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Belleair’s Pelican Golf Club readies for inaugural LPGA tournament

The Pelican Women’s Championship will tee off next week after being postponed in mid-May.
Brittany Lincicome, of St. Petersburg, enters the tournament ranked No. 56 on the LPGA Tour money winners list with $153,279 in earnings in 10 events played this season.
Brittany Lincicome, of St. Petersburg, enters the tournament ranked No. 56 on the LPGA Tour money winners list with $153,279 in earnings in 10 events played this season. [ MATT SLOCUM | AP ]
Published Nov. 13, 2020
Updated Nov. 15, 2020

The LPGA Tour returns to Pinellas County for the first time in 30 years this week as the Pelican Golf Club in Belleair welcomes the Pelican Women’s Championship.

The tournament, originally scheduled for mid May, was postponed due to the coronavirus. It now takes place Thursday through Sunday.

The last time the LPGA played in the Tampa Bay area was 1989, for the St. Petersburg Women’s Open.

“I think it’s important for not only the area but women’s golf and women’s sports in general, given everything that’s going on,” said Scott Reid, the tournament’s executive director. “I think it’s going to be wonderful for the community here that’s hosting it, in addition to the greater Tampa area and really the whole state of Florida.”

The tour schedule was reduced from 33 tournaments to 18 this season because of the coronavirus, so the Pelican Championship is one of four remaining in 2020. The 108-player field is scheduled to include world No. 1 Jin Young Ko and Seminole native and now Gulfport resident Brittany Lincicome.

“Generally, we’re excited that we’re still able to have the event despite the scenario with (the coronavirus) and everything,” Reid said. “We feel very fortunate and appreciative of (Pelican Golf Club owner) Dan Doyle, the Pelican Golf Club and our sponsors that we’re still able to deliver a professional women’s golf tournament in these times.”

Here’s what you should know about the tournament:

No fans permitted

Like many other sporting events during the pandemic, the tournament will not permit fans to attend. Organizers came to the decision in September after consulting with public health officials and the LPGA, according to Belleair’s general agenda notes.

About 500 people, including VIPs and sponsors, will be allowed.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming fans back next year, hopefully,” Reid said, “and building this event on something that will stay here for a long time.”

Renovated course

The former Belleview Biltmore Golf Club, constructed in 1925, has been renovated since Dex Imaging’s Dan Doyle Sr. and Jr. took ownership in May 2017. Renovations, including notable differences to the clubhouse and course, were completed over the summer.

The tournament postponement gave the club a bit of “breathing room” to make sure everything was just right for the tournament, Reid said.

"I think (the players) are going to walk away saying, ‘Wow, what a wonderful facility in Pelican Golf Club and what a wonderful community within the town of Belleair and Tampa Bay and St. Pete,’ " Reid said.

“I think it’s something that they’re going to want to make sure it’s on their calendar every year that they’re going to come and play in the Pelican Women’s Championship.”

Who’s playing?

Jessica Korda watches her tee shot on the third hole during the second round of the LPGA's ANA Inspiration at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, Calif., on Sept. 11.
Jessica Korda watches her tee shot on the third hole during the second round of the LPGA's ANA Inspiration at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, Calif., on Sept. 11. [ RINGO H.W. CHIU | Associated Press ]

Besides Ko and Lincicome, the field will also include 85 of the top 100 in the world rankings and eight of the top 10 players on the tour money list.

“No question, I think we have one of the best, if not the best, field (of players) for the LPGA Tour events that have happened this year,” Reid said. “We have a great field and a lot of young and up-and-coming stars, as well.”

Lincicome, 35, is a two-time winner of the major ANA Inspiration among her eight career tour wins. She enters the tournament ranked No. 56 on the money list with $153,279 in earnings in 10 events this season.

Also with area ties are Jessica Korda and Nathalie Filler.

Korda, 27, of Sarasota, has five career wins and is ranked 24th in the world. Her younger sister, Nelly, ranked No. 3, will not be able to compete after having to withdraw from the Women’s PGA Championship last month due to a back injury.

Filler, a Tampa resident, most recently won the North Florida PGA Women’s Sectional Championship in Palm Harbor in June. The Pelican Championship will be her first LPGA Tour event.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better field turnout,” Reid said.

LPGA Tour Pelican Women’s Championship

Thursday-Sunday, Pelican Golf Club, Belleair

Purse: $1.5 million

History: This is the inaugural event

TV: Tape delay, 4 p.m. Thursday-Sunday, Golf Channel

Website: pelicanlpga.com

Here’s a full list of who’s competing (in alphabetical order, Florida players in bold):

