Cut Line: Nicklaus impressed by McIlroy's letter

By Rex HoggardMay 15, 2015, 10:32 pm

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Winning this year’s U.S. Open will likely take an Olympic effort, both before and during the championship; while at least one player challenges golf’s efforts to become an Olympic sport again.

Made Cut

Rory’s “Dear Jack” moment. It’s tough to impress Jack Nicklaus either on or off the golf course, but Rory McIlroy has become adept on both fronts.

McIlroy, who is in the middle of a five-event stretch this week at the Wells Fargo Championship (where he is just three shots off the lead after 36 holes), had to alter his schedule this year to make room for the Irish Open, which he will be hosting in two weeks. As a result he chose to skip the Memorial for the first time since joining the Tour in 2010

In signature Rory style, the world No. 1 penned a letter to Memorial host Nicklaus explaining why he was skipping the Ohio stop. The two recently crossed paths in south Florida at The Bear’s Club.

“The first thing he said to me was that he’d received my letter and I said to him I wanted to write rather than phone or just advise the Tour,” McIlroy said. “He seemed pretty taken back to get my letter and that made me feel good.”

Consider it reason No. 658 to marvel at how well the 26-year-old wears fame.

Tweet of the week

@IanJamesPoulter (Ian Poulter): “Totally overrated finish from [Rickie Fowler]. Nice playing mate. Impressive.”

Poulter was referring to Fowler’s victory at The Players on Sunday after the two were voted the game’s most overrated players in a recent Golf.com player poll.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Olympic observations. Other top players likely have similar opinions, but give Adam Scott credit for having the conviction to publicly state the obvious.

While golf’s return to the Olympics in 2016 has the potential to expand interest in the game in largely untapped markets, at the highest levels a gold medal is always going to rank well behind a major championship in the sphere of influence.

“Whether I win an Olympic medal or not is not going to define my career or change whether I’ve fulfilled my career,” Scott told Reuters this week. “It’s nothing I’ve ever aspired to do and I don’t think I ever will. It’s all about the four majors and I think that’s the way it should stay for golf.”

Put another way, a gold medal would be nice but Scott is not trading it for another green jacket.

Mechanic-al problems. Miguel Angel Jimenez took to the microphone this week at the Spanish Open to address his run-in with Keegan Bradley at last month’s WGC-Match Play.

Bradley and Jimenez had a heated confrontation over a drop on Day 3 at Harding Park that spilled into the locker room after the Spaniard had won the match.

“He tell me in my face, ‘You never tell my caddie to shut up.’ Of course, I don't have to tell that, you have to tell that," Jimenez said. “I think that we need to have respect to everyone. If I go there and demand that information, just give me the information. Simple. If you don't want to give me it, then let the referee give me it. My thing is we need to be honest with each other, and be professional as we are. It's not about a rule anymore. It's about the attitude.”

What “The Mechanic” seemed to gloss over in his answer is that he did tell Bradley’s caddie, Steve “Pepsi” Hale, to shut up. Everyone involved in the incident likely could have handled the situation better, including Jimenez.


Missed Cut

Lemonade from lemons. Give Wells Fargo Championship executive director Kym Hougham credit for making the most of the tournament’s spot on this year’s schedule, but it wasn’t easy.

A late commitment from McIlroy, as well as Phil Mickelson’s presence, helped boost a field that took a hit when the Tour repositioned, at least temporarily, the Charlotte-area stop on the schedule a week after The Players and just before the BMW PGA Championship, the European Tour’s flagship event.

Next year things should be easier for Hougham and Co. when the event moves back to the week just prior to The Players, but given the domino effect on next year’s schedule because of the Olympics and the move of the WGC-Match Play to just before the Masters it will likely continue to be a “bear market” for the likes of Hougham in the foreseeable future.

Open discussion. With already busy schedules and extended travel being the ultimate arbiter, it was no surprise that USGA executive director Mike Davis caused a few double takes last month when he was asked about Chambers Bay, the puzzle that is this year’s U.S. Open venue.

“The idea of coming in and playing two practice rounds and having your caddie just walk it and using your yardage book, that person’s done,” Davis said of Chambers Bay. “Will not win the U.S. Open.”

Yet while some players have balked at the idea that this Open will require an elevated level of due diligence, there does seem to be a begrudging acceptance of the fact that Chambers Bay is an exam that must be prepared for.

McIlroy said this week he plans to arrive at the new venue the weekend before the championship (June 13-14), and Adam Scott will make a scouting trip to the Pacific Northwest on the Monday after the Memorial Tournament.

“From all reports it looks like something quite unique and even hearing Mike Davis' comments of a person without good knowledge of the course won't have a chance there just shows me that certainly you're going to have to get a few rounds in and hopefully a few different conditions to be able to play,” Scott said.

The frat brothers may not like the required extra effort, but an Open is no place to skimp on preparation.

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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.”