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Golf

Lincicome gains from Hawaii event

By DAVE THEALL
Published March 1, 2005


LPGA rookie Brittany Lincicome had a learning experience last weekend in Hawaii during her first pro tournament of the year.

It was a success in that the 19-year-old Seminole phenom battled through strong wind in the SBS Open at Turtle Bay.

Lincicome made the 36-hole cut with 70-76, then posted a final 2-over 74 for 220 and a tie for 40th.

"Overall, I'm pleased since it was my best pro finish in three starts despite the adverse conditions," Lincicome said.

"It was difficult for me - and all of us - dealing with 25 mile-an-hour winds that gusted up to the 35-40 mile range," she said. "Basically, I stuck with my game plan and just hit my normal shot and didn't try to knock down to keep the ball low."

Lincicome started fast Wednesday, making six birdies that were offset with four bogeys for the 70 and a share of seventh.

She was coasting in the second round until the 17th hole, where she double bogeyed on a par 4. Then on the 520-yard par-5 18th, Lincicome aggressively went for the green in two and paid a heavy penalty.

On back-to-back occasions, her approach shot found a watery grave. The result was a triple-bogey 8 and 76.

"We were afraid that with that finish I might miss the cut, but I still made it by two strokes," Lincicome said, referring to her father and caddie, Tom. "At least I'm glad I didn't have to play on that day bothered by what I had just done."

Lincicome's final round of 74 enabled her to win $5,012 and tie with tour veteran Julie Inkster and Paula Creamer , 18, of Bradenton.

Creamer, on the cover in the current issue of Golfweek, is favored to win LPGA Rookie of the Year honors.

Angie Lincicome , Brittany's mother, made the trip to the 50th state. She expects her daughter to continue to do well because of her distance, accuracy and confidence.

"Brit averaged 282 with her drives here," Angie said of Turtle Bay.

"That was longer than Michelle Wie . And on Saturday, her (Lincicome's) drive on 18 was officially measured at 350 yards with the tailwind."

LPGA NOTES: Matt Mitchell , Lincicome's coach at the Downs Practice Facility in Oldsmar, said prior to the Hawaii tournament that he thought she was capable of doing well this season.

"Brittany is already tournament tough and ready for the pro challenge," Mitchell said. "The only thing I told her before going out there is to stick with her shot routine. That is, get a clear picture of what you are trying to do with each shot, then execute.

"She's already got one advantage in that she's played mostly at Bardmoor where it measures over 7,000 yards. So she won't be intimidated by the length of any of the courses on tour.

"I talked with her on Tuesday, and she was relaxed," he said. "She had just played a practice round with (tour veteran) Pat Hurst and won $30 by making four birdies and an eagle. That thrilled her and helped loosen her up."

Lincicome received a warm reception Saturday from Miami's Cristie Kerr , who is among the tour's top 10 players. She congratulated Lincicome and asked to exchange phone numbers so they could practice together.

The Lincicomes, Brittany and Tom, now go to the inaugural MasterCard Classic, Friday-Sunday in Mexico. The prize purse is $1.2 million.

OUTBACK STEAKHOUSE PRO-AM: Belleair Country Club member Steve Chapman has been in the limelight at the Champions Tour event the past two years.

Playing with veteran Mike McCullough last season, the duo walked off with the first-place trophy.

This year, Chapman, 44, was paired with legend Ray Floyd , who has a U.S. Open trophy among many other victories in 30 seasons on the PGA Tour. Due to rainy weather, they completed only 18 holes before Monday's finale, which Floyd didn't play. He withdrew on Sunday.

In the opening round, Chapman enjoyed a fast start with a net birdie chip-in from 20 yards on the par-4 first hole. He followed with three net birdies.

"It was comfortable playing with him (Floyd)," said Chapman, the founder and CEO of Dupont Publishing Company of St.Petersburg. "He's quiet, a nice guy."

Chapman's caddie was his son, Will, 14.

NATIONWIDE TOUR: Greg Kraft , a Feather Sound resident who played at the University of Tampa, moved up on the money list with a 13th-place tie in last weekend's New Zealand PGA Championship. He was 8-under 280, receiving $10,600. A top-20 finish on the list would return Kraft to the PGA Tour.

COLLEGES: St.Petersburg's Mike Barbosa , a Georgia Tech junior, led teammate Nick Thompson by two strokes after 36 holes of the Jones Cup Tournament in Sea Island, Ga.

Thompson, however, finished with the match's best round (6-under 66) on the Ocean Forest course for a winning 214. Barbosa struggled with a closing 79 to place 11 back.

Indiana's Jeff Overton , winner of the New Year's Invitational at St.Petersburg Country Club, took seventh (219).

South Florida captured sixth among 18 teams in the UCF/Rio Pinar Intercollegiate in Orlando. The Bulls' top finishers were fifth-place Brad Quiri (East Lake High), Jason Elliott (Palm Harbor U.), tie for ninth; and Ryan Shears (East Lake), share of 15th.

Megan Riley (Largo High), a forme r Times Player of the Year, is in her final season at Florida Southern in Lakeland. She tied for 38th (81-79-160) in the UCF Invitational, helping her squad finish fourth among 12 teams.

LARGO SCRAMBLE: The winning team Feb.19 consisted of Norm Capellete and Joyce Weber of Indian Shores plus Clearwater's George Fedorka and St.Petersburg's Dave Nagy . They shot 13-under 49.

WEST COAST WOMEN: Clearwater Country Club's Nan Habjan won Flight B of a match at Pasadena last week. Her 83 defeated Mary Ann Neary (86) of East Lake Woodlands. Cove Cay's Mary Riepe tied for first (85) in Flight C, one up on Loretta Roush of Innisbrook. In Flight D, East Lake's Kathy Conroy prevailed with an 88.

COMING UP: The 49th annual Gasparilla Invitational starts Friday at Palma Ceia.

The annual Matthew Hall Memorial Classic is set for April 30 at East Bay Golf Club. It's a four-player scramble to benefit several area and national charities, including the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and Largo's Eight O'Clock Theatre. For registration information, call (727) 733-6400.

[Last modified March 1, 2005, 01:11:12]


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