As Hall of Fame door opens up, so does Park

By Randall MellJune 9, 2016, 12:36 am

SAMMAMISH, Wash. – Inbee Park says her final putt to complete Thursday’s first round of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship may be the most thrilling of her career.

When that last putt drops, she will officially become a member of the most difficult Hall of Fame to qualify for in sports.

She will be an LPGA Hall of Famer.

“I really can’t imagine myself walking up to 18 and just actually waiting for that last putt,” Park said. “It’s going to feel so much better than maybe a championship putt.”

The big question is whether Park can play through the pain in her left thumb to get to that last putt and actually qualify for the Hall of Fame. While she met the 27-point requirement for induction late last year, she still has to meet the tour’s 10-year membership requirement. She needs to make her 10th start this year to do so and she must finish the round to do that on Thursday.

“I always believe in myself, that I can overcome all these kinds of injuries, all the tests,” Park said. “I've overcome so many other obstacles in my golfing life. And I really believe that I can overcome this.”

Park has exemplified class in her 10-year career, and qualifying for induction ought to be a glorious affair. She deserves that.

That’s the potentially difficult deal with the way Thursday is setting up, because nobody should want to see Park struggling to reach the finish line. Leave it to Park, though, to put everyone’s mind at ease with her sophisticated perspective. Even if Thursday’s tough, even if the thumb makes her march to the finish line agonizing, she says there will be something fitting in that. She says there will be poetry even in that, because if we’re going to celebrate the entire scope of her career, we’ll see there was a lot of pain and heartache that had to be overcome to get to the Hall of Fame’s front door. In fact, there’s probably been more pain than glory in every Hall of Famer’s career.

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“Playing good golf is Inbee Park, and playing bad golf is also me,” Park said. “I'm thankful for every moment that I had the last 10 years, whether it's a struggle, whether it's successful moments. And that's why I'm here. Maybe this is happening for a reason. I really do believe that everything happens for a reason.

“If I was just successful all the way through from the start of my career, and if I didn't have any obstacles or hard tests, I probably wouldn't appreciate where I am right now.”

Park, 27, knows all the questions swirling about her won’t end even after she makes that last putt Thursday and becomes just the 24th player to make it into the LPGA Hall of Fame.

Where does she go next? Will the inflammation in the ligament and tendon of her left thumb allow her to compete for a gold medal in this summer’s Olympics? Or will the injury force her to shut down her game and get the rest she needs, or the medical treatment she needs? Will her desire to start a family lead her to leave the game entirely?

Park addressed all of that in the best way she could, with the class she has always exhibited in the face of the hardest questions.

About retirement . . .

“If knew right now how long I'm going to play, I'd tell you,” Park said. “Unfortunately, there is no surprise announcement right now, whether I'm going to quit after this week or I'm going to retire after this year. I really don't have the answer for you right now.”

Park said she will play as long she’s happy doing so.

“I am happy right now that I'm here, so I am playing,” she said. “But [the end] can be tomorrow. It can be three years. It can be five years. It can change overnight.”

About wanting to start a family . . .

“Obviously, I'd like to have a family, probably within three years or so,” she said. “And after that, I'm not sure if I'm going to play professionally, or whether I'm going to just retire. That, I don't know.”

About how her thumb is holding up after causing her to withdraw after posting a career-high 84 in her last start two weeks ago . . .

“Over the last week or last 10 days, I definitely felt some improvement,” Park said. “I don't feel as much pain as before. I can see improvement and that’s really important.”

On whether she can make a run at becoming the first woman to win the same major championship four consecutive years . . .

“I wasn't going to miss this opportunity, no matter what,” Park said. “It's hard, because I've seen my scores, and I've seen where my balls were going the last month or two. I know there is pain, and I know it's not easy, but you've just got to overcome that challenge. I'm not going to die because of the thumb pain. That's the good news.”

On whether she thinks she can recover from the injury and compete in the Olympics in August . . .

“If it was, like, two weeks ago, I would say I probably can't play,” Park said. “But right now, I think I definitely have a chance to play . . . , It's just hard, because it's still two months away and I just don't know what my thumb is going to do until then. It's hard because it's for the country. It's not for individual, same as UL International Crown that we're going to have next month. If I'm not at my full condition, I kind of feel like I need to give a chance to somebody else who can perform so much better than me at the moment.”

It’s human nature to wonder where Park goes next, but that really shouldn’t be what Thursday’s about. It isn’t about the questions that will linger. It’s about celebrating the answers she has already so magnificently provided in earning her way into the LPGA Hall of Fame.

When Park’s last putt drops Thursday, she’ll join Babe Zaharias, Louise Suggs, Patty Berg, Betsy Rawls, Mickey Wright, Kathy Whitworth, Annika Sorenstam and 16 other greats in the most select Hall of Fame in sport.

“It just feels surreal,” Park said. “I really, truly, feel honored that I get to put my name among the greatest players in the world.”

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Storms halt Barbasol before Lincicome tees off

By Associated PressJuly 20, 2018, 11:29 pm

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - Brittany Lincicome will have to wait until the weekend to resume her bid to make the cut in a PGA Tour event.

Overnight storms delayed the start of the second round Friday in the Barbasol Championship, and an afternoon thunderstorm suspended competition for good. The round will resume Saturday morning with much of the field still to play.

The second stoppage at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came 20 minutes before Lincicome's scheduled tee time.

Lincicome was near the bottom of the field after opening with a 6-over 78 on Thursday. The first LPGA player since Michelle Wie in 2008 to start a PGA Tour event, she needs a huge rebound to join Babe Zaharias (1945) as the only female players to make the cut.

Troy Merritt had the clubhouse lead at 15 under, following an opening 62 with a 67.

