The Young and the Restless

By Kraig KannSeptember 16, 2005, 4:00 pm
Annika Sorenstam defends this week at the John Q. Hammons Hotel Classic. No question shes the best player on the LPGA.
 
Given the Solheim Cup theater we witnessed last week, Im still convinced shes the player to beat in any tournament she plays. But is she still the undisputed star of the ladies game?
 
Somehow Paula Creamers name has really become the hot button for LPGA discussion. She made the claim that the USA would win, and they did. She played a huge role in that win, including a 7 and 5 dusting of the great Laura Davies in the Sunday singles matches. (By the way, Creamer is paired with Davies off the 10th tee in Round 1.)
 
Paula Creamer
Rookie Paula Creamer has taken the LPGA by storm in 2005.
At age 19, Creamer might be too young to know what shes saying at times, but her youth might just be what allows her to back it up. No fear. Creamer might not yet be the best player on the LPGA, but you could make the argument that she is the top draw at this weeks event.
 
Now we see what Creamer can do with her new status as the It Girl. How many wins before years end. Perhaps the ADT Championship to cap off her rookie season? Creamer, in my mind, has a huge opportunity the rest of the year to set the tone for next years LPGA majors.
 
Annika began 2005 saying it was her goal to win all four major championships in one year. She fell short. Now, I have a question for you. Does she have a fighting chance to accomplish that goal with Creamer in the mix? You tell me.
 
Mark Calcavecchia won last weeks Bell Canadian Open. A hearty congrats to Calc for getting back into the winners circle after a four-year drought. Calcavecchia became the seventh 40-something to win this season on the PGA Tour. At 45 years of age, he also became the oldest to win the Bell Canadian Open.
 
I talked with Mark early this season at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic. He told me he actually doubted hed get the 12th PGA Tour title he coveted. Watching players like Tiger and Vijay and Ernie and Phil, Calc thought he had to be too perfect to piece together a victory run. True, Tiger and Ernie and Phil were not in the field at Vancouver, but Calcavecchia found the winning formula on a tough course when many ' perhaps Calc himself included ' thought it might have been a tall order.
 
Mark finds his way to Kapalua once again. And I think thats great. I dont really care whos in the field. To win is to win. And to me, a Mark Calcavecchia win is a good thing for the PGA Tour. A likeable guy, a man with a major, a man with Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup experience deserves a pat on the back from golf fans.
 
But I ask you. is it good enough to garner your respect if the biggest names werent challenging him down the stretch? Calc was a restless player closer to the Champions Tour than to his form of old. Would you have rather seen him limp towards 50 or rebound to make his name commonplace once again?
 
Mark O Meara held a share of the lead after Day 1 at the 84 Lumber Classic. How do you feel about OMeara? Another man approaching the Champions Tour, Mark is 48 years old and deserving of respect for a career that included two majors in one year (1998) after he turned 40 years old.
 
How good would it be if OMeara were to catch lightning in the bottle this week and make it two straight 40-somethings holding trophies?
 
Sure, OMeara isnt the consistent force that he might have been a few years ago. But I think a win would be great for the PGA Tour. Proof yet again that these guys are good no matter what the birth certificate tells us.
 
Age is nothing more than a number. Doing it well at 19 ' some would say ' is just as improbable as doing it well at 45 or 48.
 
But isnt that the beauty of golf? Isnt that the intrigue of the professional game? Isnt a story or two like this great for headlines and copy when there are no majors left and there isnt always a Tiger, Phil or Ernie in the mix?

You tell me.
 
Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann
Getty Images

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.

 

 

Getty Images

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.”

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.”