wed pm AP notes

By Golf Channel NewsroomJuly 16, 2003, 4:00 pm
SANDWICH, England (AP) -- After baking under a sweltering sun the previous two days, Royal St. George's finally got a bit of stormy weather Wednesday.
A rare afternoon thunderstorm halted practice for the British Open and sent fans scurrying for cover.
'Have you ever seen lightning in England?' Brad Faxon asked.
It didn't rain long enough to soften the rock-hard links -- 'I can spit more than that,' Niclas Fasth quipped -- but a shift in the wind left players scrambling to adjust their shots.
'I've always liked to practice in calm conditions. It's not such a fright,' defending champion Ernie Els said, grinning. 'I'm sure the wind is going to blow 25 miles an hour.'
Just after sundown, another line of showers gave the course a more significant dousing, but the players weren't counting on much relief.
Asked how much rain would change the course, Faxon replied, 'About three days straight.'
Defending British Open champion Ernie Els had some extra help as he finished up a practice round.
His 4-year-old daughter, Samantha, joined the Big Easy for the final two holes, bounding down the fairways barefooted.
'She was becoming bored at the house,' Els said. 'I wanted her to come out and see what it's like.'
If Kenny Perry seems to play a little faster than usual this week, he has a reason.
Perry's caddie is friend Billy Glidden, a drag racer from Whiteland, Ind. Perry and Glidden met a few years ago and hit it off, and he invited Glidden to come with him to England, where Perry is playing in his first British Open in 12 years.
'He's like a brother to me,' Perry said.
Glidden, the son of drag racing icon Bob Glidden, said he has exchanged lessons with Perry. Glidden taught Perry how to drive in drag races, and Perry cut Glidden's 30 handicap with just one lesson.
On Wednesday, Glidden was pacing off yardages and retrieving balls during Perry's practice rounds like he had done it all his life.
He's not awed by the experience, but appreciative of his friendship with Perry, who has won three of his last four tournaments.
'Until he gets on a streak like this, no one knows that Kenny Perry does anything but be a person like the rest of us,' Glidden said. 'He's very real.'
Golf doesn't have a drug problem and is unlikely to accept global anti-doping rules anytime soon, Royal & Ancient Secretary Peter Dawson said Wednesday.
Dawson said the rule-making organization is willing to discuss mandatory drug testing but believes the issue would face significant opposition.
The World Anti-Doping Agency is pressing all sports to fall in line with a global code setting out uniform drug-testing rules and sanctions.
'I think it would take a long time,' Dawson said in an interview with The Associated Press. 'I think there are a large number of people in golf -- and I can understand this -- who would say that there is no evidence of drug taking in golf, there's no evidence that drug taking can help you in golf, what's the problem, what on earth are you thinking about?'
While golf isn't played in the Olympics, WADA is trying to get all sports to accept a universal code, which includes no-notice testing and two-year bans for serious violations.
Dawson said there's no need to test golfers for drugs, though Greg Norman called for mandatory checks and Nick Price has warned that steroids could be tempting for players looking to keep up with ever-lengthening courses.
'I'm personally pretty convinced that there's none of it going on,' Dawson said. 'I've never seen any sign of it.'
Acting on instructions from the national sports ministry, the French Golf Federation tested six players at the French Open last month. The results have not yet been announced.
What would happen to the tournament result if there were a positive test?
'You can't change a result in golf once a result has been declared under the rules,' Dawson said. 'What do you do when you get a dope result a week later?'
Bernhard Langer and caddie Pete Coleman, who have been together for 22 years, will part ways after the British Open.
The 62-year-old Englishman will carry the clubs for Lee Westwood after deciding that Langer's schedule, with frequent long trips to the United States, had become too demanding.
'Basically, he wants to be mostly in America and I don't want to be stationed there,' Coleman told The Guardian, a British newspaper. 'I don't want to have to work a couple of weeks in the States and then hang around on my own in some motel waiting for him come out and play in another couple of weeks.'
Coleman said the two will remain friends.
'There's no animosity,' the caddie said. 'And, in fact, we're both a bit sad about the situation. But his circumstances have changed and I've got my life to lead. We've had some really good times together but I wanted something more stable. I don't want at my age to be jumping on trans-Atlantic planes all the time.'
Tiger Woods remained a solid favorite with the British bookmakers to win the Open, but money was pouring in for defending champion Ernie Els.
Woods, winner of eight majors including the 2000 Open at St. Andrews, was a 3-1 pick by Ladbrokes.
The odds on Els repeating last year's victory at Muirfield were cut from 8-1 to 7-1 after a series of big bets and his five-stroke Scottish Open triumph last weekend.
Canada's Mike Weir, who won the Masters, was a 16-1 wager. U.S. Open champion Jim Furyk was 20-1.

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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.”

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    Koepka still has chip on his chiseled shoulder

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 17, 2018, 3:06 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Brooks Koepka prepared more for this Open than last year's.

    He picked up his clubs three times.

    That’s three more than last summer, when the only shots he hit between the summer Opens was during a commercial shoot for Michelob Ultra at TPC Sawgrass. He still tied for sixth at The Open a month later.

