Kite Among Senior PGA Leaders

By Sports NetworkJune 6, 2002, 4:00 pm
Senior PGA Championship logoAKRON, Ohio -- Tom Kite carded a 2-under-par 68 to grab a share of the lead after Thursday's opening round of the 63rd Senior PGA Championship. Kite was joined atop the leaderboard by Ted Goin and Mike Smith.
Defending champion Tom Watson was one shot off the pace at 1-under-par 69. He finished alongside 2002 Tradition champion Jim Thorpe, Wayne Levi and Fuzzy Zoeller.
Rains drenched the long South course at Firestone Country Club as the second major of the Senior Tour season got under way.
'It is very, very wet,' said Kite, who is seeking his second major victory on the Senior Tour.
Kite got off to a quick start at the par-5 second after he knocked his 5-wood within 40 feet of the cup to get on the green in two. The 52-year-old two-putted for birdie to get into the red.
At the sixth, Kite hit a 9-iron six feet from the hole and birdied to reach 2-under. However, it was Morris Hatalsky who took the early lead.
Hatalsky played the back side first and opened with a birdie at the 12th. He reached 3-under with back-to-back birdies from the 14th to briefly hold the lead before running into trouble with a bogey at No. 16. Hatalsky's problems continued as he collected four more bogeys for a round of 2-over 72.
Kite found misfortune at the seventh after he pulled a 5-iron into the left bunker and failed to get up and down. He recovered on the inward nine and landed a pitching wedge inside 18 feet of the hole for birdie at the 14th as he closed out his round at minus 2.
'Everybody has their opinion as for how difficult the golf course is,' said Kite, who has won twice already in 2002. 'This is a major championship, last I checked, and major championships are supposed to be more difficult than your normal event.'
Goin grabbed a share of the lead late in his round. At the closing hole, he hit his approach within eight feet to set up the last of a stretch of three straight birdies to finish at 2-under.
'There is a long way to go,' said Goin, who has yet to win on tour. 'It's always nice to get off to a good start. I haven't been playing well lately, for one particular reason or another. The rhythm kind of came around today.'
Smith, who is also seeking his first win on the Senior Tour, first moved into a tie for the lead with a birdie at the 11th. However, the 51-year-old ran into trouble with a bogey at very next hole.
Smith countered with a birdie at the seventh only to drop a shot with another bogey at the eighth. He remained calm and finished his round on a positive note with a birdie at the ninth.
'It's the best round I have had in quite a long time. I played real solid,' said Smith.
The leaders' opening-round score was the highest at this event since Chi Chi Rodriguez stood atop the leaderboard with a 2-under 70 after the first round in 1987.
Watson collected four birdies and three bogeys on his round to finish one stroke off the pace in the opening round of his title defense. The 52-year-old was at 1-over through 11 holes but was able to right the ship with back-to-back birdies from the 12th.
'I felt I was swinging well, I was just a little bit off,' said Watson. 'All in all it was a good round.'
Doug Tewell, who won this tournament in 2000, was part of a large group at even-par 70. He was joined by Brian Lowe, Bobby Wadkins, Walter Hall, Jim Ahern, Jerry Tucker, Larry Nelson, Bruce Fleisher, Larry Ziegler, Jay Overton and Roy Vucinich.
Jack Nicklaus, who missed this year's Masters because of a bad back, had some of the best shots during the opening round to finish one stroke further back at 1-over-par 71.
Nicklaus made his first birdie of the day at the par-4 11th after his approach found a greenside bunker. The 62-year-old blasted out of the sand and watched as the ball rolled into the cup.
At the par-4 17th, Nicklaus was on the green in two but had 50 feet for birdie. He ran home the long, bending putt for his second birdie of the day to the delight of the gallery.
Another bright moment of a dreary day was the play of 80-year-old Jack Fleck, who posted a 7-over-par 77.
'Well, I was very fortunate outside the 18th hole, but it was probably the finest round of putting that I may have had in my lifetime,' said Fleck, who ousted Ben Hogan in a playoff to win the 1955 U.S. Open.
Full-field scores from the Senior PGA Championship
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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.”