Woods running out of gas at FedEx Cup finale

By Rex HoggardSeptember 20, 2013, 9:09 pm

ATLANTA – We’ve said this before, but it seems particularly apropos considering the ebb and flow of Tiger Woods’ Friday edition at East Lake – the guy in the red shirt is an old 37.

Maybe not since the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines has that truth been so evident.

On Friday following a 1-over 71 that should have been a 65, a day removed from a 73 that should have been a 68, Woods looked tired. He looked like a man whose body has endured 37 hard years on the golf course and in the gym, a man who – although widely billed as the fittest athlete in the game – was running on fumes, both mentally and physically.


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Full disclosure: Every player on the PGA Tour is dealing with some sort of ailment and a tank that is dangerously close to empty as the season winds down at the Tour Championship. Woods acknowledged as much.

“Everyone out here has got some knick-knack injuries, and guys are taped up and banged up a little bit,” he said. “So we're all looking forward to (next week’s break).”

Even Henrik Stenson, who appears to be closing on the $11.4 million payday this week, said on Thursday that fatigue was a factor in his Monday meltdown at the BMW Championship, where he tied for 33rd and proceeded to destroy a driver and a locker.

“It comes down to being tired. I played so much golf. I played so well, and I just haven't been able to get any rest,” the Swede said following his opening 64. “That's not the best place to be and not the best frame of mind to play good golf.”

With Woods, however, it just seems a tad more relevant. Whether it was his dramatic drop to his knees with back pain at The Barclays, or Friday’s mental lapses at the Tour Championship, exhaustion, in mind and body, seems to have become an occupational hazard for the world No. 1 in 2013.

The result on a warm and breezy Friday in Atlanta was an early surge that lifted Woods to 5 under through 13 holes, and into the top 10 just two strokes out of second place, to a 6-over-par run through the closing five that left him tied for last when he signed his card.

“I put everything I had into that start and didn't have much at the end. Just ran out of gas,” he said.

Mental exhaustion likely led to a double-bogey 6 at the 14th hole. A pulled drive, a gambling second shot that failed, a poor third followed by a bunker shot to 13 feet that may, when all is said and done on Sunday, have cost him a chance at the FedEx Cup and perhaps his 11th Player of the Year Award.

Physical fatigue was the catalyst for an even more unsightly triple-bogey 7 at the 17th hole after he pulled his drive into the lake left of the fairway and needed four more shots to reach the putting surface.

“My legs were just tired. I didn't rotate through the ball, and I turned it over,” he said.

This is Woods’ 16th event of 2013, which is hardly above average, but his sixth start in seven events. As a rule, he hasn’t played more than two or three weeks in a row during his Hall of Fame career. In fact, since the FedEx Cup era began in 2007, this marks just the second time he’s played all four playoff events.

Marathon runs just aren’t in his DNA, although he conceded there is little he can do to change the late-season rush of so-called must-play events. And things aren’t going to get any easier the next few years.

“It is what it is,” he said. “We play a lot of golf from the British Open on. It helps that some of the years where I have gotten worn out is when I've been in contention a lot, four rounds being in contention. Unfortunately, I've only had a couple of tournaments there where I've been right in the hunt, at Barclays and ended up winning it at Firestone (WGC-Bridgestone Invitational).”

Because of an agreement between the PGA Tour and PGA of America, there will be no “bye” week during next year’s playoff, with the off week coming after the Tour Championship and before the Ryder Cup in Scotland. And in 2016, the Olympics promise to upend the schedule even more as the majors shift to make room for the Rio Games.

It has always been injury – be it knee, Achilles’, back or other – that many felt would keep Woods from catching Jack Nicklaus in his pursuit of the Golden Bear’s mark of 18 majors, but through 36 holes at East Lake it is starting to look like it may be decreasing energy levels that stall his march to the Grand Slam summit.

Following his Friday round, one scribe even asked if Woods would consider a Steve Stricker-like schedule in the future.

“I normally do,” Woods smiled.

Others have found their competitive second winds in their 40s and there is no reason to think Woods is entering the twilight of his career. But the story, at least on Friday, was etched into his face.

“I'm tired,” Woods allowed. “It's been just a long, long grind.”

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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.”