International Team Full of Canadians

By Ian HutchinsonSeptember 26, 2007, 4:00 pm
MONTREAL -- With his distinct Aussie accent, Ian Baker-Finch was looking for an edge when he asked Canadians to go beyond Mike Weir in getting behind his International team at the Presidents Cup, which gets serious Thursday at Royal Montreal.
Just remember that we are 12 Canadians this week. This is a Canadian hockey team and I want everyone out there to come and root for us and yell as loudly for all of us as you are for Mike, said the assistant to captain Gary Player.
It might be kind of fun seeing K.J. Choi or Angel Cabrera on skates, perhaps sailing a pass over to Vijay Singh, but Baker-Finch had better be careful what he wishes for in this town, which can be brutal on its local shinny squad.
The Montreal Canadiens are the New York Yankees of hockey, winning 24 Stanley Cups, but try talking their recent fortunes with a shuttle driver on the way to the golf course and youll detect a certain amount of venom about not being anywhere near the top anymore.
Theres a flip side to Montreals passion for hockey and Baker-Finch may not want to go there if his International team doesnt take control early in Thursdays foursomes, which feature Weir and Singh against Phil Mickelson and Woody Austin.
We played together in South Africa and didnt do the best, but we played today, said Weir after his final tune-up. I think we gel well. We play the same ball and I think well be a good team.
The only Canadian in the Presidents Cup is the marquee name along with Tiger Woods this week in Montreal and Singh didnt do himself any favors by beating Weir in a playoff at the 2004 Canadian Open. Hes sounding a lot like Baker-Finch going into the first match.
Actually, this week, we are all Canadians ' only for this week though, said Singh. Obviously, (Weir) is one of the most popular sports persons in Canada. Hes a good friend of mine and Ive played a lot of golf with him. Hopefully, I can get all of the support I can.
Hockey may be the trademark Canadian pastime, but lacrosse is the official national game. Golf may be under-rated as a Canadian game in the eyes of the outside world, but it has one of the highest participation rates per capita in the world, according to studies conducted by the Royal Canadian Golf Association.
It was really amazing to hear that, said Player, adding that the awarding of the Presidents Cup to Royal Montreal can still have its benefits as was the case when it was played in his home country of South Africa in 2003.
It was such an exciting thing for our kids living in Soweto, watching a TV set, seeing that their dream can be fulfilled, said Player.
I think it was one of the most amazing statements in which I was delighted to hear is my friend Jack Nicklaus saying that the greatest moment of his golf career was the Presidents Cup in South Africa. Now, thats very significant.
This event, I really believe, is playing a very vital role in not being played in the same place all the time, not just between two countries. Its going to different parts of the world and fulfilling a vital role in golf.
The playing of the Presidents Cup in Montreal will not have the same impact as it did on South Africa, as Canada has hosted Olympics, won the World Series twice thanks to the Toronto Blue Jays and watched the Habs become a hockey dynasty, among other memorable moments.
Thats not meant to downplay the Presidents Cup, which is still an important event in the overall sporting history in Canada, but it has a more significant impact specifically on Canadian golf, which is why it was important to have Weir compete, even if Player had to go down the points list to make him a captains pick.
As enviable as Canadas participation rate is, golf faces the same challenges as in the United States, with the numbers being threatened by a number of factors, most notably affordability. A new Play Golf initiative was recently launched in order to increase participation.
Canadian numbers are not impressive on the PGA TOUR once you get past Weir and Stephen Ames. Jim Rutledge has been shaky in his first go-round as a 47-year-old rookie and Jon Mills is about to return through the Nationwide Tour. Unless somebody gets there through Q-school, thats it.
The most immediate concern in Canadian golf is the future of the Canadian Open, which still is without a title sponsor although there is a buzz in Montreal that LG Electronics is seriously considering putting its name on the tournament despite its undesirable position on the schedule, right behind the British Open.
It is known that company representatives have been meeting with the RCGA in Montreal and you can bet that theyll be keeping a close eye on the success of the Presidents Cup this week. The fact that the event may be oversold with 28,000 paid fans expected each day certainly wont hurt matters.
The impact of the Presidents Cup on Canada may not be as dramatic as South Africa, but the presence of Tiger, Weir, Phil Mickelson and Singh will be considerable when the puck drops to start the game on Thursday.
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    Toronto Sun Editor's Note: Ian Hutchinson is golf columnist for the Toronto Sun and senior writer for Pro Shop Magazine, a Canadian golf trade publication, and Canadian Golfer Magazine. 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.”

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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.”