Woods Back in Focus for Field

By Sports NetworkJuly 16, 2005, 4:00 pm
ST. ANDREWS, Scotland -- It might be too early to engrave Tiger Woods' name in the claret jug for winning the British Open.
Several big name players chased down the No. 1 player in the world on Saturday and his four-shot edge heading into the third round was cut in half.
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods opened the door for several others by shooting 1-under 71 on Saturday.
Woods closed his third round in style as he lagged a nearly 90-foot eagle try to tap-in range on the 18th hole. That allowed him to shoot a one-under 71 and finish 54 holes at 12-under-par 204 at the Old Course at St. Andrews.
Two-time Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal, who got into the field because fellow countryman Seve Ballesteros withdrew, carded a four-under 68 on Saturday and is alone in second place at minus-10.
Colin Montgomerie, who played in the last group with Woods on Saturday, ran home a 20-footer for birdie at the last to shoot a two-under 70. He is tied for third with two-time U.S. Open champion, Retief Goosen, who fired a 66 early in the third round. The duo is knotted nine-under-par 207.
Brad Faxon, who came over to local qualifying last week, shot a two-under 70 and is tied for fifth place with Sergio Garcia, who carded a 69 on Saturday, at minus-eight.
Reigning U.S. Open champion Michael Campbell got back into the mix with a four-under 68. Campbell, who held the 54-hole lead when the tournament was at St. Andrews in 1995, is tied for seventh place with Vijay Singh, who posted a one-under 71, at seven-under-par 209.
Woods began the final round with a four-shot lead over Montgomerie and no other players were able to close that gap until Tim Clark birdied his first three. Woods dropped a shot at the second when his three-footer for par lipped out of the hole. That dropped him to 10-under, and thanks to a six-foot birdie putt by Goosen at the 16th, Woods' lead was only one.
Goosen missed a six-foot par save at 17, but made a putt from the same length at the last for birdie to get in at minus-nine.
Woods then two-putted for birdie at the par-five fifth, but a pair of Europeans then cut the gap. He dropped a shot at the sixth when he drove into an unplayable lie near a gorse bush.
Montgomerie drained a six-footer for birdie at the fifth to reach eight-under par. He rolled in back-to-back birdie putts at the ninth and 10th to close the margin to one. Woods, who birdied the seventh, made a nice par at nine when he once again had to take a penalty for finding a gorse bush from the tee.
Olazabal cruised along with a pair of birdies on the front nine. At the 12th, Olazabal holed a 40-foot, left-to-right eagle putt up a slope to also reach 10-under par.
'It was a sweet moment,' said the Spaniard.
Things took a bad turn for the European tandem. At the 11th, Montgomerie came up 40 feet short and right of the pin at the par-three hole. His birdie try came up seven feet short and the Scotsman never touched the hole with his par putt. Woods had almost the exact same birdie putt and went to school on Monty's putt, lagging it to tap-in range.
Olazabal landed in a bunker at 13 and also made bogey. The pair was two behind the 2000 Open Champion, and Woods' length gave him the advantage at the par- four 12th.
His long drive at 12 allowed him to putt his eagle try, a common occurrence on Friday when he putted for eagle on three different par-fours. Woods rolled his 60-footer to nine feet, while Montgomerie had a look from close to 10 feet. Montgomerie's try came up a foot short and Woods poured his in the center to take a three-shot lead.
Olazabal shaved the number down to two with a spectacular birdie at the closing hole.
At the 16th, Woods drove into the rough, then ran through the putting surface with his second. He had a difficult pitch and the ball flew 35 feet past the stick. Woods missed that putt, left himself with almost four feet, but converted the putt for bogey.
Woods now had a one-shot lead and hit his tee ball into the left rough at the Road Hole, No. 17, at St. Andrews. He had an interesting lie in the fescue and tried to bump and run his ball on to the putting surface. It did not work as his ball leaked off the green. Woods' birdie try skidded 10 feet past the hole, leaving him with a tester to keep sole possession of the lead. He sank the putt to save par and the lead, then gave one of his traditional fist pumps.
'That was huge to keep the big mo' going,' admitted Woods. 'I felt like I battled all day and I didn't want to go back over par for the day. It would feel good making par there, then birdieing 18 to finish under par for the day after battling all day.'
At the last, Woods drove the ball left of the putting surface. He saw Montgomerie come up 20 feet short with his eagle putt from roughly the same distance, so Woods wrapped his to within a foot. Woods tapped in for the two- stroke cushion.
'It got hard coming in,' admitted Woods, who won this title by eight in 2000. 'I tried not to drop any coming home. I figured if I shot under par somehow for the day, more than likely, I would have a piece of the lead. To end up with the lead is pretty sweet.'
While the field drew closer, Woods has one statistic that makes him a tremendous favorite come Sunday. He's owned at least a piece of the 54-hole lead in nine majors, and he's won all nine.
'Having the experience to call upon to go out there and play with the lead, it doesn't hurt,' said Woods. 'I've done it before. Hopefully tomorrow I can put a quality round together.'
Olazabal will be in the hunt for his third major title and first British Open. He captured a pair of green jackets, including the 1999 title, which was his first major since missing time with a back injury in the mid-90s.
'I've had three great days on the golf course and I'm really enjoying myself this week,' said Olazabal. 'Obviously it's a bonus to be here because how I got in. I'll try to have as much fun as possible.'
John Daly, who won this title here in 1995, shot a two-under 70 and is tied for ninth place at six-under-par 210. He was joined six shots off the lead by Bart Bryant (71), Tim Clark (70), Darren Clarke (67), Soren Hansen (66), Maarten Lafeber (67), Bernhard Langer (70), Sean O'Hair (70), Kenny Perry (68), Scott Verplank (72) and 1985 champion Sandy Lyle (69).
Phil Mickelson moved up the leaderboard early on Saturday, but posted two bogeys and a double-bogey in the last seven holes. He managed an even-par 72 and is tied for 29th at minus-three.
Ernie Els, the 2002 champion, struggled to a three-over 75 and is part of a group that shares 56th at even-par 216.
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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, Dominic 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

