Hawk's Nest: If a ball moves in the woods ...

By John HawkinsSeptember 16, 2013, 4:20 pm

Maybe his golf ball moved from its original position behind Conway Farms’ first green last Friday afternoon. Maybe it didn’t. When it comes to judging the man moving the stick, however, Joe Sixpack never oscillates. Opinions on Tiger Woods were set in stone long ago. For a guy who owns one of the greatest short games ever, Woods’ powers of polarization are even more remarkable.

There are lovers and there are haters – two massive groups very comparable in size. The Tigerphiles defend their man to the death and tell you with a straight face that Sir Eldrick will blow past Jack Nicklaus sometime in 2016. The Anti-Tigers chuckle and tell you the good old days are long, long gone.

Longtime loyalists laid low during Woods’ personal trauma in 2009-10, renewing their memberships to Club Red Shirt in a very discreet manner. They don’t remember any of that stuff now. As for the other half, Tiger’s off-course behavior served as the ultimate confirmation of his selfish behavior. Forgive and forget? Probably never. Definitely not yet.

It all came into play again after the second round of the BMW Championship, when Woods was penalized two strokes for being the most famous golfer who ever lived. If David Lynn decides to clear a loose impediment that might interfere with his next shot, there is no freelance videographer around to document the occurrence. Only Lynn would know if he broke a rule, at which point he would have to decide whether to turn himself in.

When I heard about the Woods incident, which began to unfold shortly after my live chat, I found the video and watched it three or four times. Frankly, I was expecting indisputable evidence that Tiger had committed a violation, but that’s not what I saw. I woke up Saturday morning and looked at it again. And again.

No question, the Nike logo shifts perhaps a quarter of a rotation as Woods tries to remove the stick, but that doesn’t mean the ball wound up in a different spot. A round object can roll without moving laterally. What happened in those trees certainly looked dubious, but did the visual transcript prove conclusive?

I’ll let you make that call because you already did.

“I feel like nothing happened,” the defendant would say a day later. “I felt like the ball oscillated and that was it.” In other words, if Woods were David Lynn, he wouldn’t have called a penalty on himself. Two different worlds on the same piece of property. Life in the fishbowl as opposed to the comforts of invisibility.

If I had to make an educated guess, perhaps 55 to 60 percent of all Woods’ shots in competition are shown on television. Nobody else probably reaches 10 percent. It’s not that Tiger is chained to a higher standard than anyone else, but a totally different set of parameters in terms of instant public access. There are no hiding places in his universe.

The problem with greatness is that it never vanishes, never takes a day off. It can be your best friend one minute, a monumental hindrance the next. It all comes with the territory, as does a sharply divided populace. I’m surprised PGA Tour official Slugger White slapped two strokes on Woods. I’m not surprised Tiger was fairly defiant about it.

Most players would just take it like a man. None of them, however, would have been sent to the principal’s office to begin with.

RAIN HAPPENS. In 2013, it has happened quite often on the tour – the BMW became the 22nd tournament (among 39) to be affected by Mutha Nature. All three playoff events have dealt with weather-related suspensions, annoying my West Coast friends to no end.

They point to their blue skies and ask why a postseason tourney isn’t held Out There. It’s a fair question without a real good answer, the best explanation being that the four title sponsors are very happy with the markets they’re in now. When you pony up an elephant-sized share of loot to host gatherings of this significance, you get a say on where they’re held.

New York, Boston, Chicago, Atlanta. Hard to argue with that group, rain or shine, but the absence of the West Coast is somewhat notable in that the Tour doesn’t take advantage of televising at least one event in prime time. Football is the villain here, and while there is no avoiding a head-on confrontation with the mighty pigskin no matter where you play, an evening golf telecast wouldn’t be the stupidest idea ever.

One potential snag could involve finding an appropriate venue. The West Coast simply doesn’t have an abundance of courses capable of staging (or willing to stage) a big-league Tour stop. I’ve been saying for years that the FedEx Cup playoffs should end with a match-play tournament at Pebble Beach, but it’s not like Camp Ponte Vedra cares what I think.

Some funny irony: When the AT&T National Pro-Am was struggling through another rough weather week back in the late 1990s, I wrote a piece wondering why the Tour didn’t come to Pebble Beach in the early fall instead of February. I was told the Monterey Peninsula couldn’t accommodate such a move because autumn is its busy season. Without hotel rooms, claimed the naysayers, you can’t have a golf tournament.

Wouldn’t you know it? Five years later, the Champions Tour began spending the last week of September at Pebble Beach in a tournament known as the First Tee Open, at which point I felt like I’d been sold a bunch of fake gold jewelry. I’m guessing the older fellas aren’t sleeping in pup tents. And that the Tour could have appropriated that scheduling slot to the big boys if it really wanted to, then turned it into a Fedex Cup fiesta a few years later.

Meanwhile, the match-play finale isn’t going to happen because Accenture is said to hold exclusive rights on the format – someone must think a second collection of matches would weaken the WGC event. Anyway, there’s no crime in envisioning a perfect world, which it obviously isn’t.

Instead of having perfect weather and tiny galleries at Pebble Beach next week, we’ll probably get perfect weather and tiny galleries in Atlanta.

IT’S NOT LIKE I don’t think Jim Furyk is a Hall of Famer. In the golden age of pro golf’s power era, Furyk is by far the most successful control player alive. Sixteen career wins and a major title, eight U.S. Ryder Cup teams, the FedEx Cup overall crown in 2010 ...

You can find plenty of enshrined guys who have done less, which is the problem. When the Hall relocated to northern Florida and fell under Tour auspices 15 years ago, I was given a vote, which might have lasted two years. I quickly realized my WGHOF standards were quite different from those of most others – I originally thought you needed multiple major titles to even warrant consideration.

Then again, I wasn’t using the new Hall to sell real estate or cross-promote various business interests. Some sports journalists are under the godforsaken impression that commercial motives shouldn’t come into play on the highest of honors – silly me. So I gave back my vote and have watched the WGHOF lower its standards to the point where someone has to be inducted every year, which doesn’t make me angry or sad. Just a bit uninterested.

Back to Furyk. If Colin Montgomerie, who never won an official golf tournament in the United States, can get in so quickly, they should give Not-So-Jumbo Jimbo the keys to the place. Yes, Monty won seven consecutive European Tour money titles and was indeed a Ryder Cup hero many times over, but his dominance overseas came at a time when most top-tier European players were competing in the United States.

A big fish in a small pond, Montgomerie’s reluctance to go head-to-head on a regular basis as a member of the world’s best tour never sat well with me – and might have accounted for his inability to win in the U.S. That said, the guy is in the Hall, and they’re not gonna be holding a re-vote anytime soon.

Furyk’s 59 last Friday was a milestone achievement in a career defined by accomplishment. One great round may not strengthen his WGHOF case, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. Over the years, I’ve gotten a sense that Furyk has been a bit unloved. It’s not unusual for one of my live chats to include a complaint about his deliberate manner, the perception being that Furyk is a slow player, which he really isn’t.

His late collapses at last year’s U.S. Open and WGC-Bridgestone Invitational didn’t exactly fortify his popularity level, and his inability to hole a crucial putt at the Ryder Cup reaffirmed to some that he has underachieved against the Euros. I see a dude who has been one of America’s best players for the better part of two decades, a gritty short hitter who has thrived in the land of giants.

He’s a virtual lock to make the Hall of Fame regardless, and when he does get inducted, nobody will remember that Furyk squandered another final-round lead at the BMW Championship Monday afternoon. For better or worse.

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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.”