Another shot at redemption for Furyk

By Will GraySeptember 15, 2013, 12:01 am

LAKE FOREST, Ill. – A BMW Championship win won’t erase Jim Furyk's disappointment of last month’s PGA Championship. Nor is it likely to heal the pain of being left off next month’s Presidents Cup squad, or even his Ryder Cup disappointment at nearby Medinah a year ago.

Still, winning a PGA Tour event matters. It matters a bit more in the FedEx Cup Playoffs, and its magnitude is further amplified for a player who has so often been in position to claim victory, but has come up empty since the 2010 Tour Championship.

For a man with a U.S. Open trophy and a FedEx Cup title under his belt, Furyk, who takes a one-stroke lead into Sunday's final round at Conway Farms, has been largely defined across the past two years by the tournaments that have slipped through his fingers. A playoff loss in Tampa, a costly double bogey on the 72nd hole at Firestone. A snap-hooked tee shot at Olympic, and a front-row seat for Jason Dufner’s final-round clinic at Oak Hill.

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A win Sunday would at least make up for some of that frustration.

“There’s always pressure to win,” Furyk said after shooting a 2-under 69 in Saturday’s third round. “I’m going to put pressure on myself because I expect myself to play well, and I expect more of myself than anyone else.”

Furyk admitted that the pressure he feels has been ratcheted up in recent years with his string of close calls, and will be an obstacle to overcome during the final round.

“It’s been three years. No one has to remind me,” he noted, referencing his most recent victory that also earned him the season-long FedEx Cup title in 2010. “That’ll be part of the mental game and the mental aspect of it tomorrow, to go out there and stay in the moment and just play golf and not really worry about it.”

Furyk can derive strength from the mental battle he won Saturday, successfully backing up his record-tying 59 with a round that allowed his name to remain atop the leaderboard in Chicago. Nevertheless, the bigger of the two challenges still lies ahead.

“Following a 59 is a breeze, man. How upset are you going to get today?” he added. “I think winning a golf tournament is obviously the tougher one.”

Should Furyk make his way into the winner’s circle Sunday, he’ll have to go through another 40-something, one who has continued to surprise even himself all season long.

“I really had no expectations,” Steve Stricker said of the approach he took entering his notably abbreviated 2013 campaign. “Really didn’t plan on playing much in the playoffs.”

Plans for vacations and elk hunting, though, can be ruined by a seemingly endless string of upper-echelon golf. After a runner-up finish at TPC Boston that earned the 46-year-old a spot on Fred Couples’ squad at Muirfield Village next month, Stricker has picked up right where he left off, standing one shot behind Furyk at Conway Farms.

“I’ve got a good balance in my life. I’m happy with what I’m doing,” noted Stricker, who appears destined for his seventh top-10 finish in just 12 starts this year after posting a Saturday 64.

Though he remains without a victory in 2013, Stricker’s season has been by most accounts an unbridled success. He is now projected to move to fourth in the overall FedEx Cup standings, and could climb further still with a victory.

“I won’t pay attention to that part so much as trying to win the tournament,” he said, eschewing, as many players have, the notion of constant number-crunching of projected FedEx Cup points. “I’m going to be paying attention to tomorrow, and then all that other stuff kind of takes care of itself.”

Still very much in contention is a man who knows a little something about FedEx Cup math – Brandt Snedeker. Last season’s overall champion struggled somewhat on the greens Saturday, taking 29 putts en route to an even-par 71 after needing just 48 to complete the first 36 holes. Still, at 11 under and just two shots behind Furyk’s lead, the 32-year-old will try for his third victory of the 2013 season, as he looks to further position himself for a second consecutive season-long crown.

“You’re going to have a bad day,” noted Snedeker. “To be able to survive today the way I did gives me a lot of confidence going into tomorrow.”

Lurking, of course, is world No. 1 Tiger Woods, who continues to attempt to rebound from Friday’s still-controversial two-shot penalty. His 5-under 66 Saturday was his second such score this week at Conway Farms, and should he replicate – or even surpass – that total during the final round, he may leave Chicago with his sixth trophy of the season, one that would undoubtedly relieve some potential headaches that could arise from PGA Tour officials should Woods ultimately finish one or two shots short.

Though several players enter Sunday’s final round with trophy in sight, the heat of the spotlight remains on Furyk in his quest to stem a string of near-misses with a single victory that will allow him to head toward the 2013-14 season with hard-earned momentum.

He acknowledged Saturday evening that the round of golf he has yet to play will be a difficult one.

“It’s been awhile. I’m going to put pressure on myself,” he admitted. “That will be the struggle.”

The first step toward redemption always is.

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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.”