Thursday, June 21, 2018

Brittany Lincicome enlists famous friends for First Tee fundraiser

ST. PETERSBURG — Fresh off a holiday break that included getting married and honeymooning in Antigua, Seminole's Brittany Lincicome began preparing for the LPGA Tour season by hosting a celebrity pro-am at the Vinoy Golf Club on Thursday.

The tournament, which paired 27 celebrities with foursomes, benefitted the First Tee of St. Petersburg's mentoring center for at-risk youths that is being built at Twin Brooks Golf Course in St. Petersburg.

"It's going to be a place kids can go to after school," Lincicome said. "The long-term goal is to have computers to do homework, some snacks if they are hungry. Just a safe place to go and play some golf and study."

Lincicome, 30 and a two-time major winner entering her 12th pro season, brought star power to the event, including fellow pros Lydia Ko, Yani Tseng, Sandra Gal, Julieta Granada, Morgan Pressel, Val Skinner, Anna Nordqvist and Kris Tamulis.

Ko, 18 and ranked No. 1 in the world, won five times in 2015, including her first major, the Evian Championship. This was her first visit to the Tampa Bay area. "Brittany asked, and since it's for the First Tee of St. Petersburg and I'm an ambassador for the First Tee of New Zealand, I came out," said Ko, who is from New Zealand but lives full time in Orlando. "It's warmer here than anywhere else right now, so I'll take it."

LPGA Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam also played in the tournament. Sorenstam, retired and living in Orlando, said she tries to play in about 10 or 12 fundraisers every year.

"I want to support causes I care quite a bit about," Sorenstam said. "I helped start the Orlando First Tee, so when Brittany asked, I thought it would be a great event to come to."

Sorenstam, 45, won 72 times in 15 years on the tour, including 10 majors. She retired after the 2008 season. Though she still looks like she could play on the tour, Sorenstam said she is fully retired. "I'm not coming back," she said, laughing. "You didn't look at me too closely on the (driving) range."

Other players in the field were PGA member Woody Austin, NBC golf analyst Gary Koch, former Rays catcher Toby Hall, former major-league and Dixie Hollins pitcher Jesse Litsch, former Bucs fullback Mike Alstott and 1980 U.S. Olympic gold-medal-winning hockey goalie Jim Craig, who lives in Tierra Verde.

Lincicome spent most of the day playing host. She begins her season Jan. 28-31 at the LPGA Classic in the Bahamas. She returns to Florida to play in the Coates Championship on Feb. 3-6 in Ocala.

As is Lincicome's style, she is easing back into playing shape. "I'm playing about every other day right now," said Lincicome, who has won six times on the tour, including her second major at last year's ANA Inspiration. "I've been playing about nine to 12 holes. Slowly but surely getting back into it."

To learn more about the First Tee of St. Petersburg and its projects, go to .

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