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How to rescue U.S. women's golf: Inkster is the key

By Randall MellJanuary 30, 2018, 10:59 pm

Juli Inkster broke the American Solheim Cup captain’s mold Tuesday with news she will lead the team for a third consecutive time.

Nobody has ever led three U.S. teams.

This is historic, this move to make the most of Inkster’s ability to shape, mold and motivate women.

But why stop there?

Here is one man’s idea to expand Inkster’s transcendent gifts to an even more historically impactful role.

Make Inkster Captain America in the largest sense.

If forward thinking minds are willing to give her creative new reach, she might prove to be as good for what ails American women’s golf overall as she has been for the American Solheim Cup effort.

Make Inkster the point person for a collaborative new American developmental program that is still in its infancy, a program that could become a new U.S. pipeline to the women’s game if developed more fully.

The LPGA, USGA, PGA of America, PGA Tour and Augusta National have been working together to create a new American developmental model to guide youth through the game.

Make Inkster the face of that collaboration.

Make her the captain of that effort, too.

Make her the full-time American Solheim Cup captain for as long as she wants the job, with a larger mission to grow the women’s game.

Call it the American Women’s Golf Initiative and formalize that new collaborative effort.

Make her a salaried LPGA executive in that expanded role, a special assistant to commissioner Mike Whan. The tour couldn’t make a better investment in the future of women’s golf. They would be a formidable team.

With the women’s game continuing to grow globally, with Asian dominance expanding beyond South Korea, the Americans could use a more organized effort to bolster their women.

LPGA-USGA Girls’ Golf is growing at an impressive rate. Whan loves to cite the numbers. The next step is developmental, turning the growing interest into world-class talent.

“Americans need to do something before they become extinct,” Gary Gilchrist, who coaches world No. 1 Shanshan Feng and major championship winners Lydia Ko and Ariya Jutantugarn, told last year.

Inkster, by the way, has no idea this observer imagines a more formalized role like this for her. She may have no interest in it, but she is definitely interested in using her captaincy in larger ways this time around, to advocate for young women in the game. She understands the uniquely influential role the Solheim Cup stage gives her, and she is becoming more confident using it.

We saw that after Inkster led the Americans to victory in Iowa last summer. Near the end of the winner’s news conference, she wasn’t afraid to use her platform.

Proud of the entertainment value the women offered in Des Moines, she spoke out against the inequities she sees other weeks.

“I'm going to say it right now, and I probably shouldn't say it, but I just don't understand how all these companies get away with supporting PGA Tour events and not supporting the LPGA,” Inkster said there. “It makes me a little upset, because I think we've got a great product. We deserve our due.”

Inkster, 57, is already an LPGA Hall of Famer. She has won 31 times, with seven major championship titles. She sees the Solheim Cup captaincy as a chance to win more than another trophy.

“Four years ago, I probably wouldn’t have said what I said in Iowa,” Inkster told on Tuesday. “I’m getting more confident in myself. Even at 57, I’m still learning.

“I didn’t say that in Iowa to be feminist. I said it as a woman golfer, with daughters, wanting the best for the LPGA, because I think we have a great brand, and I don’t think we get the respect we deserve, sometimes.”

Inkster said she didn’t intend for that to be controversial.

“I wanted to say it in a way that did not sound like `Woe is me,’ or `Woe is the LPGA.’ I think all the girls love what they do and feel fortunate they can make a living doing it, but can we do better? Yes, we can do better.”

“The golf was so good in Iowa, and we had such great crowds there, I just wanted people to be impressed how good it was. It was the perfect moment to bring out what I was feeling, that I think things should start changing a little bit.”

In so many ways, Inkster was the star of the American team in Iowa and also when they won in a+ historic comeback in Germany two years before that.

Inkster didn’t hit a shot as the captain of those teams, but she dominated those stages, completely transforming the American team into her own image.

“Each one of us had a little bit of Juli in us,” Stacy Lewis said.

We saw that in the Opening Ceremony in both Germany and Iowa, when the American players abandoned their stiletto heels to wear the old Chuck Taylor Converse basketball shoes that Inkster loves to wear.

We saw it in the red-, white-and-blue lunch buckets Inkster’s players embraced as their team gift in Germany and the hard hats she got them in Iowa.

Mostly, we saw it in the way the Americans conducted themselves, in the way they worked hard, played hard, loved hard and laughed as much as they could along the way.

“Juli is a freaking rock star,” Gerina Piller said. “We look up to her so much.”

That’s what gives Inkster a chance to touch more than a Solheim Cup trophy with her reach this time around.

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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.”