BELLEAIR — It has been only a few months since Brittany Lincicome last played in a tournament, as she went on maternity leave in late June for the birth of her second daughter, Sophia.
But it feels like “years when you take that much time off,” the Seminole native said.
During a media event Tuesday for the LPGA Pelican Women’s Championship, which tees off Nov. 10 at Pelican Golf Club, Lincicome said the mental side of golf is one of the most difficult hurdles she will have to overcome. She gradually has ramped up her preparation for the event but said it still snuck up on her.
Lincicome knows that she can hit the ball the same. She knows her abilities have allowed her to win on the tour before, and she reminded herself that it hasn’t changed even with the time off.
“Obviously, a little bit rusty, but I’m hoping it’s like riding a bike and it’s just going to come right back to me,” she said.
There’s added excitement for Lincicome, because she will be able to play in front of her two daughters for the first time. Emery, her oldest at 3 years old, loves golf, she said. When Lincicome puts on her golf clothes, Emery knows what it means and says, “Mommy go play golf.”
Picking out those familiar faces in the crowd always helps her snap out of rough stretches during a tournament, Lincicome said.
“I can look over to her, and that should just create lots of birdies for me because she’s so happy all the time and she loves watching mommy play golf …” Lincicome said. “Hopefully, I can show off a little bit for her.”
Thompson returns on a high note
Lexi Thompson hadn’t won a tournament in three years until her victory at an Aramco Team Series event Oct. 15 at Trump Golf Links Ferry Point in New York.
One of her close calls during that stretch: a runner-up finish at the 2021 Pelican Women’s Championship, where she lost in a four-person playoff to Nelly Korda. There’s “definitely a little added motivation” heading into the Belleair tournament because of how last year ended, Thompson said.
“Didn’t have the outcome that I wanted, but I learned a lot from it,” she said. “I always say you’re always learning, you’re never failing.”
During this two-and-a-half-week stretch following the Aramco Team Series victory, Thompson has continued to make sure that everything remains “in groove,” she said. She will putt for hours, while working on striking the ball more consistently and trying to avoid drastic misses.
She also has worked on her swing with instructor Martin Hall while at home. And right now, in the aftermath of an elusive win and on the cusp of a chance at redemption, Thompson feels her swing is in a good spot.
“Golf is so mental,” she said, “so it’s all about just having the confidence over the shots — knowing if you do your routine, stick to your game plan, that it’ll all work.”
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Event to become ‘Sorenstam’s baby’
Last month, the LPGA Tour and Pelican Women’s Championship announced that Annika Sorenstam will have her name in the event’s title for 2023, turning it into “The Annika driven by Gainbridge at Pelican.”
Marci Doyle, executive director for the event, previously worked as chief operating officer and tournament director of the Arnold Palmer Invitational. She said Tuesday that this event will become Sorenstam’s “baby.”
They wanted to find the “female version of Arnold Palmer,” Pelican Golf Club owner Dan Doyle Jr. said. He added that Sorenstam’s addition “just raises the tournament’s caliber just another notch.”
“I don’t see (Sorenstam) being the type of person who will just throw her name on there and not make sure that she’s very involved and things are done the right way,” said Gary Koch, an NBC Sports golf analyst who has worked with Sorenstam covering U.S. Women’s Open Championships.
LPGA Pelican Women’s Championship
When: Nov. 10-13
Where: Pelican Golf Club, Belleair
Field size: 120 competitors, including seven of the world’s top 10 players
Purse: $2 million