    This time, Koepka kept his commitment to play the Travelers, then hit balls three times between the final round in Hartford and this past Sunday, when he first arrived here at Carnoustie.

    Not that he was concerned, of course.

    Koepka’s been playing golf for nearly 20 years. He wasn’t about to forget to how to swing a club after a few weeks off.

    “It was pretty much the same thing,” he said Tuesday, during his pre-tournament news conference. “I shared it with one of my best friends, my family, and it was pretty much the same routine. It was fun. We enjoyed it. But I’m excited to get back inside the ropes and start playing again. I think you need to enjoy it any time you win and really embrace it and think about what you’ve done.”

    At Shinnecock Hills, Koepka became the first player in nearly 30 years to repeat as U.S. Open champion – a major title that helped him shed his undeserved reputation as just another 20-something talent who relies solely on his awesome power. In fact, he takes immense pride in his improved short game and putting inside 8 feet.

    “I can take advantage of long golf courses,” he said, “but I enjoy plotting my way around probably - more than the bombers’ golf courses - where you’ve got to think, be cautious sometimes, and fire at the center of the greens. You’ve got to be very disciplined, and that’s the kind of golf I enjoy.”

    Which is why Koepka once again fancies his chances here on the type of links that helped launch his career.

    Koepka was out of options domestically after he failed to reach the final stage of Q-School in 2012. So he packed his bags and headed overseas, going on a tear on the European Challenge Tour (Europe’s equivalent of the circuit) and earning four titles, including one here in Scotland. That experience was the most fun and beneficial part of his career, when he learned to win, be self-sufficient and play in different conditions.

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    “There’s certain steps, and I embraced it,” Koepka said. “I think that’s where a lot of guys go wrong. You are where you are, and you have to make the best of it instead of just putting your head down and being like, 'Well, I should be on the PGA Tour.' Well, guess what? You’re not. So you’ve got to suck it up wherever you are, make the best of it, and keep plugging away and trying to win everything you can because, eventually, if you’re good enough, you will get out here.”

    Koepka has proved that he’s plenty good enough, of course: He’s a combined 20 under in the majors since the beginning of 2017, the best of any player during that span. But he still searches long and hard for a chip to put on his chiseled shoulder.

    In his presser after winning at Shinnecock, Koepka said that he sometimes feels disrespected and forgotten, at least compared to his more-ballyhooed peers. It didn’t necessarily bother him – he prefers to stay out of the spotlight anyway, eschewing a media tour after each of his Open titles – but it clearly tweaked him enough for him to admit it publicly.

    That feeling didn’t subside after he went back to back at the Open, either. On U.S. Open Sunday, ESPN’s Instagram page didn’t showcase a victorious Koepka, but rather a video of New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. dunking a basketball.

    “He’s like 6-foot-2. He’s got hops – we all know that – and he’s got hands. So what’s impressive about that?” Koepka said. “But I always try to find something where I feel like I’m the underdog and put that little chip on my shoulder. Even if you’re No. 1, you’ve got to find a way to keep going and keep that little chip on.

    “I think I’ve done a good job of that. I need to continue doing that, because once you’re satisfied, you’re only going to go downhill. You try to find something to get better and better, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”

    Now 28, Koepka has a goal of how many majors he’d like to win before his career is over, but he wasn’t about to share it.

    Still, he was adamant about one thing: “Right now I’m focused on winning. That’s the only thing I’ve got in my mind. Second place just isn’t good enough. I finished second a lot, and I’m just tired of it. Once you win, it kind of propels you. You have this mindset where you just want to keep winning. It breeds confidence, but you want to have that feeling of gratification: I finally did this. How cool is this?”

    So cool that Koepka can’t wait to win another one.

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    Despite results, Thomas loves links golf

    By Jay CoffinJuly 17, 2018, 2:48 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Despite poor results in two previous Open Championships, Justin Thomas contends that he has what it takes to be a good links player. In fact, he believes that he is a good links player.

    Two years ago at Royal Troon, Thomas shot 77 in the second round to tie for 53rd place. He was on the wrong side of the draw that week that essentially eliminated anyone from contention who played late Friday afternoon.

    Last year at Royal Birkdale, Thomas made a quintuple-bogey 9 on the par-4 sixth hole in the second round and missed the cut by two shots.

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    “I feel like I’ve played more than two Opens, but I haven’t had any success here,” Thomas said Tuesday at Carnoustie. “I feel like I am a good links player, although I don’t really have the results to show.”

    Although he didn’t mention it as a reason for success this week, Thomas is a much different player now than he was two years ago, having ascended to the No. 1 position in the world for a few weeks and now resting comfortably in the second spot.

    He also believes a high golf IQ, and the ability to shape different shots into and with the wind are something that will help him in The Open over the next 20 years.

    “I truly enjoy the creativity,” Thomas said. “It presents a lot of different strategies, how you want to play it, if you want to be aggressive, if you want to be conservative, if you want to attack some holes, wait on certain winds, whatever it might be. It definitely causes you to think.

    “With it being as firm as it is, it definitely adds a whole other variable to it.”