Saturday, February 17, 2018
Golf

Brittany Lincicome, Gary Koch headline First Tee event at Babe Zaharias Golf Course

TAMPA — As Brittany Lincicome lined up her second shot at the second hole Thursday, a brute of an oak tree about 30 feet away blocked her path to the green.

The perfect opportunity, playing partner Gary Koch figured, for a little good-natured fun.

"You told me you could hit a hook," Koch said loud enough for spectators at Babe Zaharias Golf Course to hear. "Come on, these people want to see shots. Show us your big hook."

So Lincicome, from 150 yards, calmly steered her ball right-to-left to the fringe of the green.

"That's what it was about," Koch said later. "We're out here to have a good time and, hopefully, entertain the people a little bit for a good cause."

The fourth annual Battle at the Babe included eight pros, seven with local ties, split into four teams for a pair of four-ball matches to raise funds for the First Tee of Tampa Bay, which provides kids with educational and character-building programs tied to golf.

The locals: LPGA players Lincicome and Cindy LaCrosse; former LPGA player Sally Dee; eGolf Tour player Brad Brunner; T.J. Heidel, head pro at Tampa's Rogers Park Golf Course; Koch, a former PGA player now on the Champions Tour and an NBC golf analyst; and Jay McNair, also of Rogers Park and a former contestant on the Golf Channel's Big Break II. He filled in for PGA player John Huston, who has a bad shoulder.

LPGA player Kris Tamulis of Naples also participated.

For the record, LaCrosse and Brunner beat Lincicome and Koch. Tamulis and Heidel beat Dee and McNair.

Really, though, the results were secondary.

"I grew up in First Tee," said Heidel, who in 2009 started the Battle at the Babe as the pro at Babe Zaharias. "To be able to create something that enables me to give back is a dream come true."

Said Lincicome of Seminole, a five-time LPGA champion: "Anything you can do to raise money for the kids is a blessing. It's an honor to do what I do every day, and just to be able to give back my time a little bit and raise money for such a wonderful cause, it's kind of a no-brainer."

Laura Beuhring, director of golf at Babe Zaharias, said she hopes next year's event will feature 12 players. Heidel said he believes it can grow to 16. To facilitate that and draw a bigger crowd, the date will be moved to between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

On Thursday, despite some admitted offseason rust, the pros, in front of a crowd of about 150, put on a pretty good show.

Brunner of Tampa, who holds the Babe Zaharias course record of 58, sank a 35-foot eagle putt on the sixth hole.

Koch of Tampa cut the corner on No. 7, a 362-yard dogleg right, and drove the green.

But Lincicome's second shot on No. 2 after Koch's challenge was the shot of the day.

"He put me on the spot with every single person in the crowd," Lincicome, 27, said, laughing.

"And she hit the shot," Koch, 60, said with approval.

"I did," Lincicome added. "That was exciting."

Comments

Dustin Johnson, Ted Potter Jr. tied for lead at Pebble Beach National Pro-Am

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — Dustin Johnson overcame a sloppy back nine in the stiffening breeze by making a 10-foot birdie on the 18th hole at Pebble Beach for 2-under 70 that gave him a share of the lead going into the final round of the Pebble Beach Nat...
Published: 02/10/18
Tiger Woods at the Valspar Championship? Maybe

Tiger Woods at the Valspar Championship? Maybe

PALM HARBOR — Every year at this time, Valspar Championship officials release a list of players committed to the tournament, those likely to commit and those who have not definitively said no. For the first time since it became a PGA Tour event in 20...
Published: 02/08/18
Gary Woodland rallies to win Phoenix Open in playoff

Gary Woodland rallies to win Phoenix Open in playoff

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Gary Woodland was surprised to see infant son Jaxson with wife Gabby late Sunday afternoon at the Phoenix Open. "My wife kind of surprised me with him," Woodland said. "I didn’t think he was going to be there. I thought it would j...
Published: 02/04/18
Record crowd watches Rickie Fowler take Phoenix Open lead

Record crowd watches Rickie Fowler take Phoenix Open lead

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Rickie Fowler birdied the last three holes in front of the largest crowd in golf history Saturday to take the lead in the Phoenix Open. Fowler shot 4-under 67 to reach 14 under with a round left at TPC Scottsdale’s Stadium Course,...
Published: 02/03/18
Fowler back in contention in Scottsdale

Fowler back in contention in Scottsdale

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Rickie Fowler took a share of the lead into the weekend in the Phoenix Open. He knows from experience the party is just getting started. "Just keep the gas pedal down," Fowler said. Fowler has had a lot of success at TPC Scottsdal...
Published: 02/02/18

Bill Haas takes first-round lead at PGA’s Phoenix Open

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Bill Haas’ 9-iron landed to the right of the pin and spun left, settling 3 feet away for birdie on the par-3 16th in the Phoenix Open. "I just tried to play the hole like I would any other hole, even though it’s not like any other...
Updated one month ago
Jason Day wins playoff at Farmers Insurance Open

Jason Day wins playoff at Farmers Insurance Open

SAN DIEGO — Jason Day calmly sank an 18-inch birdie putt at 8:17 a.m. Monday in front of empty grandstands on No. 18 at Torrey Pines for his first PGA Tour win in 20 months. There were no roars, just cheers from Day’s family and a handful of mates. I...
Updated one month ago

Seminole’s Brittany Lincicome defends title at Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic

PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas — Brittany Lincicome beat darkness — with help from floodlights Sunday on the Ocean Club’s 18th green — to win the Bahamas LPGA Classic for the second straight year. The Seminole resident birdied the final two holes and four ...
Updated one month ago

Nine-time European champion Alex Noren takes lead at Farmers Insurance Open

SAN DIEGO — A nine-time winner on the European Tour, Alex Noren of Sweden gave himself a chance to make his mark in America with 3-under 69 Saturday for a one-shot lead going into the final round of the Farmers Insurance Open. Noren finished strong, ...
Updated one month ago
Ryan Palmer leads Farmers Insurance Open; Tiger Woods barely makes cut

Ryan Palmer leads Farmers Insurance Open; Tiger Woods barely makes cut

SAN DIEGO — Ryan Palmer is the 36-hole leader in the Farmers Insurance Open. Jon Rahm is right behind, poised to reach No. 1 in the world. And for the first time in 29 months, a PGA Tour event will feature Tiger Woods on the weekend. Palmer finished ...
Updated one month ago