After major win, Dufner voids bet with PGA pro

By Jason SobelSeptember 6, 2013, 1:00 pm

If you weren’t already a fan of Jason Dufner – if he hadn’t won you over with his everyman demeanor and his perpetual waggles and his sublime ball-striking – the following story should be enough to finally do the trick.

It all starts with a guy named Rob Labritz. Even if you don’t recognize the name, you likely remember his YouTube moment. He’s the longtime New York club professional who holed a wedge shot from 95 yards at the PGA Professional National Championship to collect the 20th and final spot in the field at this year’s PGA Championship.

Keegan Bradley, Rob Labritz

Labritz (at far right above) is no newbie to the glitz and glamour of the big-time. This was his fourth appearance in the year’s final major and he’s long owned connections all over the golf world. It was through one of these connections, St. John’s University coach Frank Darby, that Labritz found himself in a juicy practice round match on Tuesday at Oak Hill Country Club last month.

Darby set up Labritz with Keegan Bradley, one of his former players and, of course, a former PGA champion. The two of them would prepare for the tournament by playing a match against heavyweights Dufner and Dustin Johnson.

At promptly 8:30 a.m. Tuesday morning, the foursome stood on the first tee at the famed venue and playfully discussed the day’s wager.

“Dufner and Keegan started talking about the bet,” recounts Labritz, the director of golf at GlenArbor Golf Club in Bedford Hills, N.Y. “Dufner says, ‘What are we playing for? A hundred thousand? Two hundred thousand?’ He’s like, ‘Keegan, what did you make, $7 million last year? I thought you wanted to play for some cash.’”

Labritz laughs at the recollection, adding there was more than a little sarcastic embellishment laced in that offer.

“I said, ‘Guys, that’s a little out of my price range. I had to cancel two ladies clinics and a junior clinic just to be here today.’ So we played for a $500 closeout.”

It didn’t start well for the club pro. He and Bradley combined for a best ball score of par on each of the first five holes. Dufner and Johnson countered with birdies on all five, quickly taking a 5-up lead.

Labritz finally birdied the eighth hole, but his team was still 6-down. A birdie by Johnson on the ninth extended the lead to 7 at the turn. Even after birdies from Labritz on 10, 11 and 13 and one from Bradley on 14, they found themselves 4-down with four to play. On the 16th tee, they pressed for half the amount, with Bradley taking the banter to another level.

“Keegan goes, ‘Hey Rob, did I ever tell you this story? I was 4 down with five to go and I won this tournament,’” Labritz says, recalling Bradley’s needling of Dufner about the PGA Championship finish from two years earlier. “Dufner goes, ‘Hey, it ain’t going to happen that way this week.’”

After a halve on the final hole pushed a second press, Labritz and Bradley found themselves $750 in the hole – which was a slight problem for the club pro.

“I didn’t have $750 in my wallet, so I went into the locker, got my checkbook out and wrote a check to Dufner. I left it in his locker.”

In the memo section of the check, he wrote:

SORRY FOR THE CHECK + THX FOR THE WHOOPIN.


Jason Dufner


The truth is, it really wasn’t a “whoopin” – at least individually. Labritz says he shot a score of “1 or 2 under” and Dufner was “1 or 2 over.”

All of which became even more amazing five days later, when Dufner posted a final-round 68 to claim his first major championship title.

And yes, a $1.445 million winner’s check.

Suddenly that $750 check from the Tuesday match didn’t quite mean as much. So rather than cashing it, Dufner called a late audible following the victory.

“A few days after I missed the cut, I got this letter in the mail,” Labritz explains. “It was written out to me in cursive.”

The letter was from Dufner. It included Labritz’s check with the word “VOID” written through it and a note from the champ:

ROB,

GREAT TIME PLAYING WITH YOU LAST TUESDAY. I JUST COULDN’T CASH THIS CHECK. ALL THE BEST TO YOU AND YOUR FAMILY IN 2013 + HOPE TO SEE YOU IN 2014 @ VALHALLA.

JASON DUFNER

The gesture floored Labritz.

“Oh my God, are you kidding me? That’s just phenomenal. It’s just a classy move,” he says. “I think he’s a great guy.”

If Dufner didn’t win over enough fans with his demeanor and his waggles and his ball-striking and – of course – his PGA Championship victory, this story of a classy move toward a fellow golf professional should help matters.

One thing is for sure: He certainly gained another fan in Labritz.

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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.”