Monday Scramble: Sights, sounds and surprises

By Mercer BaggsOctober 5, 2015, 3:30 pm

It's raining PGA Tour cards in Ponte Vedra Beach (!), the Presidents Cup is upon us (!), and Anthony Kim speaks (!) in this week's super exciting edition of Monday Scramble.

He's alive! He's alive! He's aliiiive!

Anthony Kim spoke to the Associated Press in a story released early Tuesday morning. In it, Kim said he was suffering through multiple injuries over the years and was going to "step away from the game for a little while" to rehab his body.

Step away? From what? So Kim is now going to really, truly, honestly not play professional golf? Yes. Triple stamp, no errasies.

Kim is a fascinating figure because he dropped off the radar and left the public wondering why. But, more so, it has to do with his demeanor and perception. Any number of three-time Tour winners could go MIA and we wouldn't stop setting our fantasy football lineups to notice. But Kim was young, brash and he partied. He sported long hair and big belt buckles (scandalous!). Add in reports of multiple tattoos with occasional rumors and you have a guy who, in the golf world, is ripe for celeb-type gossip and intrigue.

Let's hope he plays on Tour again, and doesn't step away from stepping away from stepping away. The Tour is deep with young talent, 20-somethings who are gifted, marketable and personalbe. But there's still an element of flavor missing. An extra does of spice to what Patrick Reed offers. Otherwise we live in a golf world where Rickie Fowler is considered "extreme." Sigh.

1. Jordan Spieth was named Player of the Year on Friday. That's what a 1-1-4-2 finish in majors, along with three other Tour wins and a FedEx Cup title will get you. That and $22 million. Commissioner Tim Finchem refuses to make voting results public. It's hard to fathom this wasn't unanimous, but, if it wasn't, that shows why such Skull-and-Bones secrecy is detrimental. The more you hold people accountable, the closer you get to honest results.

2. The Tour's Rookie of the Year was - one can only imagine without actual percentages to gauge - a much closer contest. Daniel Berger prevailed over Justin Thomas, Nick Taylor and Tony Finau. It seems pretty clear-cut: If you can make the Tour Championship, you can win ROY. But what really matters is where Berger goes from here. The last seven Rookie of the Year winners have combined for 10 Tour victories since their freshman honor, and eight of those have come from two players: Speith and Fowler. Berger is also the first player since Fowler in 2010 to win ROY without winning a Tour event.

3. Jim Furyk made it official on Friday when he announced that a lingering wrist injury would keep him out of the Presidents Cup. Furyk, who has a 20-10-3 record in seven Presidents Cup appearances, will serve as an assistant captain to Jay Haas. J.B. Holmes was selected to replace him. This is one of those things where you could debate the effect that this will have on the U.S. team ... but then you remember it's the Presidents Cup and it probably won't affect the outcome.

4. Emiliano Grillo captured the Tour Championship and was one of 25 players to earn PGA Tour cards through the finals series. Added to the 25 players who were already in based on their seasonal earnings and that's 50 new/returning members to the Big League. Chez Reavie leads the way, with Rob Oppenheim claiming the final spot by $101 over Eric Axley. Check out Will Gray's column for more on Oppenheim and the final-day drama.

5. Oppenheim was one of five players to crack the finals' top 25 in the final event, along with Derek Fathauer, Tyrone Van Aswegen, Robert Garrigus and Thomas Aiken. Garrigus got it done by making an 11-foot par putt on his final hole. The five who dropped out: Axley, Ryan Spears, Steve Allan, Justin Hicks and Jhonattan Vegas. Don't worry, boys, there's always Q-School. Oh, wait. No there's not.

6. Suzann Pettersen gave a one-on-one interview to Golf Channel's Tim Rosaforte this past week, in which she again apologized for her actions at the Solheim Cup. senior writer Randall Mell, however, wanted more answers. Pettersen certainly deserves her share of blame over what transpired on the 17th hole that Saturday in Germany, but not to be forgotten: Alison Lee picked up her ball when her putt was not conceded. She kick-started the controversy with her carelessness. Regardless of what she thought she heard or maybe what she assumed, Lee deserves a heap of blame placed on her shoulders.

7. SMU's men's golf team received a post-season ban and reduction of scholarships after the NCAA found multiple violations involving recruiting and unethical conduct under former head coach Josh Gregory. The penalty means senior Bryson DeChambeau will not be able to defend his individual national championship title. Obviously, the punishment doesn't fit the crime, but NCAA "justice" doesn't care who suffers as long as someone pays the price. Gregory, who cannot coach in college until 2019, told that he feels "terrible for the kids" and that he has "no desire" to work with the NCAA again. That's rich.

8. Last Wednesday marked the one-year-out-iversary of the 2016 Ryder Cup. Opposing captains Davis Love III and Darren Clarke were showcased and interviewed at Hazeltine National. Love spoke about possibly being a playing captain and leading a team that might not include Woods or Phil Mickelson. Clarke discussed the difficulties in being captain and how he hopes to extend Europe's dominance. And, of course, both men already view themselves as underdogs.

9. Thunderbear HO! Thojborn Olesen captured his third career European Tour victory by winning the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. Olesen was a chic name after a pair of top-10s in the Open Championship and Masters in 2012 and '13, respectively. But he simmered down and also dealt with a hand injury that sidelined him for three months this season. He now has a signature win to his credit, having won an event contested over three high profile venues: the Old Course, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns. Lion-O would be proud.

10. Americans acquitted themselves well in Scotland at the Dunhill Links. Brooks Koepka and Chris Stroud finished co-runners-up, while 2009 Open champion Stewart Cink tied for ninth. There's really not much else to add. We're filling space here, people.

Did you hear the one about Tiger Woods being a Ryder Cup assistant in 2016? 

Yeah, Judge, that's a doozy.

No, it's not a joke. Davis Love said he'd love to have him if he doesn't make the team and Notah Begay said he'd be a great fit. Definite possibility.

Wait, is that where we are in Tiger's career? How did we get here so fast? I wasn't ready for this. Uh-oh ...

Ever see "The Ring"? The movie where you watch a video and seven days later an evil creature emerges from your TV screen to get you. If you haven't seen the video below of Ernie Els from Thursday at the Alfred Dunhill Links, be forewarned. And if you have, beware. The yips might be coming to getcha.

Bubba Watson appeared with former college coach Chris Haack on SEC Network's Saturday pregame in Athens, Ga., where Georgia was taking on Alabama. Watson took a shot at Tebow, which one should never do, even in jest. Tebow, who had some good moments against the Bulldogs, picked 'Bama to win. 'Bama throttled Georgia.

Lexi Thompson posted a pair of hole-in-one accomplishments, on back-to-back days, to social media. Different holes, different clubs, different shoes, same course.

Jin Cheng, 17 from China, won the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship after the final round was cancelled because of heavy rain and high winds. Hello, Augusta!

Fred Couples turned 56 on Saturday. He celebrated by avoiding human contact and not knowing it was his birthday.

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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.”