Cut Line: Honda healthy, but not McIlroy

By Rex HoggardMarch 1, 2013, 6:28 pm

It’s Friday and players at this week’s PGA Tour stop haven’t been snowed on, which means we must have started the Florida swing. In honor of the circuit’s shift to the Sunshine State we shed some light on anchoring, an extreme makeover at the Honda Classic and Rory McIlroy’s missing “A” game.

Made Cut

Most improved. Judging PGA Tour events is always an inexact science. Some tournaments consider longevity the sign of success, while others use charitable contributions as the ultimate litmus test.

Depth of field, however, is the most realistic benchmark, which makes this week’s Honda Classic the Tour’s leading candidate for most-improved stop over the last decade.

Consider that before the event moved to PGA National and became associated with Jack Nicklaus and his South Florida charities, the 2006 and ’05 winners received 22 and 25 world ranking points, respectively. Since then the winners have averaged 49.6 points.

The world ranking math may not be perfect, but when it comes to the perfect storm in South Florida they seem to have it right.

Charles is in charge. Well, sort of.

Charles Howell III’s quest to play The Masters, a hometown event for the Augusta, Ga., native, has been gaining momentum since he began the season with three consecutive top-10 finishes, including a playoff loss at the Humana Challenge and a first-round victory over Tiger Woods at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.

His steady climb has moved him from 119th to start the season to 64th in the world golf ranking. The top 50 in the world through the Shell Houston Open on March 31 earn invitations to the Masters and Howell could help his cause by maintaining his spot on the FedEx Cup points list (he is currently eighth) and earning a spot at next week’s no-cut WGC-Cadillac Championship.

“I know if I want to play in the Masters, I've got to play really good golf coming ahead,” Howell said. “Getting in next week would be a nice step to that, but it will still take a lot of good golf.”

Some rides down Magnolia Lane are tougher than others.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

A time to talk. Maybe you didn’t like the message, and the timing was certainly suspect, but Tour commissioner Tim Finchem’s very public push back on Sunday toward the proposed ban on anchoring was very much pardonable politics.

If a press conference halfway through the championship match at one of the Tour’s marquee events doesn’t exactly qualify as “good timing,” consider the commish’s quandary.

If the player advisory council’s vote last week was any indication, the vast majority of Tour types oppose the ban. Whatever the majority’s motivation – self-preservation, growth of the game concerns, territorial gamesmanship with the U.S. Golf Association and Royal & Ancient Golf Club – it is Finchem’s job to be the voice of the Tour on this issue, which reached the end of its 90-day comment period on Thursday.

The USGA and R&A asked for comments and probably got more than they bargained for, but that’s neither Finchem nor the Tour’s fault.

Tweet of the week: @BubbaWatson “I am with @USGA. Anchoring loses essence of a golf swing. #MaybeIShouldTryAnchoringCauseICan’tPutt

Missed Cut

Imperfect Poults. OK, second sucks – and third. We get it, but Ian Poulter seemed to press the wrong buttons last week on Twitter following his loss to Jason Day in Sunday’s consolation match at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.

“I would love to have won this afternoon but (third or fourth place) just isn’t the same as playing for a title. When you’re playing over 100 holes in five days,” Poulter tweeted followed by another missive, “I will be honest that 3-4 place match is the least interesting match of the week. No need to play it. Players should be tied for third.”

For the record, there are $115,000 (the prize money) and 60 (FedEx Cup points) differences between third and fourth place at the WGC. It should also be noted that Day didn’t seem to have a problem with Sunday’s undercard.

The WGC’s consolation match certainly lacks the punch found in the finals, but isn’t there something to be said for competitive integrity? Last I checked they still play the NIT.

Missing McIlroy. Four and a half rounds into a season doesn’t exactly feel like the time for in-depth self-examination, yet as world No. 1 Rory McIlroy bolted PGA National on Friday he appeared in search of answers, for his wayward play and battered psyche as well as an aching tooth.

McIlroy told reporters he was “not in a good place mentally” when he walked off the golf course after eight holes at 7 over par for the day. He later released a statement that said he was struggling to concentrate because of a sore wisdom tooth.

However, many longtime observers say McIlroy’s pedestrian play – he now has a missed cut (Abu Dhabi), Day 1 loss (WGC-Match Play) and a withdrawal (Honda Classic) to start 2013 – is the byproduct of his wholesale switch to Nike Golf this offseason.

“Changing balls and clubs at the same time is the death knell. Can’t be done,” said one player manager.

McIlroy has earned the benefit of the doubt. If a good dentist is what the Ulsterman needs to right the ship, let Cut Line make a few recommendations. We’re just not sure the answers he seeks can be found in the dentist’s chair.

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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.”