McGirt follows Nicklaus formula for success

By Ryan Reiterman June 6, 2016, 12:09 am

DUBLIN, Ohio - For three straight days, conditions at the Memorial Tournament were soft and low scores were plentiful.

Sunday was a whole different story.

The threat of storms brought plenty of high wind and the scores followed. What looked to be a shootout turned into a struggle for survival on the back nine with several big names succumbing to the carnage.

That was just fine with eventual champion William McGirt, who won for the first time in 165 starts. After handing him the trophy, tournament host Jack Nicklaus told McGirt he won plenty of tournaments with the same formula.

“The golf course gave up birdie after birdie after birdie, and then all of a sudden, a little teeth got into it coming down near the end, and you just stayed dead steady right on track and kept on going,” Nicklaus said to McGirt. “That's what it takes to win golf tournaments. I've won - I don't know how many tournaments - I won half of my golf tournaments watching everyone else self-destruct. I didn't win them. They just self-destructed, and that's the way you win.”

McGirt made 15 straight pars to close out his first win, none bigger than the 9-footer he made to beat Jon Curran on the second playoff hole.

“Luckily, the wind kept it from being a shootout at the end, and pars were good enough coming down the stretch,” McGirt said.

Not bad preparation for his first U.S. Open in two weeks.

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With his victory on Sunday, McGirt is now exempt for Oakmont and avoids a 36-hole qualifier on Monday. He also receives a three-year exemption and a check for $1.53 million. His last professional win - in 2007 - was for $16,000.

“I thought I'd hit it big,” said McGirt on his mini-tour win.

His second win was much tougher. McGirt grinded out a victory on a day when 29 players started the final round within five shots of the lead. But with wind gusts anywhere from 15-25 mph, the bogeys - and others - started piling up.

Phil Mickelson began the second nine with two straight bogeys, and then his chances ended when his ball came up short of the green and rolled into the water on the 186-yard, par-3 12th.

In the next group, K.J. Choi made a quadruple-bogey 7 on his way to a 78.

World No. 1 Jason Day nearly put two balls in the water before recording a double bogey.

Dustin Johnson found the green, and then three-putted from 54 feet.

Matt Kuchar bogeyed 12, doubled 13, bogeyed 15 and just like that his chances for a second Memorial title were gone.

“There's no room to like bail out there,” said Curran, who made a bogey on 12. “You have to hit a good shot, and it was blowing 10 or 15 [mph] in and off the left. It was 185 yards, so that's a tough setup.”

The tee at No. 12 is elevated, so tee shots were ballooning in the wind. Players who kept their tee shots low risked hitting too much club and sailing over the skinny green.

It’s no surprise the eventual winner stepped up and hit one of the best shots of the day at 12. McGirt took the most aggressive line of anyone in the last seven groups, and his tee shot landed 21 feet away. Not a dart by any means, but it was one big hurdle to jump in his quest to change his fortunes after 12 years as a professional.

“There were times on that tee box it could have been anything from 4-iron to 7-iron depending on the wind gust, and I got over it and just said, ‘OK, please let it go the right distance,’” McGirt said.

His prayers were answered, and now the 36-year-old will get to savor his maiden win before teeing it up at the U.S. Open.

“I wondered for years if I would ever get to the PGA Tour, and then once you get out here, OK, you've played 160 events. Are you ever going to win? You've put yourself in position a couple of times,” McGirt said. “But I think you have to get your nose bloodied some to learn how to handle it, and I definitely had my nose bloodied a few times.”

It will be McGirt’s second start in a major. At his first major, the 2012 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island, McGirt received a piece of advice that helped him win on Sunday.

McGirt was chatting with Tiger Woods’ caddie, Joe LaCava, and the 14-time major champion overheard McGirt saying he doesn’t look at leaderboards on the back nine.

Woods came over and joked McGirt was an “idiot” for not knowing where he stood.

He didn’t make the same mistake at the Memorial.

“After the discussion we've had at Kiawah, I've looked every chance I have,” McGirt said.

He prevailed after a long, tough final round at Muirfield Village, and now McGirt’s name is alone at the top.

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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.”