Getty Images

Whaley to make more history at U.S. Senior Women’s Open

By Randall MellJuly 11, 2018, 5:39 pm

It’s an historic week in women’s golf.

It’s an epic year for Suzy Whaley, who will make more history for women in the game later this year when she becomes the first female president of the PGA of America.

Whaley will be among 120 players teeing it up in Thursday’s start to the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open at Chicago Golf Club, an opportunity for women over 50 to pursue another USGA Championship.

Some of the greats of the women’s game have lobbied for years for the chance they’ll get this week.

“It’s incredibly exciting,” said Whaley, who played the LPGA for two years before turning her passion for the game to teaching. “It shows the golf business is evolving, that women’s golf is evolving as well. I certainly have a passion for that with the PGA of America. It’s a moment of time I’m thrilled to be a part of.”

Whaley will join the most democratic event in women’s golf, with nearly half the field earning its way through sectional qualifying at 17 sites. Whaley was among those qualifiers, earning one of five spots available at The Olympic Club outside San Francisco.

Whaley will join some of the game’s all-time greats on one of America’s most important venues. The Chicago Golf Club is among the USGA’s five founding clubs.

Full-field tee times from the U.S. Senior Women’s Open

Amy Alcott, Pat Bradley, JoAnne Carner, Betsy King, Liselotte Neumann, Sandra Palmer, Hollis Stacy and Jan Stephenson are among 15 U.S. Women’s Open champions in the field. So are Juli Inkster and Laura Davies, active LPGA pros who are the favorites to win this week.

“I want to thank the USGA for stepping up to the plate and showing the women the respect they deserve,” said Stacy, a three-time U.S. Women’s Open champ. “It’s been a long time coming. We could have all been sitting at that bitter table of one, but we look at this as a new beginning for all of us. We’re all excited to play in Chicago at such a great golf course.”

Carner, 79, an LPGA and World Golf Hall of Famer with 43 LPGA titles, will join Stacy and Palmer Thursday in the first group off the first tee at 8 a.m. ET.

“It’s an inaugural event, so you have to wonder how it’s going to be, but it’s the real deal,” Davies said Wednesday. “I think the USGA has done the players proud, and, hopefully, now we will do them proud with our performance on the course.

“I know everyone keeps saying it’s a long time coming, but I’m just glad it’s here. I don’t care how long it’s taken.”

The U.S. Senior Open for men has been ongoing since 1980.

USGA leadership is on record saying they commissioned studies to determine if sufficient demand would sustain a senior women’s event, and they finally determined it did.

Inkster, whose five USGA titles include two U.S. Women’s Opens, noted that the window to play this event has passed for a lot of the game’s greats, that players like Kathy Whitworth didn’t get the chance. Count Nancy Lopez in that group this year. Recovery from a knee replacement surgery is preventing Lopez from playing this week. Still, Inkster is relishing the chance the USGA is giving her and everyone else this week.

“We do have a lot of the good ones here, Pat Bradley and JoAnne Carner, my idols, and Betsy King,” Inkster said. “These are the players I looked up to.

“We work hard on our games, just like the guys. We put a lot of time into golf, and to have the opportunity to win a USGA championship as a senior would be amazing.”

Whaley is the PGA/LPGA director of instruction for Suzy Whaley Golf in Farmington, Conn. She knows something about breaking barriers. Her move into the PGA president’s position in November will be another significant gain for women in golf.

Back in 2002, Whaley won the PGA Connecticut Section Championship, which earned her a spot in the ’03 Greater Hartford Open, making her the first woman in 58 years to compete in a PGA Tour event. In ’02, she also became the first female PGA member to compete in the PGA Professional Championship.

When Whaley was elected the PGA secretary at the association’s annual meeting four years ago, becoming the first female officer in PGA history, it put her on track to become its first president.

So Whaley’s place in the U.S. Senior Women’s Open brings her more than another chance to compete, which she loves. It gives her another platform to elevate a message important to her.

As PGA president, she’s a symbol of growing opportunities for women in golf.

“I’m thrilled for the fact that young women coming behind me (at the PGA) will be able see themselves in that role, and aspire to that role, if they choose to,” Whaley said. “It’s important to have mentors. It’s important to have supporters in front of you, as I’ve had, who encourage you.

“If I have the opportunity to do that for another woman, to inspire her and empower her to be a part of governance for the PGA of America, then I am thrilled to assume that role.”

And thrilled to be a part of history at Chicago Golf Club.

Getty Images

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.



Getty Images

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.”

Getty Images

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.

Getty Images

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.”