Ames Aims for Swing Changes

By Ian HutchinsonMarch 11, 2008, 4:00 pm
PALM HARBOR, Fla. -- They sizzle up a delicious ribeye at Packards, but Stephen Ames was being a little different, choosing the grouper instead, which wasnt a bad choice considering the weather at the PODS Championship early last week.
Ames could have cast a line out the door of this memorable steakhouse and hooked the catch of the day with all of the rain that began falling at the Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club just as he finished nine holes of his practice round, an extremely important time for Ames these days.
More time on the range would go a long way in the progress of the swing changes instituted by coach Sean Foley over a year ago, but the torrential downpour dampened that plan and became another roadblock to moving forward.
Scheduling ' and in this case, a storm that caused tournament officials to clear the course ' has limited the time that Ames and Foley have spent together in the early going of the PGA TOUR season. Their most productive meeting came during three days in Orlando about a month ago.
We were working on the same things, just to get it better and better ' understanding it more, said Ames, adding thats his main focus as the season progresses.
The backswings gotten better. It seems to fall into place day in, day out and now, were working on the downswing -- for me to understand it better more than anything else, he added.
The new changes were introduced to limit injuries to Ames, who began to suffer from back pain in 2006. It isnt so much that Ames doesnt understand the mechanics or the reasoning behind the changes, its just a matter of getting mind and body working together and accepting something new.
The easiest way to explain it is if youre learning to drive for the first time, you dont jump in the car and drive 100 miles an hour, said Ames.
You drive at 30 miles an hour, so were swinging the club now at a slower pace, hitting 30 per cent shots and 40 per cent shots and every now and again, well throw one (swing) in thats normal and that way, it solidifies the feeling better.
Foley adds that a reconstructed swing takes time and that a few more sessions like the one in Orlando might hasten the progress.
That was excellent. If I could get that kind of time once a month, we would progress quickly, but he spends enough time away from his family, said Foley, adding that he respects Ames renowned devotion to family.
We just spent a lot of time getting him to understand why (the changes) work, After three days of hitting 500 balls a day, he really got the feeling and progressed really well, but you take three weeks off and its kind of back to where it was, so it takes time.
Swing changes are a work in progress, added Foley. I figure two-and-a-half years from the day that we started until everything is more natural.
That leaves about another year before Ames is completely comfortable, but he has had some finishes that may have left fans with the impression that everything had kicked in, including his win at Disney last November.
He didnt seem to have lost anything at the beginning of this season with a couple of top-10s in Hawaii, including a third place finish at the Mercedes-Benz Championship.
Obviously, he played really good in Hawaii, almost won at Mercedes and then, he played good at Sony and the thing with Sony was he didnt hit it that great, but he really grinded it and got it up and down, so thats a big thing because weve worked a lot on short game, said Foley.
His performance in Hawaii illustrated how far he had come with the changes, according to Ames. Hawaii just kind of solidified that I can take a couple of months off, which it was, get back into it and it was still going to be there, which was nice, he said.
Ames fast start in Hawaii was balanced by a missed cut at the Buick Invitational and a tie for 33rd at the Accenture Match Play Championship. Yesterday, he finished T-52 at the PODS, which began his preparations for next months Masters.
Ames will play the Arnold Palmer Invitational next week and follow that up with a trip to Doral, before taking the two weeks before the Masters off for a visit to his home country of Trinidad.
There isnt a golf course that we play on tour that can actually warm you up for the Masters, said Ames. Its a completely different animal altogether, the greens and everything.
Im going to be (at Augusta National) the Saturday, so Ive got the Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday to prepare, which is enough. I think, for that event, you have to be mentally relaxed more than anything else.

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Toronto Sun Editor's Note: Ian Hutchinson is golf columnist for the Toronto Sun. He is also a frequent contributor to Golf Scene and Golf Canada Magazine, the official magazine of the Royal Canadian Golf Association.
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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.”