Fresh-after-victory quotes often ill-considered

By Rex HoggardMarch 12, 2014, 8:15 pm

PALM HARBOR, Fla. – You never intend to play the role of devil’s advocate, but in the case of Patrick Reed the convergence of circumstance and celebrity make fence-sitting uncomfortable at best and disingenuous at worst.

In the hurried moments following his victory on Sunday at the WGC-Cadillac Championship, Reed, like any athlete fresh from the throes of victory, was asked to react to the seminal moment.

“I’ve worked so hard. I’ve won a lot in my junior career, did great things in my amateur career, was 6-0 in match play at NCAAs, won NCAAs two years in a row, was third individually one year. Now I have three wins out here on the PGA Tour,” he said.

“I just don’t see a lot of guys that have done that, besides Tiger Woods, of course, and all of the other legends of the game. It’s just one of those things that I believe in myself – especially after how hard I’ve worked – that I’m one of the top five players in the world. To come out of a field like this and to hold on wire to wire like that, I feel like I’ve proven myself.”


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Predictably, Reed’s comments didn’t sit well in either the social sphere, where he was widely criticized for being so bold, or the practice tee, which is the ultimate benchmark of acceptable behavior among Tour types.

From the moment your scribe arrived for this week’s Valspar Championship the Innisbrook range was abuzz over Reed’s comments.

In short form, there’s nothing wrong with thinking you’re a top-five player – in fact, for a professional golfer it is probably an occupational hazard if you don’t – but verbalizing those thoughts to the world is probably not the best move, particularly for a player who has never teed off in a major championship.

There’s nothing wrong with Reed’s confidence that a healthy dose of humility can’t fix and as many players explained this week at Innisbrook there will come a time when the game will humble you. It always does.

“You have to have a tremendous amount of confidence to play out here, but look, he’s a kid. He’s a kid and he’s excited and he’s playing well. When he looks back at his career, and he will probably have a great career, but he’ll probably laugh at himself,” Erik Compton said. “Everybody knows you’re great, it doesn’t matter if you’re a top-five or a top-six player. When I was a kid I said some stupid things.”

This isn’t about Reed’s Tour frat brothers judging his actions, and to a man they all marveled at his play that has now run to three victories in his last 14 starts, so much as it is socially acceptable norms.

In golf respect is earned, not demanded. It’s a lesson the 23-year-old will learn. Of course, that is assuming he has any interest in such conventions.

“There’s a certain amount of confidence that has to go with golf always, but this game is also founded on a lot of humility as well,” said Brian Harman, who was briefly a teammate of Reed’s at the University of Georgia. “The great ones are always very humble and very thankful. He’s certainly very impressive.”

But this is where things get tricky and the role of devil’s advocate requires a bit more of a long view. In the heat of the moment, when a winning putter is instantly replaced by a microphone, athletes can find themselves quickly coloring outside the lines.

Consider Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman’s reaction following the Seahawks’ victory in last season’s NFC Championship Game, a postgame tirade during which he declared himself the best cornerback in the game.

Or even caddie Steve Williams’ reaction following his man Adam Scott’s victory at the 2011 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational when the longtime looper said in the moments after the triumph, “I have been caddying for more than 30 years now. I have won 145 times and that is the best win of my life.”

Some three years later, Williams regrets those comments.

“Firstly, when you’re a caddie that never happens,” Steve Williams told Australia’s Fox Sports this week. “Of course, I was unbelievably excited. I'd been through a pretty emotional period, and a pretty rough period the preceding 12 or so months with the fallout from Tiger (Woods). I never expected someone to put a microphone in your face when you walk off the 18th green as a caddie. That’s never, ever happened before, and obviously I was pretty emotional at the time.

“Some things you regret,” Williams said. “That would be one of them.”

While this is by no means an apples-to-apples comparison between Reed and Williams and Sherman, but the basic premise remains the same - when emotions are running the highest we shouldn’t always expect the status quo.

Perhaps Reed has already experienced misgivings. In a Golf Channel interview on Monday he seemed to suggest as much. Perhaps he will come to understand the only thing wrong with considering yourself among the game’s greats is verbalizing it. But the one certainty is we shouldn’t be surprised when our athletes become caught up in the heat of the moment.

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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.”