1. Brittany Altomare of Shrewsbury, Mass.

2. Pajaree Anannarukarn of Bangkok, Thailand

3. Celine Boutier of Montrouge, France

4. Nicole Broch Larsen of Hiellerod, Denmark

5. Sierra Brooks of Orlando

6. Ashleigh Buhai of Johannesburg, South Africa

7. Matilda Castren of Helsinki, Finland

8. Tiffany Chan of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

9. Jennifer Chang of Cary, N.C.

10. Chella Choi of Seoul, Republic of Korea

11. In Gee Chun of Seoul, Republic of Korea

12. Cydney Clanton of Concord, N.C.

13. Jenny Coleman of Rolling Hills Estates, Calif.

14. Daniela Darquea of Quito, Ecuador

15. Perrine Delacour of Laon, France

16. Lindy Duncan of Jupiter

17. Austin Ernst of Seneca, S.C.

18. Jodi Ewart Shadoff of North Yorkshire, England

19. Maria Fassi of Pachuca, Mexico

20. Nathalie Filler of Tampa

21. Dana Finkelstein of Chandler, Ariz.

22. Sandra Gal of Dusseldorf, Germany

23. Kristen Gillman of Austin, Texas

24. Julieta Granada of Asuncion, Paraguay

25. Hannah Green of Perth, Australia

26. Jaye Marie Green of Jupiter

27. Natalie Gulbis of Lake Las Vegas, Va.

28. Mina Harigae of Monterey, Calif.

29. Nasa Hataoka of Ibaraki, Japan

30. Muni He of Chengdu, China

31. Brooke M. Henderson of Smiths Falls, Ontario

32. Jillian Hollis of Rocky River, Ohio

33. Mi Jung Hur of Daejeon, Republic of Korea

34. Eun Hee Ji of Seoul, Republic of Korea

35. Tiffany Joh of San Diego, Calif.

36. Moriya Jutanugarn of Bangkok, Thailand

37. Danielle Kang of Las Vegas, Nev.

38. Haeji Kang of Seoul, Republic of Korea

39. Cristie Kerr of Scottsdale, Ariz.

40. Megan Khang of Rockland, Mass.

41. Sei Young Kim of Seoul, Republic of Korea

42. Katherine Kirk of Sunrise Beach, Australia

43. Cheyenne Knight of Aledo, Texas

44. Jin Young Ko of Seoul, Republic of Korea

45. Lydia Ko of Auckland, New Zealand

46. Nanna Koerstz Madsen of Smoerum, Denmark

47. Jessica Korda of Jupiter

48. Jennifer Kupcho of Westminster, Colo.

49. Brittany Lang of McKinney, Texas

50. Bronte Law of Stockport, England

51. Andrea Lee of Hermosa Beach, Calif.

52. Esther Lee of Artesia, Calif.

53. Jeong Eun Lee of Seoul, Republic of Korea

54. Mi Hyang Lee of Seoul, Republic of Korea

55. Minjee Lee of Perth, Australia

56. Jeong-eun Lee of Gyeonggi-Do, Republic of Korea

57. Stacy Lewis of The Woodlands, Texas

58. Xiyu Lin of Guangzhou, China

59. Brittany Lincicome of Seminole

60. Pernilla Lindberg of Bollnas, Sweden (SWE)

61. Yu Liu of Beijing, China

62. Leona Maguire of County Cavan, Ireland

63. Mo Martin of Naples

64. Caroline Masson of Gladbeck, Germany

65. Ally McDonald of Fulton, Miss.

66. Stephanie Meadow of Jordanstown, Northern Ireland

67. Giulia Molinaro of Treviso, Italy

68. Haley Moore of Crystal Lake, Ill.

69. Mind Muangkhumsakul of Banphai, Thailand

70. Azahara Munoz of San Pedro de Alcantara, Spain

71. Yealimi Noh of Concord, Calif.

72. Ryann O’Toole of San Clemente, Calif.

73. Su Oh of Melbourne, Australia

74. Amy Olson of Oxbow, N.D.

75. Bianca Pagdanganan of Mandaluyong City, Philippines

76. Annie Park of Levittown, N.Y.

77. Hee Young Park of Seoul, Republic of Korea

78. Sung Hyun Park of Seoul, Republic of Korea

79. Pornanong Phatlum of Chaiyaphum, Thailand

80. Gerina Piller of Roswell, N.M.

81. Sophia Popov of Heidelberg, Germany

82. Morgan Pressel of Boca Raton

83. Robynn Ree of Redondo Beach, Calif.

84. Mel Reid of Derby, England

85. Gabriela Ruffels of Melbourne, Australia

86. Madelene Sagstrom of Enkoping, Sweden

87. Sarah Schmelzel of Pheonix, Ariz.

88. Alena Sharp of Hamilton, Ontario

89. Jenny Shin of Seoul, Republic of Korea

90. Sarah Jane Smith of Sunshine Coast, Australia

91. Jennifer Song of Orlando

92. Angela Stanford of Saginaw, Texas

93. Lauren Stephenson of Lexington, S.C.

94. Jackie Stoelting of Vero Beach

95. Linnea Strom of Hovas, Sweden

96. Jasmine Suwannapura of Bangkok, Thailand

97. Elizabeth Szokol of Winnetka, Ill.

98. Emma Talley of Princeton, Ky.

99. Kelly Tan of Batu Pahat, Malaysia

100. Patty Tavatanakit of Bangkok, Thailand

101. Charlotte Thomas of Guildford, England

102. Lexi Thompson of Delray Beach

103. Maria Fernanda Torres of San Juan, Puerto Rico

104. Ayako Uehara of Naha, Japan

105. Lindsey Weaver of Celina, Texas

106. Karrie Webb of Ayr, Australia

107. Jing Yan of Shanghai, China

108. Angel Yin of Arcadia, Calif.

Contact Mari Faiello at mfaiello@tampabay.com. Follow @faiello_mari.