Woods eight back after 'not too bad' opening 72

By Will GrayJanuary 24, 2014, 1:42 am

SAN DIEGO – The marine layer that encased Torrey Pines early Thursday morning burned off by 9 a.m. local time.

It took considerably longer for the fog to lift from around the world’s top-ranked player.

Tiger Woods carded only two birdies during his opening round on the South Course, considerably more difficult than its counterpart to the north. As a result, he finds himself well down the leaderboard as he looks to defend his title at the Farmers Insurance Open, eight shots behind overnight leader Stewart Cink.

“Even par’s not too bad, but I didn’t play the par-5s worth a darn today,” said Woods, who failed to break par in the opening round for the first time in 14 career starts in this event.

Playing his first competitive round of 2014, Woods appeared to show some signs of rust throughout the day, finding only 7 of 14 fairways while reaching 11 of 18 greens in regulation. After the round, he opted to take a positive outlook on his performance from tee to green.

“I didn’t feel that rusty; I felt that I hit a lot of good shots,” he explained. “I hit probably three loose ones out there … but it wasn’t that bad.”

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Woods was likely anticipating his higher early-week score to come on the South Course, but he now finds himself in a far different position than a year ago, when he opened with 68 and then took control of the event with a second-round 65 on the easier North Course.

With more than a third of the field now ahead of him in the standings, he realizes that a low score is a requirement Friday morning.

“It’s got to be playing right around three shots easier,” he said of the North, which actually averaged nearly four shots less than the South, “so I’m going to have to go out there and get it a little bit tomorrow to not be so far behind come Saturday or Sunday.”

After notching his first birdie of the year on the second hole Thursday, Woods suffered through a stretch of 11 holes in the heart of his round without another circle on his scorecard. He was not without opportunity – five straight birdie putts failed to find the hole from Nos. 6-10 – but for Woods, the most glaring area for improvement was his performance on the four longest holes.

“Obviously that’s paramount to try to get any kind of scoring on the South Course is you’ve got to take care of the par-5s, because there’s not a lot of holes you can make birdies here,” noted Woods. “I didn’t do that, so subsequently I didn’t finish under par.”

Last year, Woods played the par-5s in 7 under during his three rounds on the South Course. Thursday, he was only able to muster par on each of them – which, according to Woods, made all the difference.

“If I play those normal, I’m 2, 3-under par,” he added, “and all of a sudden it’s a pretty good round.”

No one can match the 38-year-old’s track record in San Diego, but Woods will likely need to rely on his sizeable bank of positive memories as he looks to battle back from a rather unfamiliar position.

At T-63, he’s farther back after 18 holes than any year since 2004, when he netted a tie for 10th from the same opening-round position. The only time he was deeper in the standings came during his first start here in 1998, when he ultimately moved from 79th into a tie for third, while his worst starting position among his seven victories came in 2006, when he won a playoff despite starting in 57th place after an opening 71.

While his first-round score left him well down the leaderboard, Woods’ opening effort was by no means a poor one. He had only two bogeys on a course that chewed up many players Thursday, and matched par despite holing only two putts longer than six feet all day.

It was a fact that was not lost on the current world No. 1, who knew immediately after the round that he had fared better on the South than the average participant.

“I mean, even par right now is probably going to put me … about one or two shots under par on the South Course, below average,” noted Woods.

By the end of the day, even that estimate proved conservative, as the opening-round scoring average on the South finished at a stout 74.449 strokes.

With the prospect of a return to the South looming this weekend, he offered a not-so-subtle hint that he hopes conditions firm up before a potential tee time on Saturday.

“We figured the Tour might soften it up, and they did,” said Woods, who commented Wednesday that conditions were firmer than he had seen in years past. “They’ve softened it up as the day’s gone on, but I think it’s just get us through the cut and then see what happens.”

Before he returns to the track where he last hoisted a major trophy, Woods will need to make the most of his brief time on the North Course. The sizeable imbalance in the scoring averages between the two layouts makes his position appear worse than it actually is, and scores among the field will even out after the second round.

The fact remains, though, that if Woods is going to challenge this weekend for an eighth Farmers title, he’ll need to keep the fog at bay Friday.

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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.”