anymore, for a number of reasons.''
 
Players who once spoke of Augusta National in reverential tones now use words like ``zoo'' and ``circus.''
 
``All the peripheral stuff is going to detract a lot from the tournament,'' Nick Price said. ``It's bad. Maybe Thursday, everything will be forgotten and we'll be on our way. But we're getting away from golf, and that's sad.''
 
The peripheral stuff can be traced to June 12, when Burk sent Augusta National chairman Hootie Johnson a foreboding letter that urged him to open the club's membership to women so that it doesn't become an ``issue'' for the Masters and its sponsors.
 
Johnson felt threatened and came out swinging.
 
In a three-page, 932-word statement to the media -- compared with a three-sentence, 69-word letter to Burk -- he predicted an all-out campaign by the NCWO to pressure Augusta National into inviting a female member.
 
He vowed that the club would act as always -- on its own, with a timetable of its choosing, certainly ``not at the point of a bayonet.''
 
Suddenly, the Masters became more than green jackets, slick greens, Rae's Creek and Amen Corner. It became a public relations battle between the rights of a private club and the moral obligation of golf's most famous tournament.
 
Johnson canceled the Masters' television sponsors to keep them out of the fray. Burk went after CEOs of major corporations who are Augusta members, and two of them resigned.
 
Nine months later, there is no winner and the stalemate continues.
 
At least one winner will be declared Sunday evening, and most eyes are on Woods.
 
Since the tournament began in 1934, only two other players have won the Masters in consecutive years -- Nicklaus (1965-66) and Nick Faldo (1989-90). Neither came close to winning three in a row, Nicklaus missing the cut, Faldo tying for 12th.
 
Neither dominated their peers quite like Woods.
 
``He does not have to play his best to win,'' said Nicklaus, who won a record six times. ``I didn't have to play my best to win, either. I thought if I played decent golf, I was going to be hard to beat. If I played well, I didn't think I would get beat.
 
``I would think he feels the same way.''
 
Woods certainly knows how to rise to the occasion.
 
Two years ago, he won the Masters over Phil Mickelson and David Duval to become the first professional to win four straight majors. For an encore in 2002, he built a lead going into the back nine and watched a world-class collection of challengers self-destruct.
 
``He wants the golf record book to just have one name,'' Faldo said. ``It's as simple as that. I'm sure that's what motivates him -- to be the first one to win three in a row.''
 
Two months off for knee surgery didn't stop him from winning three of his first five tournaments. Even with an upset stormach, he won Bay Hill by 11 shots.
 
Now comes the tournament he has been gearing up for since August.
 
``It's important to me to win that one,'' Woods said. ``Jack and Nick were the only other guys, so I could put myself in company where no one has been.''
 
He figures to get some competition from Davis Love III and Ernie Els, both two-time winners on the PGA Tour this year. Mickelson returns from taking a month off while his first son was born.
 
All of them will be chasing Woods.
 
``He's superhuman,'' Brad Faxon said. ``We keep hearing Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player say he doesn't have the same sort of competition they had, and I have to laugh. Tiger would have beaten any of those guys.''
 
Woods gets a crack at all of them in the Masters.
 
Nicklaus returns to the Masters for the 43rd time under no illusions that a 63-year-old can win. Still, he believes a top-10 finish is not out of the question if he plays well.
 
Arnie's Army marched alongside Palmer for what was supposed to be one final time last year, only to learn he has changed his mind and will play again after Augusta scrapped its new policy banning former champions from playing after they turn 65.
 
Palmer and Nicklaus are the only past Masters champions invited to join Augusta National, and they have been strangely silent on whether the club should have women.
 
Woods sees it both ways. He would like to see a female member, but he said he respects the right of a private club to invite whomever it wants.
 
That led The New York Times to ask him to skip the Masters in protest. Burk was so disappointed in Woods riding the fence that she said, ``If others had taken that view, he'd be a caddie at Augusta.''
 
Burk plans her protest on Saturday during the third round. It was not clear where she would be allowed to demonstrate, only that she will have company.
 
The Rev. Jesse Jackson and his Rainbow/PUSH Coalition have permits to protest, along with a single member of the Ku Klux Klan, which supports Augusta National; a group protesting Jackson and his coalition; and a group opposed to Burk.
 
``It's going to be an absolute joke, just a zoo,'' Woods said. ``I think a lot of us players are really going to enjoy getting inside the ropes and playing, and not having to deal with a lot of this stuff.''
 
Related Links:
  • 2003 Masters Tournament Mini-Site
  • Tournament Coverage
  • The Augusta National Membership Debate: A Chronology
     

    Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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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.”