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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.”

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    Koepka still has chip on his chiseled shoulder

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 17, 2018, 3:06 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Brooks Koepka prepared more for this Open than last year's.

    He picked up his clubs three times.

    That’s three more than last summer, when the only shots he hit between the summer Opens was during a commercial shoot for Michelob Ultra at TPC Sawgrass. He still tied for sixth at The Open a month later.

    This time, Koepka kept his commitment to play the Travelers, then hit balls three times between the final round in Hartford and this past Sunday, when he first arrived here at Carnoustie.

    Not that he was concerned, of course.

    Koepka’s been playing golf for nearly 20 years. He wasn’t about to forget to how to swing a club after a few weeks off.

    “It was pretty much the same thing,” he said Tuesday, during his pre-tournament news conference. “I shared it with one of my best friends, my family, and it was pretty much the same routine. It was fun. We enjoyed it. But I’m excited to get back inside the ropes and start playing again. I think you need to enjoy it any time you win and really embrace it and think about what you’ve done.”

    At Shinnecock Hills, Koepka became the first player in nearly 30 years to repeat as U.S. Open champion – a major title that helped him shed his undeserved reputation as just another 20-something talent who relies solely on his awesome power. In fact, he takes immense pride in his improved short game and putting inside 8 feet.

    “I can take advantage of long golf courses,” he said, “but I enjoy plotting my way around probably - more than the bombers’ golf courses - where you’ve got to think, be cautious sometimes, and fire at the center of the greens. You’ve got to be very disciplined, and that’s the kind of golf I enjoy.”

    Which is why Koepka once again fancies his chances here on the type of links that helped launch his career.

    Koepka was out of options domestically after he failed to reach the final stage of Q-School in 2012. So he packed his bags and headed overseas, going on a tear on the European Challenge Tour (Europe’s equivalent of the Web.com circuit) and earning four titles, including one here in Scotland. That experience was the most fun and beneficial part of his career, when he learned to win, be self-sufficient and play in different conditions.

    Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

    “There’s certain steps, and I embraced it,” Koepka said. “I think that’s where a lot of guys go wrong. You are where you are, and you have to make the best of it instead of just putting your head down and being like, 'Well, I should be on the PGA Tour.' Well, guess what? You’re not. So you’ve got to suck it up wherever you are, make the best of it, and keep plugging away and trying to win everything you can because, eventually, if you’re good enough, you will get out here.”

    Koepka has proved that he’s plenty good enough, of course: He’s a combined 20 under in the majors since the beginning of 2017, the best of any player during that span. But he still searches long and hard for a chip to put on his chiseled shoulder.

    In his presser after winning at Shinnecock, Koepka said that he sometimes feels disrespected and forgotten, at least compared to his more-ballyhooed peers. It didn’t necessarily bother him – he prefers to stay out of the spotlight anyway, eschewing a media tour after each of his Open titles – but it clearly tweaked him enough for him to admit it publicly.

    That feeling didn’t subside after he went back to back at the Open, either. On U.S. Open Sunday, ESPN’s Instagram page didn’t showcase a victorious Koepka, but rather a video of New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. dunking a basketball.

    “He’s like 6-foot-2. He’s got hops – we all know that – and he’s got hands. So what’s impressive about that?” Koepka said. “But I always try to find something where I feel like I’m the underdog and put that little chip on my shoulder. Even if you’re No. 1, you’ve got to find a way to keep going and keep that little chip on.

    “I think I’ve done a good job of that. I need to continue doing that, because once you’re satisfied, you’re only going to go downhill. You try to find something to get better and better, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”

    Now 28, Koepka has a goal of how many majors he’d like to win before his career is over, but he wasn’t about to share it.

    Still, he was adamant about one thing: “Right now I’m focused on winning. That’s the only thing I’ve got in my mind. Second place just isn’t good enough. I finished second a lot, and I’m just tired of it. Once you win, it kind of propels you. You have this mindset where you just want to keep winning. It breeds confidence, but you want to have that feeling of gratification: I finally did this. How cool is this?”

    So cool that Koepka can’t wait to win another one.