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Lincicome 1-ups Creamer
Paula Creamer's tour debut was high-profile compared to Lincicome's and she made the most of it.
By BOB HARIG
Published April 18, 2006
Brittany Lincicome goes way back with Paula Creamer . They are a few months apart in age (Lincicome is 20, Creamer will turn 20 later this year), both had their share of tussles in the junior ranks, and both came to the LPGA Tour with a good bit of fanfare last year.
But there were differences. Creamer's amateur career was high-profile and included a four-year stint at the Leadbetter Academy in Bradenton. She came to the LPGA Tour with a swing coach, agent and psychologist.
Lincicome had none of that. She was home-schooled in Seminole, worked with local pro Matt Mitchell and joined the LPGA without the same support system afforded Creamer.
So perhaps it wasn't a surprise that Creamer won twice, was rookie of the year and was talking about trying to overtake Annika Sorenstam as No. 1.
Meanwhile, Lincicome was taking it slower. She had no top-10 finishes, but earned enough money to comfortably keep her LPGA card for this year.
And that's why the Takefuji Classic in Las Vegas was such a huge step for Lincicome.
She not only finished third and earned her biggest payday($72,046), she also beat Creamer while playing in the same group two of the three days, including the final round Saturday along with eventual champion Lorena Ochoa .
"We've gone back and forth through junior golf, and since she became a pro she's been playing awesome," Lincicome said Monday from Atlanta, where she is getting ready for this week's Florida's Natural Charity Championship. "To finish ahead of her, it was a great thing to do. It's not a rivalry-type thing or anything, but to finish ahead of her ... I was very, very excited. It's not like that is my goal every week, but it was exciting."
Lincicome, who is second on the LPGA Tour in driving distance, averaging 288.5 yards, has been working to "take the left side out of play. When I hit it left, it would cause problems."
Lincicome is finding more fairways now and ranks 10th on the tour in greens in regulation, hitting more than 73 percent. In five tournaments she has not missed a cut and has earned $93,886. That is only about $30,000 behind her total for 2005.
"This year is a lot easier because I know the courses," she said. "I know the travel and all of that. I know a lot of the girls, all of which makes it easier."
SHARK INVITES ANNIKA: Greg Norman makes no secret of the fact he did not think it was right for Sorenstam to receive a sponsor exemption to the Colonial three years ago. "Anybody who plays in a regular tour event, whether it's in Australia, whether it's in Europe, or in the U.S., should earn their stripes to go play it," Norman said.
But that didn't stop him from inviting Sorenstam to play in the Shark Shootout later this year in Naples. On a conference call Monday to announce that the event held at Tiburon had secured a title sponsor (Merrill Lynch), Norman said Sorenstam and Fred Couples are the first of 24 players to commit to the team event. Sorenstam's partner will be determined later.
"This is a totally different event," Norman said. "Even though it's co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour, it's still got that relaxed atmosphere and an individual like Annika Sorenstam will come and add a tremendous amount of value to it."
Norman said he has no problem with women playing in regular events or even playing the tour full time, as long as they earn their way.
"Where there was a special invitation, where there were other guys who have qualified and might miss a spot ... that's where I thought it was just a little bit off," he said.
AROUND GOLF: Tampa's Ryuji Imada was first off Sunday morning at the Verizon Heritage and played alone, finishing his round in 1 hour, 51 minutes. He shot 69. ... Vijay Singh is the two-time defending champion of this week's Houston Open, but he has gone 17 starts without a victory.