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Monday Scramble: Looking 'back' on the week

By Ryan LavnerOctober 16, 2017, 3:00 pm

Pat Perez cruises, Tiger Woods dons the Sunday red, Tyrrell Hatton stays hot, President Donald Trump goes low and more in this week’s edition of Monday Scramble:

If only the PGA Tour still gave out a Comeback Player of the Year award. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better candidate than Pat Perez.

A year ago, the often-combustible journeyman had turned 40, was coming off shoulder surgery and was ranked outside the top 300 in the world. He accepted a sponsor exemption into the CIMB Classic, and his career turned upside down (in a good way).

After his impressive victory in Malaysia, he now has twice as many Tour wins in the past 11 months as he did in his previous 15 years on Tour.

It’s a product of hard work, good health, and maybe even a little revenge, after one of his equipment companies dropped him.

For one of golf's most unique characters, it's been a unique path back to competitive relevance.


1. Perez is already well on his way to backing up one career year with another.

Check out all his career bests a year ago: Best FedExCup finish  (15th – his first time reaching the Tour Championship). Most money earned ($4.36 million). Most top-25s (14). And the fewest cuts missed (three).

And he seems intent to keep rolling.

“I’m not going to change anything,” he said. “I’m still not going to work out. I’ll still have a bad diet and I’m going to enjoy myself. I’ve got my group of friends and that type of stuff. But I’m just taking it a day at a time. That’s all I’m doing. I don’t look in the past. I’m just kind of doing it.” 

2. Speaking of career resurrections … Keegan Bradley is in the midst of one, too.

Once one of the most promising young players on Tour, Bradley is now 31 and trying to find himself without his trusty belly putter.

Last season he finally showed progress, recording five top-10s and making a run for the Tour Championship until a rocky stretch in the playoffs. After missing the cut in Napa, he played bogey-free on the weekend at the CIMB, going 65-67, to earn runner-up honors and $756,000.

“I played well enough to win,” Bradley said, “but Pat Perez is playing exceptionally. So happy for him.”



3. There was little rest for the reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year, who headed to the CIMB just three weeks after the Tour Championship.

Despite being admittedly “low on gas” at the end of a long, breakout year, Thomas turned in a tie for 17th.

It’ll be interesting to see whether Thomas keeps this event on his schedule moving forward. Clearly, after back-to-back wins, TPC Kuala Lumpur suits his game. But he also added the event during his sophomore season on Tour, when he was trying to get a head start in the FedExCup race. He just so happened to win in his tournament debut, and again the next year, which necessitated his appearance this year.

The situation is not unlike Jordan Spieth’s relationship with the John Deere Classic. He won the event at a young age, and rather than turn his back on the tournament that launched his star, he paid it forward. It's a move that should be applauded ... and yet it was only a matter of time before he began to skip the event, with the Deere played a week before The Open. It made for a long, unnecessarily hectic stretch.  

Thomas is one of the game’s few bona fide stars who tees it up in the fall. (He is also in this week's CJ Cup field.) Now that he’s in a new stratosphere, he could be excused for taking more downtime next year. 

4. While the rest of the sports world was watching the Red Zone Channel, Tiger Woods was working on his game.

For the first time, Woods posted a video of himself hitting a driver (in his Sunday red, no less!). Until as recently as the Presidents Cup, he said he hadn’t been cleared to hit anything more than 60-yard wedge shots.

Apparently, things have escalated quickly. 



5. When you’re hot, you’re hot …

Tyrrell Hatton kept rolling after last week’s win at the Dunhill Links, firing a back-nine 30 Sunday to steal the Italian Open.

His 65-65 weekend was enough to eke him past Ross Fisher – again! – and move all the way up to No. 5 in the season-long Race to Dubai standings. 

Over the past two weeks, Hatton has made 54 birdies and only seven bogeys, posted a scoring average of 65.9 and, most importantly, earned two titles and about $2 million.

6. Pour some out for Fisher.

Faced with another large final-round deficit, he is a combined 19 under par over his past two Sundays. Each time he finished second to Hatton. 

7. Matt Parziale will need to take some more time off from the firehouse after his dominant victory last week at the U.S. Mid-Amateur.

Parziale, a 30-year-old firefighter from Brockton, Mass., used 10 birdies in the scheduled 36-hole championship match to defeat Josh Nichols and earn the premier title for players 25 and older.

With the victory, Parziale will be exempt into next year’s U.S. Open (thanks to a new USGA rule announced two weeks ago) and likely receive an invitation to the Masters.

Parziale, a reinstated amateur who toiled on the mini-tours a few years ago, made eight birdies in the first 18 holes. Including the usual match-play concessions, his morning 7-under 63 was the best in the final since the USGA switched to a 36-hole format in 2001.

His 8-and-6 margin of victory was the third-largest in championship history.



8. At least one Ko is getting into the LPGA winner’s circle.

This time it was Jin Young Ko who won the LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship to earn her first LPGA Title.

Ko, a nine-time winner on the KLPGA, closed with 68 to hold off S.H. Park.

Golf’s most famous Ko, Lydia, is still looking for her first win since July 2016.

9. Searching for her third LPGA title of the year, Park was denied a chance to move to world No. 1.

“There are still many events left this season,” she said, “and I think that’s the type of goal you continue to work hard to reach. I’ll just give it my best shot.” 

From the Gonna-Have-to-See-It-to-Believe-It Files:

That would mean that Trump, who is 71, nearly shot his age.

That would mean that, from 6,800 yards, or roughly the same yardage as the seniors played their recent PGA Championship, he beat more than half of the field, which shot 74 or higher.

That would mean that, despite a 250-yard average off the tee, he made “only one or two” bogeys, even with this choppy chipping action.

Riiiiiight.

"I can say without hesitation," Graham bragged to Golf.com, "Donald Trump did not come close to making a double bogey all day," as if that was some sort of accomplishment for a guy who just shot 1 over.

Clearly this has nothing to do with Senator Graham trying to curry favor with the president by talking up his golf game ... 

This week's award winners ... 

Best Use of Social Media: European Tour. Sergio Garcia and Austin Connelly, reunited after 18 years.  


Missed Opportunity: College Gameday. ESPN’s iconic college football pregame show easily could have had both Jordan Spieth and Oklahoma star Brad Dalke on the set as the celebrity guest pickers – they represented their schools in the coin toss at the Red River Rivalry.  


More Than One Way to a T-69: Grayson Murray. The second-year player had a wild tournament in Malaysia, going 82-74-64-73. Alas, his throwing aim wasn't much better ... 

If the @yankees, @astrosbaseball, @cubs or @dodgers need another arm in the bullpen...

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Well, That’s a Tough Break: Ryan Fox. The New Zealander missed the cut at the Italian Open, which wasn’t a surprise after his unfortunate start to the week. Fox was docked a two-shot penalty in the opening round because it wasn’t “virtually certain” that a fan picked up his ball.  


Let’s Try That Again: Leona Maguire. Fresh off her ninth career college title, the Duke senior and world No. 1 is entered into this week’s second stage of LPGA Q-School. (The top 80 and ties advance.) She bailed before final stage last year to stay in school. 

Blown Fantasy Pick of the Week: Kevin Na. Heading into the week with a 68.08 scoring average at TPC Kuala Lumpur, he followed an opening 66 with rounds of 73-75 to balloon to a tie for 44th. Sigh. 

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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.”