Punch Shot: Who will win the FedEx Cup?

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 18, 2013, 12:40 pm

The 2013 FedEx Cup Playoffs conclude this week at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta. Who will win the $10 million bonus at the Tour Championship? The GolfChannel.com writers make their picks.


By REX HOGGARD

You know the drill. If a player inside the top 5 on the FedEx Cup points list wins this week’s Tour Championship, the cup and cash prizes of $11.4 million are his. It’s simple math and, well ... a contrived reset. But that’s a column for another day.

So it stands to reason that our pick for FedEx Cup champion would go to a member of 2013’s “Big 5” – Matt Kuchar.

Kuchar, who has ranked inside the top 5 since winning the WGC-Accenture Match Play in February, arrives at East Lake fifth in points following a solid, if not understated, playoff run that has included top-25 finishes at The Barclays (T-19), Deutsche Bank Championship (T-4) and BMW Championship (T-24).

Kooch also has plenty of history at East Lake. In 2010, he began the week of the finale first on the points list but struggled to a tie for 25th and watched Jim Furyk win the Tour Championship and clip him by 252 points in the season-ending cash grab.

Last year the Georgia Tech grad, who spent much of his college career practicing at East Lake, finished tied for 10th in Atlanta, but began the week outside the top 15 on the points list and came up short again.

This time, however, it seems the FedEx Cup stars and dollar signs are finally aligning in Kuchar’s favor.


By RYAN LAVNER

Tiger Woods. OK, so the FedEx Cup doesn’t always identify the best player of that particular season. In fact, it rarely does. But here’s thinking Woods will get what he deserves this week in Atlanta. Five wins, a serious contender in two majors, the clear-cut (for now) Player of the Year, Woods will begin the season finale with a 250-point head start in the race to capture golf’s biggest prize. That’s not a huge cushion, given the volatility of the points system, but Woods has traditionally fared well at East Lake. In his last five starts there, he has won once, been runner-up three times, and never finished worse than eighth. He’ll have a reasonable chance of capturing the FedEx Cup with a top-5 finish. Motivated to lock up the Player of the Year award, that shouldn’t be an issue. 


By JASON SOBEL

I'm sticking with Zach Johnson.

That's right – sticking with him. As in, I picked him. To win the whole thing. Before the playoffs started. Even knowing he'd miss the first event for his brother's wedding.

Hey, for a guy hovering around last place in the Golf Channel fantasy standings all year, I've gotta gloat when I get the chance.

Johnson has been one of the hottest golfers on the planet over the last two months. His win at the BMW Championship moved him up to fourth in the FedEx Cup, safely inside that all-important top-five number which controls their own destiny.

Now he'll head to East Lake, a course which totally suits his game and one where he once posted a 60. I'm not sure that he can put together back-to-back wins, but I do think he'll play well enough to hold off the other contenders and win the $10 million grand prize.

Besides, even if I didn't, this is no time to jump off the bandwagon. 


By WILL GRAY

Henrik Stenson. The Swede was my pick to win it all at the start of the FedEx Cup Playoffs, and I see no reason to switch with one week to go. Stenson fell a bit off the radar after struggling at Liberty National but bounced back to win the Deutsche Bank Championship; I’m expecting a similar reversal of fortune from Stenson – and his new driver – after his tie for 33rd at Conway Farms.

Despite a frustrating week that led to him shattering a club in the 72nd fairway, Stenson’s season-long stats are among the best around: first on Tour in GIR percentage, second in total driving, fifth in scoring average. He has been among the best tee-to-green players for much of the summer and has proven time and again his ability to successfully take on fields filled with upper-echelon players.

Entering the week second in the overall standings behind Tiger Woods, Stenson has a myriad of scenarios through which he could leave Atlanta $10 million richer. Though it’s his first start on the difficult layout, that won’t stop the Swede from hoisting the FedEx Cup by Sunday evening to cap what has already been a remarkable comeback season.

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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

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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.”