Mickelson still has shot at fourth green jacket

By Randall MellApril 12, 2015, 12:53 am

AUGUSTA, Ga. – What’s a guy have to do to get noticed around here?

Win a fourth green jacket?

Phil Mickelson was pretty much an afterthought entering this Masters, an aging former champion winless in almost two full years, with just a single top-10 finish in a PGA Tour event over this season and last.

He wasn’t on the marquee with the stars getting top billing here.

This week was all about the return of Tiger Woods, and Rory McIlroy’s bid to win the career Grand Slam.

Mickelson wasn’t even the best lefty at Augusta National with Bubba Watson the favorite to win his third Masters’ title in four seasons.

And when this Masters finally got started, fresh-faced Jordan Spieth stole the show in his bid to smash records and make history. Spieth’s brilliance only served to make Mickelson seem even older, even closer to officially being washed up with his 45th birthday less than two months away.

And yet when Saturday’s dizzying twists and turns finally skidded to a stop, there was Mickelson, back in the mix. He will tee it up Sunday with a chance to be the guy making all the history that matters. He’s seeking his sixth major championship title.

With a 5-under-par 67, Mickelson equaled the best score posted Saturday, putting himself in position to join Jack Nicklaus (6), Arnold Palmer (4) and Tiger Woods (4) as the only players to win four or more green jackets.

“I just love it,” Mickelson said. “It's what I dreamed about as a kid. It's what motivated me in the off season, four or five days a week, to get up at 5:30 and work out, dreaming of this, giving myself an opportunity in this tournament.

“Granted, I've got a lot of work to do tomorrow, and I'm quite a ways back. A good round though, and it could be fun.”

Mickelson will start the final round five shots back of Spieth, and if you watched Saturday’s finish, five shots seems as small as it’s ever been on the back nine at Augusta National. Mickelson was part of the head-spinning twists and turns late in the third round, drama that makes anything seem possible Sunday.

In a breathless four-hole stretch on the back nine, Mickelson went from seven behind Spieth to four down, then back to seven down before ending five back.

“It really is the best,” Mickelson said of being in the hunt at the Masters. “To play late on the weekends in Augusta, perfect weather, the golf course just stupendous today, it couldn’t have been any better.”

Mickelson rolled into Augusta National believing this was possible.

“I think driving down Magnolia Lane is rejuvenating,” Mickelson said at week’s start. “It gives me a new energy. It's exciting, and I think that energy helps me work hard, play hard and focus better and play my best.”

He wasn’t kidding.

Majors, in general, bring the best out of Mickelson now. He finished second to McIlroy at the PGA Championship in August. That was his only top-10 in a PGA Tour event in 2014. His last victory anywhere in the world was the British Open in July of 2013. Mickelson has finished first or second in three of his last seven starts in majors.

Mickelson wore pink Sunday in honor of Palmer, who made so many brilliant Sunday charges at the Masters with his bold play. Mickelson is known for the same risk-loving style of play.

“It's not my color, it doesn't look good on me, and I don't wear it well, but I had a premonition after spending time with Arnold Palmer,” Mickelson said. “He likes to wear this color. I just had a feeling that I needed to make a move, and I had it in the bag and pulled it out.”

Eight back at day’s start, Mickelson got himself within four shots of Spieth, burying a dramatic 60-foot birdie putt at the 16th hole.

“It’s crazy to make that putt,” Mickelson said. “I’m just trying to two putt it.”

Mickelson lost some momentum making bogey at the 17th, but he got some help from a stumbling Spieth at the end to stay within reach.

Mickelson said he’ll be looking to a favorite color to inspire him to another bold Sunday finish.

“I like to wear dark colors on Sunday,” Mickelson said. “I've won three times here wearing black shirts, so I'll wear a black shirt tomorrow. It also helps me get more aggressive. Studies have shown NFL teams, when they wear black, they have more penalties. That's what I need to do tomorrow, play more aggressive.”

Mickelson’s birdie at the 16th looked as if it would get him in the final pairing with Spieth, but his bogey puts him out with Charley Hoffman in the group directly in front of Spieth. That’s where Mickelson said he prefers to be.

“I was hoping to be the group in front [of Spieth], and if I can start posting some birdies, I think it's much more difficult to follow than it is to lead,” he said.

Mickelson respects Spieth and believes he will be tough to beat.

“He would just be a great champion,” Mickelson said. “He's just a classy guy. He just represents the game very well and at a very young age, and he's just got a lot of game.

“I'm going to try to stop him, but we'll see how it goes.”

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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.”