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Awards season: Who will win LPGA hardware?

By Randall MellOctober 17, 2017, 8:44 pm

Important prizes hang in the balance with the LPGA’s season in its home stretch.

This week’s Swinging Skirts Taiwan Championship is the first of five events that will test the finishing kicks of the world’s best women.

Rolex world No. 1 So Yeon Ryu and No. 2 Sung Hyun Park will continue their tight battle for the top world ranking in Taiwan while also jockeying for position to claim other coveted awards and honors. No. 3 Lexi Thompson isn’t in this week’s field.

Ryu’s reign as world No. 1 extends to 17 consecutive weeks, but Park is just .24 points behind her in average world ranking points.

The season-ending CME Group Tour Championship will decide who wins the Race to the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot and likely a lot of other coveted awards.

Park is best positioned to try to sweep all the major awards left to be won. Here’s a look at how those award races are playing out:


Rolex Player of the Year

Unlike the PGA Tour, the LPGA’s POY isn’t decided by a player vote. If it were, this year’s race would be a tough choice.

The LPGA decides this award in a points-based race, and here are the standings:

1. So Yeon Ryu, 153
2. Lexi Thompson, 147
3. Sung Hyun Park, 142
4. In-Kyung Kim, 124
5. Anna Nordqvist, 114

There are 30 points awarded to the winner in regular tour events, including the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship, with 12 for second place, nine for third and on down to a single point for 10th place.

Ryu and Park are each committed to playing in four of the final five events. So far, Thompson is listed on the published field lists of just two of them.

Here’s a summary of the seasons for these top five players:

Ryu – Two victories, including a major (ANA Inspiration, Walmart NW Arkansas Championship), 11 top-10 finishes, six top-five finishes. Leads in Rolex Player of the Year points.

Thompson – Two victories (Kingsmill Championship, Indy Women in Tech Championship), nine top-10 finishes, eight top-five finishes. Thompson was runner up five times, three of them playoff losses. Leads Race to the CME Globe standings.

Park – Two victories, one of them a major (U.S. Women’s Open, Canadian Pacific Women’s Open), eight top-10 finishes, seven top-five finishes. Leads the money-winning list and leads the tour in low scoring average.

Kim –Three victories, one of them a major (Shoprite Classic, Marathon Classic, Ricoh Women’s British Open), five top-10 finishes, three top-five finishes.

Nordqvist – Two victories, one of them a major (Bank of Hope Founders Cup, Evian Championship), five top-10 finishes, three top-five finishes.



Vare Trophy

Park overtook Thompson at last weekend’s KEB Hana Bank Championship as the leader in tour scoring average.

1. Sung Hyun Park, 69.014
2. Lexi Thompson, 69.125
3. In Gee Chun, 69.366
4. Stacy Lewis, 69.545
5. So Yeon Ryu, 69.657


Money-winning title

Park topped the $2 million earnings mark this season with her second-place finish at the KEB Hana Bank Championship on Sunday.

1. Sung Hyun Park, $2,092,623
2. So Yeon Ryu, $1,829,596
3. Lexi Thompson, $1,681,686
4. Brooke Henderson, $1,399,905
5. Anna Nordqvist, $1,192,428


Race to the CME Globe

The top 12 in points going to Naples in the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship will have a shot at the $1 million jackpot in the season-long points race. Anyone among the top five is guaranteed to win the big payday with a victory in Naples.

A victory is worth 500 points, with second place earning 300, third earning 190, with points awarded among the top 70 or top 40, depending if there’s a cut in the event.

1. Lexi Thompson, 3,266
2. Sung Hyun Park, 2,919
3. So Yeon Ryu, 2,776
4. Brooke Henderson, 2,631
5. In Gee Chun, 2,475
6. Ariya Jutanugarn, 2,242
7. Moriya Jutanugarn, 2,071
8. Stacy Lewis, 2,045
9. In-Kyung Kim, 2,031
10. Anna Nordqvist, 2,024
11. Cristie Kerr, 1,998
12. Sei Young Kim, 1,890
13. Minjee Lee, 1,789
14. Lydia Ko, 1,707
15. Amy Yang, 1,683


Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year

Park is in position to join Nancy Lopez as the only players in LPGA history to win the Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year awards in the same season.

Park has already clinched the Rookie of the Year points-based award. There is 150 points awarded for a first-place finish, and no rookie can catch Park, even by winning every remaining event.

1. Sung Hyun Park, 1,413
2. Angel Yin, 615
3. Nelly Korda, 422

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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.”