BMW finale could be a lot like epic Palmer U.S. Open

By Randall MellSeptember 7, 2014, 12:05 am

CHERRY HILLS VILLAGE, Colo. – Who is ready to channel their inner Arnie?

Billy Horschel takes a three-shot lead into the final round of the BMW Championship, but this is Cherry Hills. This is where Arnold Palmer famously drove the first green coming from seven shots back in the final round to win the 1960 U.S. Open. This mile-high venue is still so suited to epic charges.

That’s the hope this course offers for players back in the pack looking to win or crack the top 30 in FedEx Cup points to get to the Tour Championship and the final leg of these playoffs.

A week after watching his chance to win the Deutsche Bank Championship disappear into a hazard with his final approach, the resilient Horschel is back in position to try again. He blitzed the field Saturday, posting a 7-under-par 63. That would have been a course record had Morgann Hoffmann not posted a 62 an hour or so before him.

This high-altitude venue carries enough risk and reward to make Sunday unpredictable, with soaring and crashing both possible.

While Horschel was going low, second-round leader Sergio Garcia was struggling to a 72.

World No. 1 Rory McIlroy started Saturday in third place but also struggled to a 72 and fell nine shots off the lead. McIlroy batted around a four-putt at the 12th hole. He played out of a hazard at the 15th. It was just his second round over par in his last 23 rounds.

“This is obviously a really challenging golf course, even with it playing a little bit softer than it did Thursday,” Horschel said. “So you’ve got to be smart out there. You can easily make bogeys if you get out of position.”

This week began with Cherry Hills daring pros to go for it.

It began with club officials laying a persimmon wood and balata ball out on the first tee in a practice round so the pros could try to duplicate Arnie’s feat driving the first green.

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There will be no protecting a lead on Sunday, not with good ball striking bountifully rewarded here.

Horschel’s ball striking Saturday was brilliant, and his resurgent putter continues to deliver. He birdied four of the final five holes. He hit 16 greens in regulation. He rammed home a 30-foot birdie at the last and leads the field in strokes gained putting.

“You’ve got to take your hat off to Billy,” said Ryan Palmer, whose 67 left him as Horschel’s closest pursuer, three shots back. “That was awesome. I’m just proud of the way I fought and hung in there.”

Palmer is playing with some good momentum. He tied for fifth at the PGA Championship and is getting himself on to leaderboards regularly.

Horschel likes his own momentum.

“I’m a momentum player,” Horschel said. “If you look back at last year, when I got on a roll, I kept it going for a long time.”

Even last week’s failure isn’t slowing Horschel. He needed birdie at the last to force a playoff at the Deutsche Bank Championship and hit an awful approach, chunking an iron fat and into the brush and water.

Horschel was asked how he processed that disappointment to get himself right back in the hunt this week.

“I didn't process anything,” Horschel said. “It was a bad swing at the wrong time. I'm a guy who doesn't dwell on a lot of stuff. I sort of let things roll off my shoulders.

“I’ve got some really thick skin, so nothing really bothers me too much. And listen, I'm a better player than what I showed with that golf shot. I wasn't nervous over it. I was telling my caddie, when I saw [Chris] Kirk miss the putt, I said `I'm going to hit this on the green, and I'm going to make eagle, and we're going to win this tournament.’ And that's just the way I think. There's nothing that I should be down about.”

Horschel, 27, broke through to win the Zurich Classic a year ago, but he hasn’t followed up on that victory the way he would have liked this season. His victory was among his eight top-10 finishes a year ago. He has three top 10s this year.

If Horschel has anything going for him, it’s his bold belief in himself. That’s the inner Arnie he will be looking to channel on Sunday.

“I've learned enough in the last year and a half to deal with what's going to come tomorrow,” Horschel said. “I'm not going to change anything I've done the last two weeks. I'm just going to go out there, be focused. I'm going to do my thing and not let anything affect me. And have fun.”

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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.”

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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.”