Presidents Cup still lacks parity

By Rex HoggardOctober 6, 2013, 12:20 am

DUBLIN, Ohio – For an event that has spent the better part of two decades searching for relevance in a dysfunctional comparison to the Ryder Cup, Saturday at the Lift, Clean & Place Cup delivered a measure of similarity between the biennial brothers.

First came the weather. And then more weather. Weather like players endured at the Ryder Cup in Wales in 2010 and The K Club in 2006. Weather that has kept players in shelter, three delays totaling more than eight hours, almost as much as they’ve been on muddy Muirfield Village. Weather that will stretch Saturday’s foursome session into Sunday morning and Sunday’s singles bout into ... well, that’s to be determined.

“Don’t suppose they ever have droughts in Columbus,” one International caddie shrugged during a drenching downpour on Saturday.

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It has rained so much the last two days, assistant captain Davis Love III’s decision to release “Sammy” the squirrel back into the wild on Friday seemed cruel.

Then came the contentiousness. Just as Adam Scott was setting out in a steady rain late Saturday with this week’s darling Hideki Matsuyama by his side a fan yelled, “Tiger’s better.” And as Angel Cabrera attempted to putt during his foursomes match late Friday another wayward sod got even nastier.

Luckily, Cabrera was immune to the hack and his heckles. “No entiendo Ingles,” the big man smiled.

The only thing missing was competitive parity. Well that, and Ian Poulter, but it doesn’t seem as if those two are mutually exclusive.

The Americans pulled away in the deluge that was the final four-ball session, taking four of five games to grab a 10 ½ to 6 ½ advantage and turn the Internationals' mood as gloomy as this week’s forecast.

When darkness and a damp course finally ended Saturday’s action, some 11 ½ hours after the day had begun, the good news for Nick Price’s crew was that they were leading in two of the remaining four foursome matches (Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner had already shut out Richard Sterne and Marc Leishman, 4 and 3, to extend the American point total to 11 ½). The bad news – the Internationals haven’t won a foursomes session since Day 1 in 2003.

“Obviously, this morning was a little disappointing,” International captain Price said. “We lost some ground and then this afternoon we got off to a great start, think we were up in all five matches, and then the U.S. started making some putts. Honestly, I don’t know how these guys are still on their feet.”

Another halved session, like the Rest of the World eked out in Friday’s delayed foursome bout, isn’t going to be enough. Not with the Americans just six points shy of an outright victory and 12 singles matches looming.

If the Presidents Cup is in search of Ryder Cup-like parity, may we humbly suggest the powers that be play it like the Ryder Cup with just four team matches per session.

Otherwise the identity crisis seems certain to continue. Otherwise the Internationals' only hope is that America’s aging heroes will succumb to the marathon that these matches have become.

On a soggy and exhausting Saturday, consider that 46-year-old semi-pensioner Steve Stricker played 31 holes, while Tiger Woods, the 37-year-old core of the U.S. team who just two weeks ago at the Tour Championship talked of being tired after a long season, also went 31 holes on Day 3.

Luckily Phil Mickelson, the 43-year-old who suggested at East Lake he would consider cutting his schedule by 25 percent in future seasons to conserve his energy and took himself out of a team frame at last year’s Ryder Cup, didn’t have to finish his second round early Saturday and needed only 17 holes to close out Ernie Els and Brendon De Jonge in the third session. Still, Lefty went 30 in the monsoon and the grind was starting to show on all three veterans' faces, if not their games.

“Phil tells me when he wants to go and he’s going to go first. He’s ready to play five matches,” U.S. captain Fred Couples said. “I looked at (Mickelson) and Tiger and said, ‘Look, you know, just tell me what you’d like to do?’ And both of them said, ‘Oh, there’s no question, we are playing every match.’

“Tiger is honestly beat up. Phil is very energetic, and it shows.”

If Price & Co. can’t outplay the Americans, maybe they can wear them down. It’s not a bad plan, not for a team that hasn’t won since 1998 and is mired in a 1-7-1 slide. Not when Sunday’s forecast is even worse than Saturday’s.

Another storm is scheduled to arrive overnight and then again in the early afternoon on Sunday, which prompted officials to restart Round 4 at 7:35 a.m. ET and send the singles out starting at 9:10 a.m.

“It’s not over,” Price declared, sounding a lot like Ben Crenshaw circa 1999. “We still have a lot of golf to play.”

Maybe the Internationals have a Medinah-like rally in them. Maybe the weather will conspire against the weary Americans and turn this apparent rout into a road race. Or is it an off-road race?

Until that happens, however, the comparisons between the Presidents and Ryder cups begin and end at over-served fans and an overstimulated weather radar.

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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.”