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Third-round tee times for the 147th Open

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2018, 9:05 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Eighteen major champions made the cut at The Open and will be playing the weekend at Carnoustie, including 60-year-old ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, and both major champs so far this year, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka.

Twenty-four-year-old Gavin Green will be first off solo Saturday at 4:15 a.m. ET. Reed and Rhys Enoch will follow along 10 minutes later.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, both at even par for the tournament, six shots behind leaders Zach Johnson and Kevin Kisner, are in consecutive groups. Mickelson is playing with Austin Cook at 8:05 a.m. and Woods is with South Africa’s Shaun Norris at 8:15 a.m.

Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, both three shots off the lead, are also in consecutive groups. Fowler is at 10 a.m. with Thorbjorn Olesen and Spieth is 10 minutes later with Kevin Chappell. Rory McIlroy, looking to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship, is at 10:40 a.m. with Xander Schauffele. McIlroy is two shots behind.

Johnson and Kisner are last off at 11 a.m.

4:15AM ET: Gavin Green

4:25AM ET: Rhys Enoch, Patrick Reed

4:35AM ET: Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Justin Rose

4:45AM ET: Yusaku Miyazato, Tyrrell Hatton

4:55AM ET: Ross Fisher, Keegan Bradley

5:05AM ET: Ryan Fox, Jason Dufner

5:15AM ET: Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson

5:25AM ET: Tom Lewis, Sam Locke (a)

5:35AM ET: Paul Casey, Chris Wood

5:45AM ET: Bernhard Langer, Rafa Cabrera Bello

6:00AM ET: Paul Dunne, Brett Rumford

6:10AM ET: Masahiro Kawamura, Shubhankar Sharma

6:20AM ET: Cameron Smith, Brendan Steele

6:30AM ET: Marc Leishman, Lee Westwood

6:40AM ET: Byeong Hun An, Kevin Na

6:50AM ET: Julian Suri, Adam Hadwin

7:00AM ET: Gary Woodland, Si-Woo Kim

7:10AM ET: Yuta Ikeda, Satoshi Kodaira

7:20AM ET: Marcus Kinhult, Thomas Pieters

7:30AM ET: Beau Hossler, Haotong Li

7:45AM ET: Cameron Davis, Sean Crocker

7:55AM ET: Louis Oosthuizen, Stewart Cink

8:05AM ET: Phil Mickeslon, Austin Cook

8:15AM ET: Tiger Woods, Shaun Norris

8:25AM ET: Lucas Herbert, Michael Kim

8:35AM ET: Jason Day, Francesco Molinari

8:45AM ET: Sung Kang, Webb Simpson

8:55AM ET: Patrick Cantlay, Eddie Pepperell

9:05AM ET: Matthew Southgate, Brooks Koepka

9:15AM ET: Kyle Stanley, Adam Scott

9:30AM ET: Charley Hoffman, Alex Noren

9:40AM ET: Ryan Moore, Brandon Stone

9:50AM ET: Luke List, Danny Willett

10:00AM ET: Thorbjorn Olesen, Rickie Fowler

10:10AM ET: Jordan Spieth, Kevin Chappell

10:20AM ET: Zander Lombard, Tony Finau

10:30AM ET: Matt Kuchar, Erik Van Rooyen

10:40AM ET: Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele

10:50AM ET: Pat Perez, Tommy Fleetwood

11:00AM ET: Kevin Kisner, Zach Johnson

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Facial hair Fowler's new good-luck charm

By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 8:12 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Before, during and after the Fourth of July, Rickie Fowler missed a few appointments with his razor.

He arrived in the United Kingdom for last week’s Scottish Open still unshaved and he tied for sixth place. Fowler, like most golfers, can give in to superstition, so he's decided to keep the caveman look going for this week’s Open Championship.

“There could be some variations,” he smiled following his round on Friday at Carnoustie.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

At this rate, he may never shave again. Fowler followed an opening 70 with a 69 on Friday to move into a tie for 11th place, just three strokes off the lead.

Fowler also has some friendly competition in the beard department, with his roommate this week Justin Thomas also going for the rugged look.

“I think he kind of followed my lead in a way. I think he ended up at home, and he had a little bit of scruff going. It's just fun,” Fowler said. “We mess around with it. Obviously, not taking it too seriously. But like I said, ended up playing halfway decent last week, so I couldn't really shave it off going into this week.”

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Spieth (67) rebounds from tough Round 1 finish

By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 7:55 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Guess whose putter is starting to heat up again at a major?

Even with a few wayward shots Friday at Carnoustie, Jordan Spieth made a significant climb up the leaderboard in the second round, firing a 4-under 67 to move just three shots off the lead.

Spieth showed his trademark grit in bouncing back from a rough finish Thursday, when he mis-clubbed on the 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, and ended up playing the last four holes in 4 over.

“I don’t know if I actually regrouped,” he said. “It more kind of fires me up a little.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

Spieth missed more than half of his fairways in the second round, but he was able to play his approach shots from the proper side of the hole. Sure, he “stole a few,” particularly with unlikely birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 after errant drives, but he took advantage and put himself in position to defend his claret jug.

Spieth needed only 25 putts in the second round, and he credited a post-round adjustment Thursday for the improvement. The tweak allows his arms to do more of the work in his stroke, and he said he felt more confident on the greens.

“It’s come a long way in the last few months, no doubt,” he said.

More than anything, Spieth was relieved not to have to play “cut-line golf” on Friday, like he’s done each start since his spirited run at the Masters.

“I know that my swing isn’t exactly where I want it to be; it’s nowhere near where it was at Birkdale,” he said. “But the short game is on point, and the swing is working in the right direction to get the confidence back.”