Chasing Tiger Phil at Augusta

By Mercer BaggsApril 2, 2007, 4:00 pm
Gosh, all anyone you media types ever talk about in regards to winning the Masters Tournament are Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.
 
Tiger and Phil, Phil and Tiger ' blah, blah, blah. Can you at least try and be original? Try to have your own thoughts. Oh, thats right: you dont have any. Youre just a sheep following the masses, picking the obvious.
 
You know, there are other people in this field. Players who CAN actually beat your treasured Tiger and precious Phil.

 
Thats not an actual e-mail that I received, but one quite similar in content to what I read and hear about this time of year.
 
Yes, there are indeed other players aside from Tiger and Phil in the Masters field. One-hundred and seven men have been invited to compete, and Im sure a few of them will give these two a run for their money this week ' these two who just happen to have won five of the last six Masters titles and seven of the last 12 overall major championships.
 
Here are some of the ones who might make a push but will most likely be unable to topple both Tiger and Phil at Augusta National.
 
Vijay Singh
Vijay Singh's Bay Hill win came with Tiger and Phil in the field. (WireImage)
Vijay Singh:
Why he can win: Hes already won twice this year (as many as Woods and one more than Mickelson), is a past Masters champion, and has cracked the top 10 at Augusta National in each of the last five years.
 
Why he probably wont: Sometimes, results can be deceiving. While Singh might be finishing inside the top 10, hes also finishing, on average, about 6 strokes behind the eventual winner. Hes also having a very difficult time breaking par over the weekend, with his Saturday/Sunday scoring average being in the black. His best weekend performance came in 2004, when he closed 69-69 ' and finished seven back of Mickelson. In 2002, he was only two back entering the final round and shot 76.
 
Adam Scott
Why he can win: He just won last week in Houston, and Mickelson captured the BellSouth and Masters back-to-back a year ago. He also tied for third at last years PGA Championship and was T8 at the Open Championship, his two most recent major championship starts.
 
Why he probably wont: Again, looks are a bit deceiving. Scott was never really in contention in either the 06 British or PGA. He was four back of Woods at Royal Liverpool and shot 72 to Tigers 67 on Sunday. At Medinah, he closed with a 67, but began the day seven in arrears and ultimately made up only one shot on Tiger. Scott tied for ninth in his 2002 Masters debut; he hasnt since broken the top 20. Hes never shot in the 60s in 18 career rounds at Augusta, and no Australian has ever won this event.
 
Ernie Els
Why he can win: He is a two-time runner-up in this event, finished inside the top 10 on five straight occasions, and has three career major championship titles. He also has the desire, wanting nothing more than to win this tournament.
 
Why he probably wont: He may want it too much and that could prove detrimental. He also knows that his window of opportunity is closing and he may press too hard. His two best Sunday performances came when he shot 68 in 2000 and 67 in 2004. Neither time was it good enough for the gold (or green). Hes also played rather poorly over the last two years in majors, accruing only one top-10. That came at last years British, when he was one off the 54-hole lead, but shot 71 on Sunday to finish five back of Woods.
 
Retief Goosen
Why he can win: He has three top-3s here in the last five years. Hes a proven major champion who putts well on fast greens and plays well under difficult conditions. He also won in Qatar on the European Tour earlier this year.
 
Why he probably wont: Goosen's last win on the PGA TOUR came in the 2005 International. In three stroke-play TOUR events this year, he has one finish inside the top 50. His best chance to win the Masters was in 2002, when he was tied with Woods for the lead entering the final round. Woods shot 71 and won by three as Goosen wilted with a 74.
 
Jim Furyk
Jim Furyk has three top-10s this year, but none since the Nissan Open. (WireImage)
Jim Furyk
Why he can win: He had a pair of top-5 finishes in the majors last year and has a trio of top-10s at Augusta throughout his career. He has one major in his pocket and it seems just a matter of time before he collects No. 2. Hes also the second-ranked player in the world.
 
Why he probably wont: As Augusta National continues to grow in length, Furyk has increasingly finished outside the top 10. Having missed the event in 2004 due to his injured wrist, he tied for 28th in 05 and tied for 22nd in 06. Most amazingly, his tie for second in last years U.S. Open and fourth-place showing at the British are his only top-10s in majors since he won the 03 U.S. Open. He has missed twice as many cuts during that stretch.
 
Chris DiMarco
Why he can win: He nearly shocked Tiger in 2005, losing in a playoff, and played in the final twosome on Sunday in 04, falling to Mickelson. He also finished runner-up to Woods in last years Open Championship.
 
Why he probably wont: DiMarco is totally hit or miss in majors. Over the last two years, he has a pair of runner-ups; a T12; a T67; and four missed cuts. But the biggest reason why he wont win: he almost never wins ' hasnt done so on TOUR in over five years.
 
Paul Casey, Sergio Garcia, Padraig Harrington, Luke Donald
Why they can win: They're all very talented; all very successful; all have had chances before to win a major; all have at least one top-10 at the Masters.
 
Why they probably wont: Well, for one, theyre European; and a European hasnt won a major since the 99 British. Casey hasnt shown that he can close out a U.S. tournament; Garcia cant find the bottom of the cup (spit aside) fast enough; Harrington has missed the cut in six of his last nine majors, including each of the two after his narrow miss at last years U.S. Open; Donald will need a Mike-Weir-2003-near-perfect-short-game performance just to have a chance.
 
Mike Weir
Why he can win: Hes the only player not named Tiger or Phil over the last six years to win the Masters.
 
Why he probably wont: He hasnt won a tournament in over three years. Hes still in search of his first top-20 of the season.
 
Charles Howell III
Why he can win: He is an Augusta native who has played this course since he was a kid. He won the Nissan Open in February and had a pair of runner-up finishes to earn his way into the event.
 
Why he probably wont: Like Els, he just wants to win too much. His best finish is a tie for 13th, his only top-25 in five starts. He missed the cut last year shooting 80-84 to finish dead last in the field.
 
Henrik Stenson
Why he can win: He's playing very well going into the event. The Swede won the Dubai Desert Classic with Tiger, Ernie and other notables in attendance. He also took home the WGC-Accenture Match Play. He hits the ball a ton and has a good short game.
 
Why he probably won't: Stenson has only played in seven career major tournaments. He missed the cut in his Masters debut a year ago. He's also a chic pick to win, which means he can't come in under the radar; he has to deal with pressure from the beginning. And he's European.
 
Everyone Else
Why they can win: Plenty of past Masters and other major champions comprise the limited field, as well as a host of world class players.
 
Why they probably wont: Three words: Tiger and Phil.
 
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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.”