Cut Line: Stenson should be Comeback POY

By Rex HoggardSeptember 6, 2013, 7:44 pm

A rare “bye” week on the PGA Tour calendar demands we pause to recap the first two turns on the playoff schedule. And for those who prefer the long view, know that we are only a month away from the start of the 2013-14 season.

Made Cut

The Iceman cometh. Few tales in sport are as compelling as a bona fide comeback and Henrik Stenson’s rally in 2013 qualifies as one of the best in recent memory.

Within the two-year world golf ranking rolling window, the affable Swede had plummeted all the way to 222nd in the ranking and appeared truly adrift atop the professional golf trash heap.

Since July, he’s finished outside the top 3 in just one of his last half dozen starts. He won the Deutsche Bank Championship with a combination of ball-striking brilliance and clutch lag putting and moved to sixth in the world ranking, first on the FedEx Cup points list and continues to lead the European Tour’s Race for Dubai.

“I know there are still things that I can improve on,” he told “Cut Line” on Wednesday as he readied for a weekend of work with swing coach Pete Cowen.

The Tour hasn’t doled out the Comeback Player of the Year Award since 2010, but we’d like to humbly suggest the circuit avoid the holiday season shipping rush and send the hardware along to Stenson.

While they are at it, they may want to keep the FedEx Cup chalice close at hand as well. Perhaps they can secure a package deal from FedEx to save on shipping cost.

Captains courageous. Making a captain’s selection may be the most difficult and most profound move a skipper makes during an international team tilt.A pick may not win a cup for country and captain, but a couple of dogs can certainly go a long way to losing it. All of which makes U.S. captain Freddie Couples and International counterpart Nick Price’s picks on Wednesday truly inspired.

Price went with Marc Leishman and Brendon De Jonge, Nos. 12 and 14, respectively, on the points list. Both will be Presidents Cup rookies and have a combined one Tour victory between them. Yet both have proven themselves consistent performers and were probably the hottest hands going into the selection process, which Price said would be the deciding factor.

Couples went even further outside the box, if not with the consensus, with his selection of No. 11 Webb Simpson and No. 22 Jordan Spieth. With half the time to earn points, Spieth made a statement this season that was impossible for “Boom Boom” to ignore.

The common urge for captains is to travel the path of least resistance – which normally means Nos. 11 and 12 on the points list. Neither captain opted for the “safe” picks. Now, if only the biennial American boat race stays relevant until Sunday’s singles matches.

National exposure. There is an urgency to team golf that can’t be replicated in the week-to-week drudge that is the 72-hole stroke play calendar, and few of the game’s team outings can captivate like this week’s Walker Cup.

There is a parity to the amateur matches that seems to elude the one-sided contests that the Presidents Cup (United States) and Ryder Cup (Europe) have become, and for good measure this year’s Walker Cup will be played at the National Golf Links of America.

The Southhampton, N.Y., layout is considered by many America’s true architectural gem, and for most of us this may be as close as we get to the classic course.

So, enjoy.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

A lifeline, a letdown. Word Friday that the Tour had secured a new title sponsor (Valspar) for the Tampa-area stop was certainly good news for any frat brother who enjoys the Copperhead Course, but at the same time it was hard not to feel for the folks in Puerto Rico.

For months, the rumor was the Tour’s inability to land a long-term sponsor for the Tampa stop – Valspar is the sixth different sponsor in the last 11 years – would lead the circuit to upgrade the Puerto Rico stop, which has been played opposite the WGC-Cadillac Championship and has struggled to attract a marquee field.

“Obviously, we are very disappointed as over the past 18 months we were being considered and therefore we had been preparing for the opportunity to become an unencumbered event, which has always been our goal, in the event a date on the scheduled became available for 2014,” Puerto Rico Open tournament director Sidney Wolf said.

The Tour deserves credit for going the distance to save the Tampa stop. One would hope Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., works just as hard to find Wolf & Co. a standalone date.

Tweet of the week:

Nice sentiment from Donald, although it should be pointed out he won the event in 2012 and has never missed a cut at Innisbrook. #HorsesForCourses

Missed Cut

Two-way traffic. According to multiple members of the player advisory council, the Tour seems poised to tinker with the playoff points structure for the playoffs – again.

Seems some don’t like the amount of volatility that the current system has created and the idea is to reduce the number of available points from “five times” the amount offered for a regular-season event (500 for a victory) to a formula closer to 3 ½ or four times.

“The only thing on the points right now we are focused on is whether the amount of volatility because of the amount of points in the playoffs is a little too strong,” Tour commissioner Tim Finchem told Golf Channel last week. “We’ve been talking about this the last couple of years. We may, this fall, make a decision to not have quite as much volatility.”

When did two-way traffic become a bad thing? Monday’s action may have been a tad extreme for the likes of Ryan Palmer – who began the week 60th on the points list, missed the cut and slipped outside the top 70 to miss advancing to the BMW Championship – but it was about as compelling as math can be.

The playoffs have delivered the top players to four major markets after the PGA Championship, let’s leave the calculators and algorithms out of this. If it’s not broken, well ... you know.

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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.”