Attitude of Gratitude

By Rex HoggardFebruary 4, 2009, 5:00 pm
SAN DIEGO ' It was the live version of the five-minute digital pep talk PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem sent out during golfs short, sleepy off-season. CBS Sports Lance Barrow spoke for about an hour and a tent filled nearly to capacity listened.
 
Tuesdays mandatory players meeting at Torrey Pines covered familiar ground ' the economy, sponsors and the media ' but it put an end to the notion that some players still dont get it. The Tour may be prepared to weather the current economic slide and flush circuit coffers may help ease all that financial anxiety, but it doesnt take a Wall Street type to read the economic tea leaves. Car manufacturers and financial institutions are the backbone of the Tours business model, the same institutions that have been hit so hard by the current downturn.
 
The Cliffs Notes version of Tuesdays meeting were these: forget the long-term contracts with television and many sponsors. Consider 2009 a contract year which means that these guys are not only good, as the Tour tag line says, but they are good corporate partners.
 
(Finchem) just doesnt want us to do anything stupid, said one player. Go the extra yard, make sure the sponsors feel appreciated. Make sure the fans have a good time.
 
Serious times. Serious messages.
 
Barrow may have been the keynote speaker, but Finchem could have plucked Ted Purdy out of the crowd had he wanted a ready-made Exhibit A.
 
Purdy is a notorious nice guy, as approachable and engaging as any on Tour, but he went off the extra mile charts at last weeks FBR Open. Purdy regained full status this year via Q-School, but he was ranked low in that category and needed a sponsor exemption to play his hometown event. Prior to the tournament, Purdy had the FBR logo put on his shirt, not as a condition of the exemption but as a simple thank you.
 
Purdy began the practice last year. For $20 to his local seamstress he showed the folks at the Wachovia Championship and Sony and FBR opens that the insular athlete cloak doesnt fit every make and model
 
Its easy to do, Purdy smiled in his signature sheepish way. Being grateful is always important.
 
If Tuesdays meeting needed a face, welcome Purdys expressive mug.
 
Perhaps the Tours wagon circling seems a bit preemptive given the overall state of the Tour. Most sponsors are signed to multiple year deals. Yet, without the aid of a financial looking glass, the timetable for recovery is unknown. To Finchem, that financial uncertainty means he and his players must start selling the Tour product now.
 
At the grass roots level, that means more engagement during sponsor events, towards the media and during pro-ams.
 
The way the economy is going, that reflects on the Tour, Pat Perez said. I love pro-ams. These guys have paid a lot of money to play, they want to have a good time, they want to leave and tell everyone they had a great day. Thats our job.
 
A component of Finchems off-season video was to ask players to consider playing events they historically have not, a concept that has rekindled the one-in-four debate. There has been little traction for the potential rule, which would require players play every event at least once every four years, but drastic times require drastic measures.
 
I would support a one-in-four rule, said Purdy, a member of the Tours 15-member Players Advisory Council. We need Tiger and we need Phil and the big names. The sponsors need them, because they are putting up the big bucks. It would be great for the Tour. Any sponsor who is entering into a three or four year deal with the Tour, he knows hes going to get Tiger at least once. It would help negotiations in the future.
 
The concept, however, has not been embraced by the Tours top players and some who cling to the circuits independent contractor ways. Truth is it is hard to criticize Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson for not playing more considering how successful they have been with their current schedule.
 
I think there are things we can do to show appreciation to our sponsors and really our partners, Mickelson said. I dont know how (the one-in-four rule) would really affect anything. Pretty much everyone on Tour plays 18 to 20. Even Tiger averages over 18 events a year.
 
To saddle Woods and Mickelson with the financial well-being of the entire Tour is misplaced and whiffs of micro-management. Its not fair to make it all about Tiger because hes earned his status, Purdy concedes.
 
Perhaps, but Woods is the engine that drives the Buick, to use a timely metaphor. Asking Woods to add a Turning Stone or Zurich to his schedule is not the answer. But its not too much to ask any card-carrying member to spend some extra time with sponsors or a pro-am partner.
 
Golf, be the market bear or bullish, should be an easier sell than say the NBA or MLB. The Tours athletes are more accessible, the image much more corporate friendly and its commitment to charities unique among all professional products. The task for those on the front line is to hammer that point, now more so than ever.
 
You need an attitude of gratitude. Its the way to live life, Purdy said.
 
Barrow couldnt have said it any better.
 

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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.”