Golf

Brittany Lincicome’s unforgettable presence trumps forgettable PGA debut

Brittany Lincicome ended her first nine holes of the tournament 3-over-par during the first day of competition at the PGA Tour Barbasol Championship at Keene Trace Golf Club outside Nicholasville on Thursday. She finished with a 6-over-78.
Brittany Lincicome ended her first nine holes of the tournament 3-over-par during the first day of competition at the PGA Tour Barbasol Championship at Keene Trace Golf Club outside Nicholasville on Thursday. She finished with a 6-over-78. swalker@herald-leader.com

Brittany Lincicome’s chance of becoming the first woman in more than 70 years to make the cut in a PGA Tour event looked dire after she finished at 6-over-78 in the first round of the Barbasol Championship on Thursday.

You couldn’t tell from her post-round demeanor, which could have been mistaken for that of a player who just dominated the Champions Course at Keene Trace Golf Club.

“Overall, I did what I wanted to do, with having fun. I think I nailed that part pretty well,” Lincicome said.

Lincicome, an eight-time winner on the LPGA Tour (including major championships in 2009 and 2015), was at even-par through her first three holes before bogeying No. 13, a par-4. She bogeyed 16, then had a double-bogey on 18 before making the turn. She birdied No. 3 and was even on every other hole among the front nine except No. 7, a par-3 that she triple-bogeyed.

A birdie opportunity on hole No. 17 failed to generate momentum for Lincicome, the sixth woman to ever compete in a PGA Tour tournament.

“Putting let me down today, which is weird because last week I putted great,” said Lincicome, who last week lost a playoff in the LPGA’s Marathon Classic. “ ... The greens were a little bit slower than we anticipated, so tomorrow I’m gonna be whacking it a lot harder.”

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Hundreds of people followed Brittany Lincicome during the first day of competition at the PGA Tour Barbasol Championship at Keene Trace Golf Club outside Nicholasville on Thursday. Silas Walker swalker@herald-leader.com

The gallery was in Lincicome’s corner the entire morning and early afternoon. Hundreds followed her group, which included Tour rookies Sam Ryder and Conrad Schindler. Barring bad weather, hundreds more will do so Friday.

Ryder, who tied for second in last week’s John Deere Classic and finished 4-under on Thursday, was impressed by Lincicome’s play.

“It’s a different game, obviously, but watching her hit some of the shots she hit, spinning some of those wedges back, how solidly she hits a lot of her irons, (how) she hits her driver,” Ryder said. “She’s a very solid player. I think she had a little bit of nerves early. ... She had a couple big numbers but if she rolled a couple putts in she could have been right around par or a couple under.”

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Ray Woods, 57, has been to multiple PGA events but is also fan of the LPGA. He followed Lincicome throughout the day. Her receiving a sponsor’s exemption was viewed by some as a marketing gimmick for the tournament, which is void of big stars thanks to the British Open, but Woods didn’t see it that way.

“It gives the women a chance on tour to play with the guys and see how their game compares to what the guys’ game is,” Woods said. “I think it’s good for golf.”

Woods was part of the day’s biggest fan contingent, but he said its size paled in comparison to ones he’s been part of at other events.

“When you’re following Tiger Woods around, you’re usually about 15 or 20 deep,” Woods said. “This is pretty good because you get to view all the players up close.”

Carol Niemi, a 74-year-old woman who drove down from Michigan, received tickets during Christmas from her son, who lives in Kentucky. She didn’t know about Lincicome’s participation ahead of time but was excited to follow her during the event.

Photos from the first day of the PGA Tour Barbasol Championship at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville.

“She’s not the first (woman) who’s played in a PGA tournament but everyone out here is talking about it and they love it,” Niemi said.

Niemi was among a group of fans asking for Lincicome’s autograph when her round finished. As forgettable as her score was, Lincicome’s presence was anything but for the Barbasol crowd.

She’s ready to keep swinging — and signing — for as long as she’s afforded the chance this weekend.

“I’ll probably still be nervous even though I’m obviously nowhere near making the cut, but still, just being inside the ropes with the guys, it’s such a cool feeling, a different feeling,” Lincicome said.

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Brittany Lincicome posed for a picture with Channing Hagan, 11, of Lexington, after her round during the PGA Tour Barbasol Championship at Keene Trace Golf Club Thursday. Alex Slitz aslitz@herald-leader.com

Friday

What: Second round of PGA Tour Barbasol Championship

Where: Champions course at Keene Trace Golf Club in NIcholasville

Gates open: 7 a.m.

First tee time: 7 a.m.

Tickets: Daily passes $30-40; Four-day pass $100 (Visit BarbasolChampionshipKy.com for additional details)

Parking: $10 per day (All parking is at Keeneland, with shuttles running continuously to the golf course)

Friday’s TV: 5-8 p.m. (Golf Channel)

Purse: $3.5 million ($630,000 to winner)

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