Punch Shot: Bring back the Skins Game?

The Skins Game was a staple on the fall golf schedule for the better part of three decades, but after 2008 the event was dropped. Is it silly that this former silly season event is no more, or should we petition to bring it back? GolfChannel.com writers debate. (Click here for Skins Game gallery)

By RYAN LAVNER

Yes, but not as the version that appeared on TV each fall for 25 years.

Money won’t entice any of the competitors, not in this era of FedEx Cup cash. The total prize money for the event used to be $1 million. That’s pocket change to these guys – less than what they could get for playing in, say, the John Deere or Mayakoba event. Even the purse at the Shark Shootout tops $3 million.

But the Skins Game could work, once again, as a kind of Tavistock Cup (R.I.P.) spinoff, only without the helicopter entrances and snooty spectators. 

My proposal is for a pair of two-man teams from different parts of the country squaring off against each other in the skins format: SoCal vs. SoFla, Texans vs. Sea Islanders, Las Vegans vs. Arizonans, Ponte Vedrans vs. Orlandoans. Add elements of a home-course advantage. All money donated to a charity of their choice.

A perfect idea? Maybe not. But it’s a better option than no golf in the U.S. on Thanksgiving weekend.


 By JASON SOBEL

No.

I used to enjoy watching the Skins Game as much as the next guy – but I wouldn’t be in favor of bringing it back.

Nothing against the informal nature of the tournament or its format or structure, but it was previously contested during what was widely known as golf’s silly season.

Well, guess what? There’s nothing silly about this time of year anymore.

With the FedEx Cup and Race to Dubai extending the seasons on their respective tours, followed almost immediately by the start of the next campaign, golf has become a 52-week-a-year endeavor with little time for such frivolities that don’t come armed with world ranking points and official money. Throw in a month of serious competition in Australia and Tiger Woods’ World Challenge and the dance card starts filling up quicker than that of Kate Upton at an all-boys school.

What it means is that elite players need to take their breaks when they can get ‘em. Unless you can guarantee me a foursome of one-named superstars like Tiger, Phil, Adam and Rory in an updated Skins Game, I’d rather not run the risk of so many invitations being denied that it features a watered-down version of its previous self with a quartet of third-tier professionals.

The Skins Game was great for what it was, when it was. The golf world has evolved since those days, though, and quite honestly the schedule doesn’t have room anymore for anything too silly.


By RANDALL MELL

No. Let the Skins Game rest in peace.

There is no way to re-create the wonder the original silly season concept possessed. There is so much money, so many monster purses, so many more big events in the game today than there were when the Skins Game was at the height of its popularity in the '80s and '90s. Back then, a $1 million payday was exciting stuff. So was the idea of seeing the game's biggest stars in the offseason. With the World Golf Championships, the FedEx Cup, the Race to Dubai and Tiger's December All-Star Game, there is hardly a month we don't get to see the game's biggest stars.

I suppose there would be intrigue if players were playing for their own money, the way the rest of us do when we play for skins, but that's never going to happen. The Skins Game is never going to regain its original appeal.


By WILL GRAY

No. Perhaps I wasn’t tuning in when the event was at its peak popularity, but I don’t miss the Skins Game and would be in no rush to spark its return.

In the early 1980s, I can understand how a televised exhibition like the Skins Game would be an interesting novelty. Fast forward 30 years, though, and players have no shortage of opportunities to play for unofficial cash, while viewers are not exactly hurting for chances to see their favorite players in action. The evolution of the tournament’s field – from Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus taking the first two titles to Stephen Ames and K.J. Choi claiming the last two – speaks volumes to the event’s gradually declining demand.

Add in the increased options for televised sports around the Thanksgiving holiday, and the hole once occupied by the Skins Game on a viewer’s “plate” has been more than filled. With the advent of the PGA Tour’s wraparound schedule and the increased number of playing opportunities in the winter months, the golf offseason is now measured in weeks, not months. Adding to the schedule at this time of year, even for a four-person cash grab, just doesn’t seem warranted.

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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.”