Park prepares to build upon stellar 2013

By Randall MellApril 1, 2014, 9:30 pm

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – How does an artist follow up a masterpiece?

How daunting were the challenges for Michelangelo after he painted the Sistine Chapel? Or for Beethoven after he composed his ninth symphony?

The first major championship of the year arrives with that question.

How does Rolex world No. 1 Inbee Park follow up the artistry she exhibited in last year’s majors?

Park didn’t just win the Kraft Nabisco Championship in 2013. She launched a major championship run the likes of which the women’s game hadn’t witnessed in six decades. By going on to win the Wegmans LPGA Championship and the U.S. Women’s Open, Park became the first woman to win the first three majors of the year since Babe Zaharias in 1950.

Park, 25, may well leap into Poppie’s Pond after topping the field at the Kraft Nabisco again this week, but how does she top herself in the 2014 majors? How does she top one of the greatest seasons in the history of women’s majors?

“Every new season, I think about doing better than the last season,” Park said. “That’s usually my goal. Obviously, it’s going to be very tough to beat last year.”

Tough? She would have to do something no man or woman has ever done. She would have to win four major championships in the same calendar year. Park, though, says tournament results aren’t a total gauge of how she measures success. Park said she elevated her game, in great part, by focusing on being a complete person, on being content and happy off the course. She says she is tackling the challenges this year in the same way.

If you think that’s a lot of nonsense, ask LPGA pros who have been around Park the last four or five years.

“You always see her and her fiancé when they're traveling,” Stacy Lewis said when asked about the difference in Park’s game last year. “They're always holding hands, walking in the airport, and they are very cute together. You can tell she's very happy in her life, and obviously very happy with where her golf game is. More than anything, that's what's showing in her game.”

Fellow South Korean Na Yeon Choi envies more than Park’s great putting skills.

“Sometimes, I’m very jealous of Inbee, because she has a very happy life,” Choi said.

Park’s formula for contentment, however, links her heart and swing in ways few players do.

That’s because Park’s swing coach is also her fiancé. She has been engaged to Gi Hyeob Nam for more than two years. Nam began traveling with her full time in 2012, and it’s no coincidence her game took off about the same time.

Nam’s magic runs beyond the heart.

Park broke through to win the U.S. Women’s Open when she was 19 at Interlachen, becoming the youngest winner of the championship. After that, she endured four winless seasons amid some erratic ball striking. Her game came together in a hurry with Nam guiding her.

Nam found something in Park’s swing that turned around her waywardness. He fixed her early release, creating a lower ball flight.

When Park accepted her Rolex Player of the Year Award last year, she talked about what Nam’s commitment to her means.

“He took a tremendous risk when he decided to stand by me and support me on the tour,” Park said. “I don’t think I could thank him enough for the sacrifices he has made. Despite not speaking English, he made a decision to move to a foreign country with only one thing, faith in me.

“Some people say he is the lucky one, but they are wrong. I am the lucky one. Because of him, I was able to fall in love again with golf. I began to enjoy my life on tour and that is reflected in my play.”

Park is off to a strong start again this year. She won the World Ladies Championship on the Ladies European Tour last month and has finished in the top 10 in all four of her LPGA starts this year. She believes her ball striking is better than it was a year ago, and she's waiting for her putter to get hot.

“I’m going to have tough weeks,” Park said. “But, I think, just being a happier person, not thinking so much about results, just thinking about what I can do and what I can control.”


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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.”